March 1, 2022
We get a lot of questions and queries about garden mosquito sprays. We interviewed two experts to learn more about the risks.
Every year more gardens are sprayed against mosquitoes. Did you know you might be poisoning your garden, but mosquito populations aren't going down?
Before you decide to spray your yard, get the facts. Spraying can harm you, your children, your pets and your neighbors. The chemicals can also harm birds and insects that help mosquitoes eat and pollinate your garden.
To learn more about the problems with mosquito spraying, we interviewed Deborah Landau, an entomologist and conservation scientist at The Nature Conservancy, and Mary Travaglini, a certified organic land care practitioner and organic landscaping manager for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. , DM. These experts agree: Mosquito treatments, including the so-called "all-natural" variety, can harm you and your environment, even if they don't actually reduce mosquito populations.
How effective are sprays against mosquitoes?
MONTE: Research published and peer-reviewed by Professor David Pimentel shows that, on average, only 0.1% of pesticides reached the target pests. [Pimentel, Cornell University 1995]. When Pimentel looked specifically at flying insects in the study, such as mosquitoes, the average was less than 0.0001%, or just one in a million. This is because the droplet size of a pesticide must be small and it must float in the air. The droplet size of a mosquito spray should be so small that the chemicals should float in the air but also easily drift away from the target area, killing other insects or mixing with the air we breathe.
DL: Sprayers can only kill mosquitoes that are in your yard at the time you spray. Mosquitoes typically fly 1 to 3 miles, so they can quickly repopulate your yard. A commercial mosquito treatment is more likely to kill butterflies, bees and ladybugs in your yard at the time of application than the mosquitoes you are trying to get rid of. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, but mosquito spray companies often come during the day when most pollinators are active. If treatments target standing water, beneficial mosquito-eating insects such as dragonfly larvae will also be killed. If the spray is focused on damp areas, such as piles of wet leaves, they are likely to kill many more fireflies than mosquitoes. Unfortunately, birds often pick up insects killed by insecticides and eat them or feed them to their young.
What do I get for my $300 worth of pesticide spray?
MONTE: If we convert 0.0001% effectiveness into dollars and cents, one millionth of $300 worth of spray is 0.0003, which is not even a third of a cent. In fact, we would have to spend $10,000 before we get a dime! Spend your time and money cleaning out gutters, removing standing water, and teaming up with neighbors to do this throughout your neighborhood.
DL: Over time, mosquitoes become resistant to pyrethroids (the active ingredients in most mosquito treatments) through genetic mutations in mosquito populations. Mutations in this single gene are enough to make mosquitoes in an area resistant to pesticides very quickly. Companies that spray regularly will make their mosquito population resistant even faster. So basically, you're left with a backyard and a neighborhood full of super skeeters.
Is there anything I can do to control mosquitoes in my yard other than spraying?
DL: If you want more for your money, buy BTI Mosquito Dampers; they're cheap, effective, and easy to use (just place them in areas that retain water). And these are the bacteria thatonlykill mosquito larvae. You should always remove standing water from your yard, including under flower pots, inside wheelbarrows, and on just about anything plastic. Don't forget to clean your gutters even in summer (you'll be rewarded with a dry basement and fewer mosquitoes)!
MONTE: There's a reason Disneyland, in a mosquito-heavy part of Florida, doesn't use pesticides to control mosquitoes. They take an approach that neighborhoods, HOAs, and businesses can use here: They make sure the water doesn't sit still long enough for a mosquito to lay its egg and develop into an adult, which takes about 7 days. BTI bathrooms are excellent solutions; in fact, one of the best ways to treat mosquitoes is to give them a chance to breed in a bucket filled with straw and water and a BTI bath. Females are attracted by the smell of wet straw and water and lay their eggs there, but BTI immersion kills the larvae. It's like a trap and will help the entire neighborhood reduce mosquito populations!
Still hearing about West Nile virus? Is this a concern?
MONTE: The CDC reported 6 cases of West Nile in Maryland in 2019 and no deaths. In 2018, there were 245 cases of all types of mosquito-borne illnesses in Maryland, although it cannot be attributed whether they were carried by visitors' bodies or transmitted by mosquitoes in the state. I researched the estimated cancer diagnoses for the first half of 2020 and we already have almost 35,000 cases of cancer. I'll choose long sleeves and mop up standing water instead of spraying chemicals which won't really be effective but are a risk to my health.
DL: Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and using non-toxic repellents that use lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE). Data shows that OLE-based repellents are as effective as synthetic DEET formulations. DEET can be toxic at high levels and can damage synthetic clothing. A fan on your deck can be surprisingly effective: Mosquitoes fly feebly, and the breeze from a fan not only cools you down, but also keeps them away from the area.
What about the "all natural" alternatives one company told me about?
