What You Need to Know Before Spraying for Mosquitoes

Author:  DAVID MIZEJEWSKIDAVID WEBER   |   SEPTEMBER 2, 2020
Hiring a company to spray your yard for mosquitoes will also kill other insects, including bees and butterflies.

When the weather is nice, there’s nothing better than getting out of the house to enjoy nature right outside your door. Whether it’s grilling out with family, doing some gardening, or even just taking a nap in the fresh air, spending time in your yard or on your deck or patio is a great way to connect with nature. Good friends and family and backyard birds and butterflies are always welcome, but there’s one guest nobody wants visiting while enjoying time outside: mosquitoes.

These pesky insects can turn a pleasant outdoor gathering into an itchy nightmare. No one likes mosquito bites, so it’s understandable that you may be considering hiring a mosquito-control company to treat your yard by spraying it with insecticide. Maybe you already have.

Unfortunately, despite marketing claims, these sprays don’t just harm mosquitoes. The most widely used residential mosquito sprays are also highly toxic to native pollinators such as bees and butterflies, fish, and other aquatic organisms, and they can even pose a risk to pets and people. Here’s what you need to know before spraying.

What’s in Mosquito Sprays?

Most residential mosquito control companies use insecticides known as pyrethrins, which are chemicals derived from chrysanthemum flowers that are toxic to insects; or more frequently, pyrethroids, which are synthetic chemicals that mimic pyrethrins. Whether natural or synthetic, these are broad-spectrum insecticides that are highly toxic to a wide variety of insects, not just mosquitoes.

Tiger swallowtail on a purple coneflower.

Companies such as Mosquito Joe, Mosquito Squad, Mosquito Authority and a host of others use pyrethrins and pyrethroids in their standard treatment options. Marketing efforts and corporate talking points correctly state that these pesticides are regulated and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but that doesn’t mean they are without any negative environmental consequences.

We know the specific pyrethroids that these companies use such as bifenthrindeltamethrin, and permethrin are all highly toxic to bees, killing them on contact and for one or more days after treatment, a fact the EPA itself acknowledges.

There is no way for companies to spray these broad-spectrum insecticides in your yard without also killing other insects they come in contact with, including bees, butterflies, caterpillars, ladybugs, dragonflies and other beneficial insects, along with the mosquitoes.

 

How Sprays Hurt Bees and Other Wildlife

 

The focus of much of the toxicity testing by regulatory agencies has been on domesticated honey bees because their pollination services are critically important for our agriculture system and food production. Researchers have documented widespread contamination of honey bee hives with toxic pyrethroids, finding residues of these chemicals in the pollen that bees bring back to the hive, in beeswax, and on bees themselves, at levels that can be lethal to bees or cause harmful effects.

Honey bee enjoying nectar.

Even extremely small, residual doses of the chemicals used in mosquito sprays can disorient honey bees and prevent them from

returning to the hive. One study found that after topical application of only 0.009 micrograms of permethrin per bee, none of the observed bees returned to the hive at days end because of disorientation due to the treatment. A separate study with different authors found similar effects for deltamethrin, which disoriented 91% of return bee flights to the hive after a dose of only .0025 micrograms per bee. With declining bee populations worldwide threatening global food security and nutrition, we can’t afford to continue killing or harming bees.

Much less is known about the impacts of these sprays on wild insects and other native wildlife, but mosquito-control insecticides have been linked with declines of native pollinators. It’s clear that wild native bees and other pollinators are also at risk from mosquito pesticides. Wild bee susceptibility to insecticides directly correlates with the surface area to volume ratio of the bee, meaning smaller bees like alfalfa-pollinating alkali bees native to the west and southwestern U.S. are at even greater risk from mosquito sprays than honey bees.

Recently, thousands of monarch butterflies

 were found dead in the Fargo-Moorhead area of North Dakota and Minnesota after aerial spraying of a 100-square mile area with permethrin to control mosquitoes. Monarch populations have plummeted at an alarming rate in recent decades. The total ecological impact of a spraying event like this is untold, but surely devastating to an unimaginable number of wild insects due to permethrin’s broad-spectrum toxicity.

 

Many insects are beneficial to humans, serving as pollinators and pest predators. Many are beautiful and iconic, like the monarch butterfly. Insects are also part of the base of the food web, without which other wildlife cannot survive.

