SC Iss. 2, 2018 (w)

Palmetto Communities

The official publication of the South Carolina Chapter of CAI

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Issue 2, 2018

Mosquitoes? Don’t Spray — Get Some Dragonflies! By AssociationHelpNow™ Staff writer

From the President Clear Communication Makes a Difference with Difficult People S queaky wheels, the complainers, the busybodies — no matter how you think of them, difficult residents are part

Donald Hucks, PCAM

of community life. There’s no magic wand or charm to turn your local beast into a beauty. But as board members, com- mittee members and community managers, you have access to the next best thing: good communication. Communication from the board, committees and management goes a long way toward making dissatisfied residents happy. How? Read on for how you can use communication tips, tools and technology to create a cohesive community and manage difficult residents when needed. An Ounce of Prevention As an Executive Director in my fifteenth year in community management I managed many different types of communities. The biggest problem I see is a lack of information on the part of the homeowners. We have a lot of homeowners who move here or buy a second home after living somewhere that HOAs are not common. They don’t know how an HOAworks or why they can’t paint their house pink or have a purple front door. Explaining things to them up front can avoid a lot of problems. In terms of keeping homeowners informed, communica- tion is critical. I send e-blasts on a regular basis, letting people know what’s going on and explaining or reinforcing policies. For example, our communities open their pools on April 1st. So before that, we send out a communication that details the pool hours and all the rules. If a pool gate isn’t working, we let people know immediately via a mass communication. Not only does that cut down on the rumor mill about what the

While in larva form, dragonflies are still active predators.

A long with the warm weather comes some unwanted guests, or should we say pests? Mosquitoes present not just an annoying aspect of spring and summer, but pose po- tential health risks as well. As residents and manag- ers, how can our communi- ties strike a balance between harmful pests and poten- tially harmful control solu- tions? Mick Ribault, founder and president of Dragonfly Pond Works, an environmen- tal service company in Apex North Carolina specializing in lake and pond manage- ment, working on lakes, re- tention ponds, wetlands, and other types of storm water, has found a safe and effective solution for managing pesky mosquitoes. ‘Biological con- trol,’ as Ribault has termed it, uses dragonfly larvae to control mosquitoes from their earliest breeding phases, as a single dragonfly can eat sev- eral dozen to several hundred mosquitoes every day. “Most people don’t know that dragonflies are preda- tors with an unbelievable drive for catching their prey,” said Ribault. “They fly

three-and-a-half times faster, using their feet to grab the insects they are hunting.” A Harvard University study (“Dragonflies: The Flying Aces of the Insect World,” Science Nation, October 3, 2011) found that dragonflies were so efficient in their hunt- ing that they caught 90 to 95 percent of the prey released into a test enclosure. According to Ribault, re- cently, their flying patterns and ability to hover mid-air have been studied for drone designs. It is surprising to note, however that dragon- flies are only alive in their fly- ing state for a short amount of time. In reality, most of their lives are actually spent in wa- ter in a larva phase. This peri- od can range from six months to about two years. While in larva form, drag- onflies are still active preda- tors. This is very effective be- cause mosquitoes also breed in water, meaning that drag- onfly larva can actually prey on mosquito larva. “When we first began look- ing into this control method, we researched a program out of Scarborough, Maine,” said Ribault about how they

CONTINUES ON PAGE 7. The proper habitat in- cludes beneficial plants along the shoreline. “There are three or four native plants which can be very useful — pickerel weed, aquatic irises, and rushes,” Ribault said, “it’s important that they are present at the water’s edge for two reasons. First, they shelter dragonflies from their predators, and second, they need foliage to climb onto when they hatch.” Sterile ponds, such as a maintained golf course, are not a success- ful environment for breeding larvae. Initially, the team may also developed this technique. “They had been doing it for years — essentially provid- ing thousands of dragonfly larvae to anyone in the com- munity with standing water and it lead to a significant reduction in the mosquito population,” he said. What is the process of bio- logical control? The process begins in a consultative fash- ion, where Ribault and his team make sure their client’s ponds have the necessary habitat to enable the drag- onfly larvae population to flourish.

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