Soon the droning hum of one of humanity’s most omnipresent predators and card-carrying dangerous nuisances will be wrecking outdoor activities everywhere a spoonful of standing water can sustain mosquito larvae.
In other words, anytime we go outside we’ll likely become a blood host to a squadron of mosquitoes despite the industrial strength cloud recently left by pesticide laced fogging trucks.
And again, our perennial questions: Why does the mosquito population seem to grow each year after incessant pesticide use; is the pesticide safe and effective; and are there alternatives?
Chestertown Environmental Committee member Darran Tilghman recently presented the Chestertown Town Council with studies disputing the effectiveness and safety of mosquito fogging and offered a new approach to the problem, one she feels could make Chestertown a model for dealing with summer mosquito invasions.
Tilghman and the committee gathered data showing that the pesticides being sprayed in Chestertown—banned in the European Union—may be doing more harm than good and that there are more effective ways to deal with the seasonal mosquito onslaught than spraying residential areas with Permethrin, a neurotoxin “strongly linked to respiratory disease, ALS, cancers, and childhood brain damage.”
The Chestertown Environmental Committee recommends that residents take ownership of the solution by maintaining healthy backyards. Eliminating mosquito habitats like standing water and also targeting mosquito larvae with the organic bacillus in “Mosquito Dunks” can keep a yard free of mosquitoes for the whole summer by targeting only the larvae of the mosquito, blackfly and fungus gnat. Mosquito Dunks are inexpensive and may be found locally.
Here, Darran Tilghman encapsulates her presentation to the town council. She encourages residents to email their ward councilmembers to support healthier and more effective alternatives to the fogging trucks.
This video is approximately eight minutes in length.
More highlights of the Chestertown Environmental Committee, Water & Habitat Work Group report:
Current strategy: Adulticide fogging with neurotoxin Permethrin
- Ineffective: Kills ~10% of adult mosquitos in spray range (only the ones alive that day); does not affect larvae or prevent mosquito-borne disease. Only about 0.0000001% of spray hits a target mosquito.
- Kills indiscriminately: Toxic to critically important pollinators including bees, bats, and butterflies, as well as birds & fish (many of these are mosquito predators).
- Impacts human health: Strongly linked to respiratory disease, ALS, cancers, and childhood brain damage; banned in the EU; spraying is not permitted near schools or restaurants (but it is permitted on my front lawn). In addition to Permethrin, PFAs (forever chemicals) were found at dangerously toxic levels in three pesticides used for mosquito control by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA).
- Degrades water quality: Neurotoxins and PFAs stay in soils and groundwater, entering and damaging the Chester and the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
- Expensive and creates dependence: Creates resistant “super skeeters”; the more mosquito predator population collapses, the more we pay to spray- $3,100 annually.