Why Mosquito Control Matters at Construction Jobsites

Mosquitoes can be a distraction to workers as well as a health risk due to diseases mosquitoes can carry

Your first action to limit mosquito outbreaks on a jobsite is to make the immediate environment unsuitable for mosquitoes.
Your first action to limit mosquito outbreaks on a jobsite is to make the immediate environment unsuitable for mosquitoes.

There are plenty of things to do on a construction site, and mosquito control may seem to be pretty low on the priority list. However, in places where mosquitoes are a real nuisance, eliminating them from the jobsite can reap plenty of benefits.

In the construction industry, workers are particularly vulnerable to mosquitoes – they work long dawn-to-dusk hours outdoors and rarely take precautions to repel or remove these deadly insects.

The problem stems from the fact that mosquitoes are deadly as well as annoying. One of the world’s most celebrated construction projects, the Panama Canal, took more than 10 years to complete and took thousands of lives, a large percentage of which fell victim to two mosquito-borne diseases, malaria and yellow fever.

More than a century later, mosquito-borne illnesses are still making headlines. In 2016, the Zika virus was found in parts of Florida and Texas and triggered a panic among residents there. Every year, West Nile virus claims dozens of lives in the U.S.

Why mosquito control is important on a construction site

It may not seem that a small insect can create problems on a construction site, but mosquitoes should definitely be a concern for all site managers, particularly for those near wetlands or where high temperatures and high humidity are common.

Most notably, battling mosquitoes all day can be a huge distraction to workers. Maintaining focus while using heavy equipment or performing sensitive operations is absolutely vital. Further, a constant struggle with mosquitoes can lead to frustrated workers, which may make them miserable and combative.

As mentioned above, mosquitoes are also known to transmit a number of diseases, which can lead to workers calling off sick. The diseases mosquitoes carry aren’t a joke either, they can be incapacitating at best and deadly at worst.

Lastly, maintaining proper mosquito control is just good public relations. When inspectors, clients, would-be tenants or subcontractors are on site, keeping them happy and comfortable can save money in the long run.

Environmental mosquito control methods

Your first action to limit mosquito outbreaks on a jobsite is to make the immediate environment unsuitable for mosquitoes. These biting insects lay their eggs in stagnant water, which is often in abundance in and around construction sites. Primary actions should be to:

  • Dump containers – remove or empty containers that hold standing water, this includes making sure truck beds, barrels and buckets aren’t holding water.
  • Cover wet areas – fill in tire ruts, puddles, trenches and other low spots where water collects.
  • Check covers – some mosquito species can develop in a tiny amount of water. That means that water-catching lids on some containers can produce massive amounts of mosquitoes. Also be sure to clear creases and water traps from tarps and sheet plastic covers.
  • Limit wetdowns – wetdowns are often needed to limit dust on a job. However, overdoing dust control can lead to mosquito and bug problems, so try to reach a happy medium.
  • Making debris patrols – the simple act of picking up garbage and debris on the site is also a big help. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in anything that holds water for a few days, including candy wrappers and bottle caps.
  • Changing work hours – it may be a bit extreme but if its effecting productivity adjust worker hours to avoid the peak times when mosquitoes are active – usually the hour around sunrise and sunset.

Active mosquito control methods

After taking steps to limit the mosquitoes by adjusting the environment, you can take even more steps to stop these biting insects, most of which are relatively inexpensive.

  • Mosquito repellent for workers – a simple solution to bringing biting insect relief to your workers is to proactively provide mosquito repellent for them. Simply buy a case of repellent and allow the workers that want to use it to do so.
  • C02 mosquito traps – using attractants, these mosquito traps lure mosquitoes away from people. Once the mosquitoes fly by the trap to investigate they’re sucked inside and die. The best of these traps can draw mosquitoes from over one square acre!
  • Recommended clothing – mandating that your workers wear specific mosquito-fighting clothing may seem a bit overboard, but in some cases it may be needed. In other cases, it may be good to just suggest this basic outfit: Light colors, long sleeves, full-length pants and, if possible, fabric infused with permethrin.
  • High-capacity fans – mosquitoes are not the best fliers – a breeze can make it impossible to land and bite their victims. Placing a high-capacity fan near a work crew can send these bugs scattering.
  • Environmental spraying – in extreme situations, hire a pest control company to spray the site with a pesticide. You will want site owner and municipal approval before doing this.
  • Mosquito-killing tablets obtain mosquito-killing tablets that can be dropped in standing water. As they dissolve, these tablets release an agent that destroys larvae.
  • Air conditioning – If possible, complete the seals needed to run air conditioning on indoor jobs. Mosquitoes can’t tolerate a low-humidity, low-temperature environment.

How a construction site benefits from mosquito control

Once you have a mosquito control plan in place, you’ll begin to see side benefits from your efforts. They may not be obvious at first, but each change you make is an incremental step forward to having happier workers, impressing your clients and increasing site safety.

  • Help for hiring – when recruiting and hiring, be sure to mention your efforts. This sort of attention to employee concerns could be just enough to help a potential worker choose you over a competitor.
  • Help for bidding – when writing up bids for a project, include a description of your mosquito abatement program in the offer. If your plan is environmentally sound, it may elevate the offer in the eyes of your client.
  • Help for employee relations – by pointing out your efforts to make employees comfortable and keep them healthy, you’re showing your workers you have an employee-centric focus, and that will ultimately help employee retention. Aside from that, you’ll potentially see healthier employees who take less sick time. You’ll also help to promote a distraction-free jobsite, a safety issue for any company.

John Simcoe has been writing in pest control for more than two years.