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Hundreds of mosquito larvae in a small roadside storm water basin.

Managing Mosquitoes in Stormwater Treatment Devices

Section 3: Type and Location of Treatment BMPs

Published 2004

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Section 3: Type and Location of Treatment BMPs

When selecting and installing stormwater treatment devices, agencies consider factors such as the projected runoff for a given area, the available or allocated space, cost, and local pollutants of concern. Structural designs can range from simple to elaborate and appear to be limited only by funding and the imagination of engineers. The most common processes used for pollution management in treatment BMPs that may be used singly or in combination include trash capture, settling and sedimentation, media filtration, and infiltration. Typical urban and suburban treatment devices include vegetated channels (swales), dry detention basins, wet retention ponds or constructed wetlands, media filtration devices, and belowground sumps, vaults, and basins. Of concern to public health officials is that an alarming number of these devices hold nutrient-rich stagnant water that provides breeding places for mosquitoes.

Location can greatly affect whether a treatment BMP becomes a significant source of mosquitoes. For example, identical structures in different locations may vary widely in potential mosquito production due to the number of mosquitoes present in the area, the species composition, and the duration of breeding activity. Elements that may influence the mosquito breeding potential in any given location may include a variety of environmental, construction, and local factors operating singly or in combination (table 1).

Because of their propensity to breed mosquitoes all treatment BMPs, regardless of their design, should be monitored periodically by vector control professionals with knowledge of the biology and ecology of local mosquito species. A more proactive approach would be to include vector control professionals in preconstruction planning. This type of collaborative effort could help prevent costly future retrofits or replacements necessary to meet mosquito management goals.

Table 1. Factors that may influence mosquito production potential in treatment BMPs.
  • Elevation
  • Installation above or below ground
  • Local climate
  • Local fauna (i.e., potential predators)
  • Nonstormwater runoff quantity, quality, and event frequency (e.g., residential and commercial)
  • Proximity to existing mosquito sources
  • Stormwater runoff quantity, quality, and event frequency
  • Surrounding host animals (wild and domestic) potentially available for female mosquitoes to feed upon
  • Surrounding land use, both present and future
  • Surrounding structural refuges for adult mosquitoes (e.g., trees, shrubs, storm sewers)
  • Surrounding vegetation, both native and exotic

Note: This list is incomplete. Other local factors may also be conducive to mosquito production.
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[UC Peer Reviewed]

Managing Mosquitoes in Stormwater Treatment Devices, UC ANR Publication 8125
Marco E. Metzger, Vector-Borne Disease Section, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento

Copyright © 2004 The Regents of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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