Mosquitoes lay their eggs near standing water, and many cemeteries have a lot of standing water. Invasive Aedes are aggressive day biting mosquitoes which lay their eggs on the sides of containers and require less than a bottle cap full of water to complete their lifecycle. The two most concerning species, Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, can transmit various viruses including Zika, dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. These two species have been found in many parts of California, with Aedes aegypti being reported in nearby San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Sacramento counties. Once invasive Aedes establish in an area, they are difficult to control, and require labor intensive work to reduce their population.
ACMAD prioritizes preventative action, a key part of a robust Integrated Mosquito Management program, to ensure invasive Aedes mosquitoes do not establish in Alameda County.
Cemeteries are a likely primary location for invasive Aedes. Other mosquito abatement organizations have detected invasive Aedes in cemeteries before any other area, as the grounds offer an environment uniquely suited for invasive mosquitoes owing to the large number of vases and a consistent supply of irrigated water. In addition, cemeteries offer shade for adult mosquitoes to rest, along with ample supplies of birds and humans for blood meals. Historically, cemeteries have been havens for mosquitoes throughout California, including the various species that can carry West Nile virus, which entered Alameda County in 2004 and quickly established in the native mosquito population. Learning from the history of West Nile virus and with an eye to the future, the district chooses to take aggressive preventative action before a new mosquito species with greater disease potential establishes itself in Alameda County.
Cemeteries can choose which mitigation tactics will work best for their location and community. In 2021 ACMAD provided a list of possible solutions to each cemetery in Alameda County. Cemeteries can replace heavy vases with easy to remove plastic containers if they are drained weekly. If cemetery staff wish to remove standing water completely, they can fill containers with sand, cement, or water storing crystals. ACMAD recognizes the importance of cemetery leadership to decide which mitigation actions to take, as they understand which practices will be sustainable for their staff and are culturally appropriate to their own communities. We appreciate the cemeteries for working with us to prevent invasive Aedes infestation in Alameda County.