The situation in Hungary:
Biological larvicides effective against the larvae of biting mosquitoes have been used in Hungary for over 20 years, however without much success. Consequently, since the start of organised mosquito control in Hungary (1976) the predominant control practices have involved the spraying of general chemical pesticides from aircraft. (Figure 1)
Figure 1. The ratio of mosquito control by biological and chemical means between 1988 and 2016
The failed efforts to use biological pesticides effectively, which have hindered the wide-spread use of this method in Hungary, can often be associated with unprofessional application. The major mistakes include that in the absence of professionals with the necessary biological knowledge and willingness to act water bodies that can be easily sprayed from aircraft have been treated with liquid biological pesticides, without the mapping of breeding grounds. Such water bodies include mine lakes that do not contain large amounts of biting mosquito larvae, or floodplains that are usually covered by foliage during the mosquito season. Granular pesticides have only recently become available in Hungary, and have not been applied by aircraft, since it requires special skills from the implementers.
We started our work in Szeged (area: 28,080 ha) in 2011 by mapping breeding grounds. Since 2012 our company has been responsible for the entire professional management of mosquito control. In terms of mosquito breeding water sources, the Szeged region is one of the worst in Hungary: it includes the floodplains of two rivers (Tisza and Maros), plus it is the lowest-lying area of the country, wherefore extensive areas are susceptible to groundwater flooding in case of heavy precipitation. Consequently, before 2011 Csongrád county, including Szeged, always ranked high in terms of the size of the area subjected to chemical mosquito control according to the national statistics.
Biological mosquito control
Since 2011 we have been continuously mapping breeding sites corresponding to the ecological parameters. We have extended our activity to floodplains too, where competent and effective mapping is done only by our company in Hungary. We apply biological treatment only on well-defined areas that serve as a habitat for the larvae of biting mosquitoes. Due to precise implementation, the size of the areas treated with ground-based biological methods has drastically decreased since we assumed the management tasks in 2012 (Figure 2). Because Szeged has no breeding sites that could be effectively treated with liquid-state biological pesticides from aircraft, we do not apply aerial mosquito spraying.
Figure 2. Size of areas subjected to ground and aerial mosquito control by biological means between 2008 and 2016
Chemical mosquito control
During the peak activity of harmful mosquito species the extent of mosquito infestation is measured on a weekly basis by means of human trapping at 21 measuring sites around the city. Due to the rise in mapped breeding water sources and the effective biological treatment thereof, biting mosquitoes are destroyed at the larval stage, i.e. they do not reach adulthood. This has significantly reduced the damage caused by flying adults, and consequently the area subjected to aerial and ground mosquito control by chemical means in Szeged since 2011. As a straightforward concomitant, mosquito control costs have also dropped considerably. No other company in Hungary can boast similar results.
Figure 3. Size of areas subjected to ground and aerial mosquito control by chemical means between 2008 and 2016
- The effectiveness of environmentally responsible mosquito control can be further improved in a system designed for specific regions. To this end, we aim to establish cooperation with neighbouring settlements along the lower section of the river Tisza. Unfortunately, these settlements do not show much interest in cooperation yet, since as long as the state implements chemical mosquito control programmes free of charge, the local governments are not willing to invest in the mapping of breeding sites.
- The involvement of the population is indispensable in the biological treatment of breeding water sources on private property. A flyer has been produced to raise awareness and change the attitude of the population. In addition, the local government owned company responsible for the coordination of mosquito control supplied the population with Culinex tablets free of charge. Unfortunately, the use of these tablets is currently not permitted in Hungary, but we aim to make this biological agent available for use by the general public again.