Vol. 19 Issue 2, Summer 2014
By Will McCarry
If you’re worried about mosquitoes and other insects ruining your backyard fun this summer, there are ways to protect yourself and your family. It may seem easy to turn to pest management companies that claim to be able to stop mosquitoes (many also state they can control ticks and stink bugs) by use of outdoor residential treatments and misting systems. However, it is very important to carefully research what is being sprayed – its effectiveness as well as its risks – before exposing children, pets and the surrounding environment to potentially harmful chemicals that kill indiscriminately.
Most misting systems utilize the pesticides Pyrethrins and Permethrin. Unfortunately pesticides such as these aren’t selective about which insects they target. These chemicals are harmful to all insects, including beneficial ones such as honeybees and butterflies. In addition, if you live near a body of water or fish pond, Permethrin is particularly highly toxic to fish as well as aquatic invertebrates. Fish and aquatic insects are a vital link in the food chain and many have a voracious appetite for mosquito larvae.
The EPA states on its website that it does not expect risks to humans when these chemicals are used properly. However, it also cautions that excessive use may pose a serious threat to the safety of one’s family and pets and that “no pesticide should be regarded as 100 percent risk free.”
Apart from environmental concerns, pest management companies recommend technicians visit your home every 21 days, which is not only unnecessary, but it exposes humans and pets, as well as wildlife, to even higher amounts of poisons. Many pesticides build up in sediment, reaching highly toxic levels with repeated sprayings. Sprayed chemicals may also drift into areas not being actively treated and contaminate surrounding areas.
Fortunately, there are many effective and environmentally friendly alternative ways to keep mosquitoes at bay during the summer months:
- Make sure all flower pots, pool covers, birdbaths, roof gutters, downspouts and pet water bowls are emptied of standing water regularly.
- Keep swimming pool water circulating and properly treated.
- Make sure all screen doors and windows are properly sealed.
We’ll be providing more information on this important topic in the future. In the meantime, please think about all the consequences of pest management treatments. While we are individuals making personal decisions, our actions in backyards affect the well-being of others, as well as wildlife found in a healthy environment.