For example, 96 percent of our backyard birds rely on insects as the exclusive food source for their babies. When you spray your yard for mosquitoes, you also kill off that food source and make it more difficult for birds to successfully reproduce. Almost 30 percent of the North American bird population has disappeared in just the last 50 years. Insect populations themselves are rapidly plummeting as well. Pesticides are a factor in all of these wildlife declines.

Mosquitoes themselves play an ecological role, serving as pollinators and as a food source for other wildlife.

 

Other Impacts of Mosquito Sprays

Mosquito sprays aren’t just toxic to insects, either. Runoff can wash these chemicals from our yards into surface waters, where they can poison aquatic organisms such as fish and crustaceans, which are highly sensitive to pyrethroidsPets exposed to pyrethroids can experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and other symptoms.

 

While the risk to humans from pyrethroids is relatively low when applied properly, these products are far from harmless to human healthPeople exposed to large amounts of pyrethroids can experience effects like stinging skin, dizziness, headache, or nausea that might last for several hours. Pyrethroids can enter your body if you breathe air containing the chemicals, eat food that has been contaminated by the spray, or if your skin comes into contact with the spray. Children and infants are the most vulnerable risk group to pyrethroids.

Alternatives to Spraying

Luckily, it’s possible to keep mosquitoes at bay and reduce your chances of being bitten even without pesticide sprays. We encourage you to avoid broad-spectrum insecticide sprays because of their deadly impacts on non-target insects and other wildlife, and instead consider more effective and less harmful mosquito control strategies.

Many companies offer “organic” spray options marketed as less dangerous. Such sprays are typically made up of various plant-based essential oils, but that doesn’t mean they are effective or without negative impacts. These oils can still be harmful to bees and other beneficial insects upon direct contact, so they shouldn’t be used on flowering plants or during the day when bees are active. More research is needed to fully understand the impacts of these alternative sprays on native insects and other organisms.

Overall, the most effective and safest ways to control mosquitoes in your yard are through source reduction and early intervention. Mosquito larvae need stagnant water to develop, so try to regularly remove or drain sources of standing water which can pool up in gutters, corrugated PVC drainage pipes, kids’ playsets or any debris left outside. For sources of water you can’t drain, use mosquito dunks or other products containing the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis or “Bt,” which targets mosquito larvae and other biting flies but is essentially harmless to other wildlife and people. Other wildlife like turtlescopepods, frogs, dragonflies and birds are voracious predators of mosquitoes, so enlist their help by gardening for wildlife and doing your part to maintain healthy populations of these wild allies.

If mosquitoes are still a problem for you, you can protect yourself from bites by wearing long sleeves when mosquitoes are present or using repellents containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus, a botanical spray that has been shown to be as effective as synthetic repellents. Even a simple electric fan can help significantly by blowing away your scent and making it harder for mosquitoes to find you.

Mosquitoes are annoying, but we don’t need to sacrifice native wildlife and put our own health at risk to keep them away. As you head outdoors, ditch the toxic mosquito spray services, and take advantage of the more natural and effective ways to reduce mosquito bites. You’ll get to enjoy a painless outdoor celebration, and the bees will thank you.

Published By: National Wildlife Federation

Pesticide Safety

Webinar Held on: Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

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Brief Webinar Description: In this program, we explore the difference between toxicity and hazard. Then we talk about routes of entry into the body. Personal protective equipment needs will be reviewed. Label signal words will be visited and common symptoms and emergency responses will be discussed.

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IPM For Schools

Webinar Held on: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

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Brief Webinar Description: This webinar will explore all facets of a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program designed specifically for school environments. This discussion will touch on topics including decision making, program planning, and implementation, prevention, control methods, as well as chemical and organic options.

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IPM For Bed Bugs

Webinar Held on: Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

CEU Credit Approved States: CA, FL, GA, IN, NM, & SC.

Brief Webinar Description: Bed bug resurgence is a critical matter. This program will explore bed bug habits, the identification of bed bugs, their biology and life cycle, and their behavior. The discussion will pertain to inspecting for bed bugs, preparations for service, non-chemical control tactics, and chemical controls.

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Fly Control IPM

Webinar Held on: Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

CEU Credit Approved States: DC, FL, GA, IN, ME, NM, & SC.

Brief Webinar Description: Small flies of all types breed typically in unsanitary conditions and can create an infestation in less than two weeks. This webinar will discuss methods for combatting fruit flies, and how to help your customer prevent a full-fledged infestation. Inspection, communication, sanitation, and pest control work hand-in-hand to eliminate and prevent small flies.

