Shane Kelly, operations supervisor vector and pest management, with mosquitoes caught in light traps for testing.
Shane Kelly, operations supervisor vector and pest management, with mosquitoes caught in light traps for testing. Alistair Brightman

Mossie man is coming

THE FEMALE vampire critter not even the size of half your thumbnail top can kill you and right now the Fraser Coast mossie man is gearing up to hunt it down.

Shane Kelly is the council’s operations manager for vector and pest management and at the end of this month he’s teaming up with Qld Health to do a house-to-house search for dengue fever-carrying mosquitoes.

“The closest we know it’s breeding is in Rockhampton but we regularly carry out checks on the Fraser Coast to make sure it hasn’t decided to travel south.”

Queensland Health entomologist Professor Scott Ritchie said the Asian tiger mosquito, aedes albopictus, could survive in more temperate climates than the other dengue-spreading mosquito, aedes aegytpi, which is endemic to northern parts of Australia.

“This mosquito has a reputation for invasion of new areas.”

Mosquitoes in the Hervey Bay area are capable of spreading Ross River virus.

Shane Kelly has spent 10 of his 13 years with the council killing, catching and studying mossies.

“They’re drought-tolerant, reach adulthood within five to six days once the egg has hatched and then live for a couple of weeks, in which time the females bite humans to get the blood protein they need to lay their hundreds of eggs.”

Mr Kelly says the Coast contains about 30 species of mossies and our main enemies are the salt marsh ochlerotatus vigilax and container breeders, the ochlerotatus notoscriptus.

“We conduct larvae and adult sightings in the salt marshes and once the tide reaches at least 3.93m we know it’s time to move fast. We go out on foot, on our quad bikes, on our boat and with a chopper and we spray a sand-based product that kills millions of them.”

The council’s mossie team of five also works diligently on home breeders, the freshwater varieties that just love to breed in buckets of water, the tops of tarped utes, drains, swamps, lagoons, bird baths and old tyres.

Mr Kelly says the team uses ovi traps in buckets to monitor airports, truck stops and boat harbours.

“We use spreaders and spray tanks for ground control.”



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