MONTE: Companies may describe the chemicals used as derived from chrysanthemum flowers, but not plant extracts. Commercial pyrethroids are produced synthetically to mimic the same properties as the pyrethrins in chrysanthemum flowers. Both chemicals paralyze the nervous systems of many insects, but the synthetic pyrethroids and the undisclosed chemicals they are mixed with are designed to be more lethal. Pyrethroids are neuropoisons in humans and can cause skin rashes, respiratory distress, allergic reactions, headache, nausea, seizures, and more. Additives can cause a number of other reactions. Pyrethroids are also highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life and are easily released onto neighboring properties and into streams. The chemicals can remain on surfaces for days, further killing insects that come into contact.
MONTE: I researched data from national poison control centers: Over 27,000 poison control calls were made in 2018 for pyrethrins and pyrethroids, which is over 33% of pesticide poison control calls! Imagine how many other exhibits are undiscovered.
Here's another tip: if you're looking for a way to reduce the entire population, consider these simple devices calledOviTrampas-Used by militaries around the world to effectively reduce mosquito populations. Don't forget to remove standing water from your yard all summer and remind your neighbors to do the same. Your neighbors, pets, birds, pollinators, fireflies and fur will thank you!
40 comments on "An Expert Interview: Are Garden Mosquito Sprays Safe and Effective?"
Scott Gordon data:
In Montgomery County, one of the main mosquito pests is the Asian tiger mosquito, an aggressive invasive species that bites during the day. This species usually remains in the immediate environment, flying only a few hundred meters, especially when the location provides all of its essential requirements for life: a blood supply for reproduction, sugar/nectar for energy, suitable sleeping places and available places to roost. laying eggs. I agree that there are alternatives to spraying pesticides in the backyard, such as using green alternatives like Bti, but I would not recommend oviposition traps for general use. While they are often used by scientists as a mosquito surveillance and research tool, they can become a problem if not properly maintained. Ovitraps are small soup-sized cans, painted black, partially filled with water and provided with a substrate (wooden shovel or paper lining) on which mosquitoes will lay their eggs. Ovitraps should be inspected and maintained weekly, which includes replacing the egg substrate, discarding the water, and replacing it with fresh water). If this maintenance is not done, the oviposition trap can become mosquito producing. Any eggs laid in the substrate will hatch when it rains, and the new breeding ground will attract more tiger mosquitoes. As ovitraps are often mounted in large numbers, a portion is often lost, either through animal action or simply not relocating a trap. Another disadvantage of ovitraps is that they do not capture or kill the female mosquito that lays eggs. Since container-rearing mosquitoes often practice "skipped oviposition," in which they deposit only a portion of their eggs in any given container, failing to capture the egg-laying female, the ovitrap at best collects only a small portion. her. eggs and she can move on to another location. locations A better alternative is the Gravid Aedes Trap (GAT), which traps the egg-laying female on a sheet of adhesive paper inside the trap before she can lay her eggs, thus preventing the next generation of eggs from hatching and eliminating laying. of female eggs of the population. . These traps require no energy, use no toxic chemicals, are relatively inexpensive, and require very little maintenance. Several Montgomery County neighborhoods are encouraging residents to participate in large-scale tiger mosquito control programs using GAT traps. A 2018 Nature paper by Brian Johnson et al. "Neighbors Help Neighbors Control Urban Mosquitoes" describes the results of the first 2 years of a control program using GAT in University Park, MD. The document is open access and is available athttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-34161-9
Ricardo Kramer data:
Note that ovitraps are effective for some species of aedes, as mentioned by Scott. The problem is with other genera, like the Culex, which have a longer flight range.
Disney is not a good model for residential mosquito management. They control tens of thousands of acres to apply larvicides and other methods to prevent larvae from developing: manage hatcheries (water) and you control mosquitoes. You cannot control your neighbors' yards and their kennels.
JIM ORISCAK oriscak data:(Video) 10 Organic Ways to Control Pests in the Garden
ENJOY READING THIS. I was not aware of the damage to other insects/birds/humans. It's an obvious lie how they can get the licenses to do this.???
angelic friend data:
Well, of course... they say what they need to do business with. Lots of people have bought these deductibles, up to $20,000, and what happens to that investment if people realize the spray is toxic. Just look it up on the MSDS website or the Material Safety Data Sheet. Look for the chemicals Pyretins and Pyrethroids. This is real scientific data and it really sucks that the EPA would allow inexperienced kids to spray this in neighborhoods during school holidays. There will always be someone who distorts the truth.
But those statistics don't lie. These are neuro poisons and I have personally experienced headaches, shortness of breath and more. Making me have to leave the house for hours. It's even crazier that you can be outside enjoying a barbecue and the next thing you know is a kid with a loud backpack blower showing and huge clouds of chemicals are filling the room. And that's cool. Not even a warning. And the EPA is not looking out for the best interest of the little ones. Don't believe that for a minute. I like the article and the good advice about neighbors working together to control traps. It might not be perfect, but it's better than poisoning the environment and those who live here.
