Q. During the warm months, I see road signs all over the Barrington area from companies offering to spray yards for mosquitoes. Is this a good practice? I worry about mosquito-born diseases, and the bugs are a nuisance.
A. The quick answer is definitely "no." Spraying individual yards is a dangerous and unnecessary practice that promulgates the overuse of insecticides, kills many non-target insects, and is simply ineffective.
Ruth Kerzee, Executive Director of Midwest Pesticide Action Center says that our homes are all part of Mosquito Abatement Districts (MAD) that are designed to control mosquitoes in the safest, most effective, and least expensive ways possible. Here are some ways of controlling mosquitoes:
- Fogging to control adult mosquitoes is the most hazardous, most expensive and least effective method.
- Applying larvicide to control mosquitoes before they hatch is the most effective method and is safer for both people and the environment as well as being less expensive than fogging.
- Natural controls (such as gardening with native plants and avoiding pesticides) encourage populations of predatory species like dragonflies and birds to control biting insects.
We are most aware of fogging by MADs, but it is much less effective than larviciding and is more harmful to humans, pets, wildlife, and the environment. Fogging has a very low rate of contact with the targeted species, and it is non-specific for mosquitoes. It kills non-target organisms as well. Furthermore, it is expensive. It is far better to remove breeding areas (dump standing water) and larvicide water bodies.
Finally, applying additional insecticides by utilizing private companies to spray or fog individual properties is dangerous and ineffective. Save your money; save the native insects, birds and amphibians; don't contract with private companies to treat your property.
Meredith Tucker, Citizens for Conservation