TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The Associated Press recently wrote about the “chemical bombardment” occurring in the United States as pest control companies “drench trees, bushes and even house walls” with pesticides that target mosquitos.

The pesticides do indeed get rid of these pesky mosquitoes and contribute to reducing the impact of diseases like the West Nile virus but they are not without their costs to the environment, other insects and animals in the vicinity of the chemicals.

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The AP reports that scientists are very concerned that these pesticides are harming pollinators and are becoming a “growing threat to birds that eat insects.”

Lynn Goldman, an environmental health professor at George Washington University and former assistant administrator for toxic substances at the EPA, says, “The materials these companies spray kill ALL bugs. That includes bees, butterflies and all kinds of beneficial bugs that maybe people don’t love but should. It’s not good to have this kind of indiscriminate killing, messing up the whole ecosystem.”

Spraying companies acknowledge that there is collateral damage to pollinators and other insects but say that there is a need to eliminate the mosquitos because of the diseases that they carry.

There is data to back that up from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who reported that 2020 had a “dramatic” increase in illness spread by mosquitoes and other blood feeders in the United States including Zika, Chikungunya and West Nile viruses.

The AP reports that most spraying companies have a “residual barrier” strategy where they spray pesticides around the perimeter of the property and it lasts for a few weeks. When the mosquitoes settle into the trees and bushes, they get a lethal dose.

Many spraying companies keep coming back on a regularly scheduled basis. However, if a spraying company is doing their job, a customer wouldn’t need their services over time because the company would be able to clear out the breeding areas and only spray when needed instead of on a continuous schedule.

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Spraying companies usually use a bug-killing substance called pyrethrins that is supposed to be safe for humans when used correctly and is “mostly nontoxic to birds.”

However, the chemicals are deadly to fish and bees and they can harm birds indirectly by killing the insects that they feed on.

Dog owners need to take heed as well. If the insecticide lands on landscaping wood chips and the dogs inject the chips, the dog can get very sick or worse. Mulch itself is dangerous for dogs causing intestinal blockage, perforations and other problems and it can also carry mold on the wood pieces.

Spraying pesticides on mulch makes the situation even more problematic. Pet owners should always do their research on anything they use in their gardens and yards to make sure it’s not harmful to their pets.

Instead of using harsh chemicals, other options are available to homeowners to get rid of mosquitoes including emptying stagnant water sources and running electric fans to keep those pesky mosquitoes away.

Some homeowners are also trying things like spraying water mixed with essential oils from plants like lemongrass, peppermint, garlic and rosemary that are less harmful to other insects.

There are also plants that are known to repel mosquitoes including lavender, catnip, basil, lemon balm, peppermint and rosemary.