Mosquito treatments can kill beneficial insects in the same way that cars can kill people. They can, but they shouldn't. That's why you need a license to operate commercially. You must know what you are doing. When bees, for example, are outside their hive within a radius of three to eight kilometers, they are working, pollinating. They do not live with ticks or adult mosquitoes resting in bushes and under decks, sheds and stone walls. It's all about aiming correctly and avoiding spraying where the bees go: flowers of any kind, be it a petunia flower or a Kousa Dogwood in June. It is absolutely possible to avoid falling into the flowers. They literally do it professionally. Used correctly, pesticides should kill the target pest. Pesticide application is not the problem. It's the irresponsible and indifferent applicators/operators who present a problem. Choose a responsible company. As with anything else.
Hi Ryan, A company that uses synthetic pyrethrin just sprayed my neighbors property. It was really windy, I was working in my garden and I felt the spray, I looked up to see all the mist wafting through the trees towards my garden. The “licensed operator” also sprayed the trees and shrubs on my property that line my neighbors yard, without even asking me. By the time I realized I was spraying my property, not theirs, it was too late. Much of it is flowering at the moment, full of insects. I am devastated that all the work I have done over the years to create a pollinator and beneficial insect friendly space has been wiped out by this idiot. Will this really kill the beneficial insects? The company claims it lasts at least 3 weeks, so will it still kill bugs for that long? I've been reading a lot about it, but there seems to be a lot of conflicting or biased information out there.
Jorge Lemieux data:
Water the vegetation. Big time. The insecticide is broken down by sunlight and high temperatures, but there is a mechanical process to remove the insecticide soon. Watering will remove the insecticide present in powder form instantly. Done, problem solved 🤪
These pyrethrums and pyrethroids are highly toxic to cats. Please do your research.
Burnaby BC Lawn Care data:
I really liked your article. I think it was a great post! There's a lot of information in there to process. One thing that struck me: It's important to know that pesticides can harm you, your children, pets, and others close to you who may be sensitive or young. Pesticides also kill insects like bees that pollinate our food supply and help control insects like mosquitoes.
o dave data:
Your post is so well written that it leaves no room for imagination to manipulate your image.
Obviously these are terrible chemicals, especially if the EPA, hugely conservative and at all costs to the industry, is issuing warnings about their use. I got the SDS information directly from the neighbor's fumigation company. They sent it to me cheerfully, as if they were proud. Herein lies one of the biggest problems: they were proud because the petrochemical industry and the White Knight, the EPA, had sold them a lot of products. They were told that if they paid to get licensed and use these prescription products, there was nothing that could go wrong. And they believe it.
And why shouldn't they? After all, why would the good folks at the American Tobacco Institute allow the sale of cigarettes if it would give their customer base cancer? Why would doctors give highly addictive and unhealthy drugs? Why would the FDA ban glyphosate if Monsato (Bayer) says it's perfectly safe? Why would the military spray PFAS all over Michigan if the water isn't safe to drink afterwards? It's the same with the EPA and petrochemicals. And make no mistake, there are petrochemicals in these products. Don't just take my word for it, ask for the information and do your research. We are slaves to the oil industry in many ways beyond our transportation industry, and there is simply too much money at stake to change.
The apotheosis of the dollar. And I'm not immune. I am as guilty as anyone else every time I don't act against the tide of ignorance that is engulfing our world. Idiocracy is here. Nothing is sacred, least of all life on our planet (yes, my dear anti-democrat, that includes human life).
Dave, excellent and well thought out answer.
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Silvia Darrow data:
I use a mosquito control company.
I still see many bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. My birds and my cat are still alive. We were not bitten by mosquito once! with the extremely
Montgomery County Strict Laws,
I defy most of this misleading article!
Every time someone says absurd things like "I've never been bitten by a mosquito"... they're lying. Proof? The fact that even the companies that make these treatments will tell you that they are not 100% effective and that you will still get SOME mosquitoes and probably still bite, but they should be at a much lower rate than before. That fictional commenter is probably someone who works for one of the companies that poisons people's gardens with products that don't work. But hey, let's get his anecdote about published and peer-reviewed research. Good?
The blog post is very helpful.
The experts' suggestions are really cool. They have covered almost every point to control mosquitoes and in recent times mosquito net windows are in fashion which prevent mosquitoes from entering your home or commercial space and also give your home an aesthetic look.
Laura P Guilherme data:
I walked my dog down the block in my neighborhood only to find myself walking (and then running) through clouds of smoke that burned my throat. Then I saw the sign advertising mosquito treatment in the garden and realized what was going on. I went straight home with a burning throat and a bad cough. As I ran away as quickly as possible, he caught me off guard and I took a little breath. I think it should be illegal, but apparently the EPA is allowing it! Are there any recommendations for clearing the throat and lungs after inhaling these toxins?