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Ant Basics

Webinar Held on: Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

CEU Credit Approved States: CA, DC, FL, GA, ME, NM, SC & TX.

Brief Webinar Description: This webinar will focus on how ant colonies develop. We will discuss ants’ social behavior and how it can help identify the pest ant species. Common species will be viewed with behavioral keys. Inspection tactics and control measures will be explored.

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The Truth Behind the Lies of Natural Mosquito Control

Pest professionals today are faced with more and more requests to control mosquito populations on their customer’s property using “natural” or “green” control methods. Perhaps your customers have inquired about some of the following natural methods to control mosquitoes. Find out why some of the most popular green recommendations to control mosquitoes are indeed ineffective and why.

 

Lie #1: Placing bat houses in an area will attract more bats that in turn will eat the mosquitoes and control populations.

Truth: Many bat species are indeed insectivores that will eat mosquitoes. However, bats will eat many other species of insects as well such as beetles and moths. Studies have shown that when bats were caught in the wild their gut contents were made up of less than 1% of mosquitoes. Bat houses are not an effective means of mosquito control as this WebMD article explains.

 

Lie #2: Bug Zappers are an effective means of controlling mosquitoes.

Truth: Bug zappers are a popular summer time purchase by the homeowner who prefers to avoid chemical applications to control mosquitoes in their yard or on the patio or deck where they sit. The black light electrocution devices attract and electrocute pests that come into contact with the device. The problem is bug zappers cannot tell the difference between mosquitoes and other insects and therefore kill lots of beneficial insects as well. And, as the American Mosquito Control Association reported, one study found there was no significant difference in mosquito populations in yards that used bug zappers and those that did not.

 

Lie #3: Landscaping choices can repel mosquitoes

Truth: It would certainly make a homeowner’s life easy if they could simply purchase a few types of plants with mosquito repelling properties, place them in the outdoors spaces they use most and instantly repel mosquitoes from the area. This often talked about gardening tip is simply untrue. While certain plants may contain citronella, garlic or other mosquito repelling scents the plants on their own have no way in which to send these smells into the air to magically chase mosquitoes away.

 

Lie #4: Green Mosquito Control Is Not As Effective As Traditional Pesticides

Truth: One of the more unfortunate myths that even a pest professional may believe is that if a homeowner requests a green approach to mosquito control that the current natural insecticide choices available are ineffective. ER-3 by EcoRaider is a plant based bio-insecticide which is a triple-action, breakthrough formula that knocks down adult mosquito populations, offers spatial repellency to keep mosquitoes from the area and kills larvae to prevent future generations. Click here to learn more about why ER-3 by EcoRaider is high performing and yet safe for sensitive accounts.

 

Consider Green Mosquito Control This National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Summer is officially here! That means pool parties and backyard BBQs, of course, but for the homeowner it also means the dreaded mosquito season has arrived. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has declared this week of June 23-29, 2019 as National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent than ever before and the height of mosquito season is fast approaching. There are numerous ways for you to help your customers declare independence from hungry mosquitos who want nothing more than our blood for their next meal. As a pest professional, be sure to reach out to your community and customers to educate them on mosquito prevention.

As you treat your customers homes take a look around their property making recommendations to help them create a mosquito-free zone:

1. Dispose of any tires – Mosquitos lay eggs in the standing water that often collects in tires. It is a safer place as the water in the tires can withstand heavy storms and acts as an insulation.
2. Drill holes in the bottom of trash and recycling containers – We don’t always realize it, but water can collect in our trash cans. Drilling holes keeps water from collecting in these common areas.
3. Clear roof gutters of debris – Mosquitos don’t need much water in which to lay their eggs. Even the small amount that collects in roof gutters can be the perfect place for eggs to hatch.
4. Clean pet water dishes regularly – If you leave water outside for your pet, be sure to change it daily. This is not only a good idea for the health of your pet, but also to keep mosquitos from laying eggs and spreading in your backyard.
5. Empty children’s toys – Beach buckets, pint-size toy trucks, and tea party sets left outside in the rain should be checked and cleaned regularly. Mosquitos could be preparing to hatch inside these often forgotten items.
6. Repair leaky outdoor faucets – The water from these faucets quickly collects and is just enough.
7. Change the water in bird baths at least once a week – A bird bath is great for the birds and perfect for mosquito breeding. Clean out baths each week to avoid problems.

