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Pest management and public health combat disease-carrying insect infestations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Corinna Sanabia

Some of the most integral, but often unrecognized, members of Holloman are those who work behind the scenes to keep pests and unwanted critters from affecting the mission here.

The 49th Civil Engineer Squadron’s pest management shop has teamed up with the 49th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s public health department to prepare for the influx of biting flies and mosquitoes Tularosa Basin’s rainy season brings.

“Along with being a nuisance, these biting flies and mosquitoes can carry and transmit a number of life-threatening diseases that can cause neurological illnesses, such as encephalitis or meningitis,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jamiaya Hartnest, 49th CES entomology noncommissioned officer in charge. “We work tirelessly with public health around the clock to mitigate the threat to personnel.”

Public Health and Pest Management came together to eliminate this pressing threat through a number of control methods.

“We use minnows as a biological control in ditches and other standing water around base to feed on mosquito larvae. We also use larvicide, a type of insecticide used to control mosquitoes,” said Hartnest. “They work by killing mosquito larvae before they can grow into adults. Lastly, we have begun using new fogging technology, which is an ultra-low volume treatment, at night to kill off mosquitoes.”

These practices help keep Team Holloman and the Fightin’ 49ers healthy and able to focus on building combat aircrew and leading and developing Airmen instead of worrying about contracting and then dealing with infectious illnesses spread by these pests. Furthermore, this new technology will be used to assist U.S. military members in overseas locations that can be infested with disease-carrying insects.

“The methods used by both public health and pest management are essential for preventing vector-borne disease, one of the leading causes of casualties in past conflicts,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Timothy Davis, 49th AMDS medical entomologist. “This type of combined effort is essential in the future fight as we seek to operate in a contested environment and will rely on area-wide management techniques.”

Pest management and public health have worked together to create new and innovative ways to keep propelling the mission forward, not only here at Holloman, but also for the larger Air Force mission.