Karen Subida data:
Same here Laura! I walk my dog at night when it's cooler outside and this usually coincides with treating the neighbors' mosquitoes. Pest control companies advise clients to stay indoors for at least 30 minutes after spraying chemicals, but how are neighbors supposed to know to avoid the area? While safe inside, my dog and I walk through clouds of poison.
We have a raised garden and two large pots with 2-3 foot tall rosemary plants. My kids surprised me at an outdoor event, a company of backyard mosquitoes came and sprayed.
We try to grow all organic vegetables and herbs and I didn't know this was happening. Since October we haven't eaten any of the vegetables or herbs for fear of what was sprayed on them.
Is it possible to save these rosemary plants and the answer would be Cut back to restart growth?
Maria Travaglini data:
Jeanne, I don't know much about rosemary, but if it can grow back after it's been cut, I think you're probably fine. I don't think aerosols are absorbed by plant tissues, but I'm also not sure that much research has been done. I'm sorry you missed the fruits of your labor! FYI, let them know if they want to surprise someone again with an outdoor party, that setting up a bunch of fans and also providing some repellent for people's clothes is the best way to make the space mosquito free.
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L J data:
Hi... we had just moved into a new house and didn't know about the "organic" spray flow or that anyone in the neighborhood would be spraying. I experienced a spray reaction when my neighbor had his yard sprayed with Mosquito Shield. I got hit by the spray (inhaled it) and my lips started to burn, my tongue went numb and I felt a little dizzy. This went on for over an hour. I was able to ask the guy who was spraying what he was spraying and if he had any information I could read. He told me the spray was safe (cedar oil and garlic) but didn't have information about the full ingredient list. He gave me a number to call. When I contacted Mosquito Shield, the office owner returned my call. The owner told me that no one has ever had a bad reaction to the spray and that I must be allergic to garlic. I'm not allergic to garlic. He also told me he would email me the ingredient list for the mosquito control spray. I never got the list. I had to investigate this on my own. Thank you for this information about dangers to people, pets and wild animals. Since moving, I have designed gardens to increase my pollinator gardens. I also added groceries (fruit trees and shrubs, vegetables and lots of herbs) and I don't want any of the sprays on our property. My neighbor continued with the service for the rest of last summer, but luckily canceled this year and decided to make changes to her terrace area to protect it from mosquitoes.
bob k data:
Hello, any thoughts on "Essentria"? It is composed of rosemary, mint and geraneall. It's supposed to be safe for humans and pets, but I'm wondering about spiders (who fight on our side) and bees in particular. It's one thing if it's a deterrent and they go somewhere else, but does this Essentria kill them? I've read conflicting reports. Thanks!
Maria Travaglini data:
Hi Bob, I looked this up and it seems correct that it can also kill other insects like bees and arachnids like spiders. You can check out our latest blog on how to create a mosquito population trap to reduce mosquito numbers even further!
Ricardo Kramer data:
Contact with wet spray can kill other arthropods.
If we don't protect the insects that play a fundamental role in the life cycle, there's little point in protecting ourselves. It is estimated that 75% of species grown for human consumption are pollinated by insects. We've been in a pollinator crisis for a while now. Pollinator declines have been recorded in the US, where over 60% of domesticated bee colonies have died. The onslaught continues. It's simple, really. No pollinators, no food.
I use an all-natural essential oil solution from a mosquito spray company. I have to do more frequent treatments (2 weeks vs 3 weeks). For the past two years I have been mosquito free and have not seen a reduction in bees/butterflies/ants….
braden invoices data:(Video) This is Why You Never Mess With a Royal Guard...
I had problems with mosquitoes in my backyard. It makes sense that you'd want to try the right kind of spray. I'll make sure to work with a professional to make sure I handle things correctly.
Cathy Desmarais data:
We just sprayed our garden for mosquitoes... I had clothes drying on the line...
If I'd known the company was coming today, I wouldn't have hung up my sheets.
richard kramer, doctorate bce data:
The company should never have made this app. Request that your sheets and other items hanging from the line be replaced. This will definitely teach them a lesson about sloppy application.
Alternatively, you can wash the items in hot soapy water and this should remove most of the product. The products are applied in low concentrations, so they can be washed off.
If they used a natural product that contains peppermint oil, geraniol, etc., the odor may persist.
The option selected depends on your comfort level.
Byrne H Kelly data:
If insecticides/pesticides are banned in Montgomery County, what allows Mosquito Joe to operate in MoCo?
Ricardo Kramer data:
The ban applies to turf care products applied to lawns. Does not apply to mosquito control products and other products that are not specifically intended for the garden.
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