The goal of pest control professionals should be to prevent the spread of mosquitos throughout our public health landscape. One of the best ways is with green mosquito control such as ER-3 by EcoRaider. ER-3 is a green, triple-action breakthrough mosquito formula that knocks down adult mosquito populations, kills adults, kills larvae to prevent future generations and acts as a barrier by spatial repellency to keep mosquitoes from the area. ER-3 is ideal for all mosquito and general pest control needs: affordable, reduces treatment time and has no restrictions.  ER-3 is complete mosquito control with one single product.

In a crowded market, EcoRaider ER-3 stands out above the rest with a solution that can increase mosquito program revenues with a green, 25b exempt product that does not require spray notifications. Click here for more information, request a free product test run, or visit your local pest supplies distributor to buy today.

Top Tips for PMPs to Treating Sensitive Accounts for Bed Bugs

 

Just as the name implies bed bugs prefer to live near their host, and so, can be found living on or near beds or sleeping areas. This creates a unique enough challenge for the pest professional but when an account has young, sick or elderly people, the best course of treatment may be a green one that does not include the use of pesticides.

Bed bugs can be controlled in a fast, effective, lasting and green manner with these tips:

  1. Vacuum – Begin by reducing the number of bugs with a good HEPA bed bug vacuum with a self contained HEPA filter. It is highly recommended that you use a vacuum made specifically for bed bugs that comes complete with a crevice tool to reach cracks and crevices where bed bugs can hide. Vacuum the mattress, box spring, baseboards and all cracks and crevices where bed bugs and their eggs can hide.
  2. Use steam or heat – Vacuuming alone will not completely eliminate all bed bugs and their eggs from a room. Therefore a chemical-free method to kill off bed bugs missed during Step #1 is to use heat or steam. Bed bugs will die at temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow your heat or steam company recommendations and safety steps prior to and during treatment.
  3. Choose an effective green product with residual – Choose a minimum risk pest control product preferably one that carries no signal words or cautions. EcoRaider is an ideal choice for sensitive accounts. It has no label restrictions or precautions on usage and may be used alone or as part of an IPM program in a variety of settings from schools and healthcare facilities to public spaces. EcoRaider kills bed bugs at all life stages: eggs, nymphs and adults. It has a lab reported 14-day residual with low-odor and non-staining.

Every pest management professional is asked at one time or another to respond to a pest problem in a green manner. EcoRaider provides the performance and quick kill that pest professionals have come to rely on with traditional pesticides. It is an essential tool in the pest management toolbox.

About EcoRaider
EcoRaider is a highly efficacious botanical-based bio-insecticide that can be applied anywhere bed bugs or ants are found without restriction. It carries no signal words or cautions and has no label restrictions or precautions on usage.

Because EcoRaider is a green product, it is an ideal fit for sensitive accounts and environments where low-impact methods are advised. These include college dorms, senior-living facilities, managed-care and assisted-living housing, schools, health-care facilities, public housing, multi-family, and hotels.

Register for the March 14th Webinar on the Resistance Issue – and Explains Why EcoRaider is a tool for Combating It

Registration is now open for the free EcoRaider webinar “Pesticide Resistance,” being given by industry expert Dennis Judy on March 14th from 3-4 pm ET. Resistance is likely the most important issue facing pest control as an industry, and Judy will examine all aspects of resistance as well as how to combat it. To register, click here.

Resistance is the issue of synthetic pesticides becoming less effective over time in killing or controlling various pests. As species of pests evolve, they become more resistant to existing chemicals and harder to control. Judy, a longtime industry expert, will discuss resistance overall, how it came to occur, best practices for resistance management, and the products that are experiencing issues with bed bug resistance.

Judy, who started his career with Orkin, is a member of the Georgia Pest Control Association’s Hall of Fame. He serves as the technical consultant for EcoRaider, assisting in the development and presentation of training materials and webinars for Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) and distributor representatives.

The webinar will be approximately 30 minutes of presentation followed by question and answer. Also, PMPs or distributor reps can submit questions online during the webinar. Click here to register for the March 14th webinar.

About EcoRaider
EcoRaider is a highly efficacious botanical-based bio-insecticide that can be applied anywhere bed bugs or ants are found without restriction. It carries no signal words or cautions and has no label restrictions or precautions on usage.

Because EcoRaider is a green product, it is an ideal fit for sensitive accounts and environments where low-impact methods are advised. These include college dorms, senior-living facilities, managed-care and assisted-living housing, schools, health-care facilities, public housing, multi-family, and hotels.

For more information, visit https://www.ecovengerpro.com/ or call 1-800-338-0212. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.