Since 1897, when a mosquito was first found to be carrying malaria, the relationship between insects and human disease has been well-established.
Yet we don’t normally think of bug-fighters as healthcare warriors.
So, as my area of the country (the Northeast) prepares for a fight against expected mosquito and tick infestations, let’s salute those bug-fighters, whether they come in the form of consumer insecticides or human exterminators.
On the CPG front, Procter & Gamble’s natural insecticide Zevo, which last year launched its first national ads for its “people-friendly” Flying Insect Trap and Multi Insect Killing Spray, has just expanded with a line of On-Body Mosquito + Tick Repellents
Available in three forms -- aerosol, pump spray and lotion -- all “have been formulated to repel ticks that may carry Lyme disease in addition to mosquitoes that may carry Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue fever and West Nile,” P&G says.
That’s speaking my language, since the 90-year-old National Pest Management Association (NPMA), representing more than 5,500 exterminators across the country, has just published a mainstay in its marketing arsenal: the biannual Bug Barometer. And it’s not a pretty picture.
Based on weather patterns, long-term forecasts and pest biology, the Association says that tick, mosquito and termite populations are expected to thrive in the Northeast this spring and summer. “These pests are a serious concern as they can transmit dangerous diseases and cause structural damage to your home,” Jim Fredericks, NPMA’s senior vice president of public affairs, said in a statement.
To help get the word out about the health hazards of pests, NPMA also offers several :30 and :60 PSAs, which direct viewers to “get the facts” at its website, PestWorld.org. The group has even produced several video series, including most recently the six-part animated “Invasive Species,” examining bugs like the Asian longhornedtick.
NPMA has also launched a website completely devoted to ticks, as well as a “Tick Talk” video series.
Living in Brooklyn, I was already on guard, due to NPMA’s February release of its biannual Vector Sectors list of the top 10 U.S. cities with the greatest risk of increased infestation by “vector” critters -- those bugs that carry diseases.
New York City made the list, thanks to a milder than usual winter resulting in more ticks “being active on warm days in the late winter and early spring.”
At around the same time last month, I also received a press release with the following ominous headline: “Climate change likely to turn New York into a breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.”
This news came from 10-year-old BlueDot, which describes itself as “a leading artificial and human intelligence organization for detecting, assessing, and responding to global infectious disease threats.”
BlueDot, which says it “correctly identified many of the first international cities in which [COVID] would first emerge,” expects Aedes genus mosquitos to move north over the next 10 years as global warming increases, potentially exposing 40 million people in New York, Beijing, London and Toronto alone to such diseases as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya.
“The results underline the need for education on mosquito-borne diseases,” BlueDot says, “and procurement of medical and safety countermeasures such as insect repellent, removal of standing water, appropriate clothing or netting, and vaccinations (where applicable).”
I’d add exterminators to that list, but mostly -- due to the brand’s promised non-sticky and odorless properties -- I expect to protect my health by loading up on Zevo.