Editorials

Mosquito Contol: Keep expectations realistic

MOSQUITO CONTROL

Keep expectations realistic

We report on city and village government from three communities, and the same question has come up at each one: Are you spraying for mosquitoes? The answer is always “Yes.” It has to be.

Spraying for mosquitoes goes right along with mom, baseball and apple pie. To do otherwise would be politically unpopular.

There are dozens and dozens of products available to kill mosquitoes and each manufacturer claims success.

How could they be expected to say otherwise? For many people, those claims are all they need to know. If they hear the sound of the sprayer in the neighborhood, they’re convinced that mosquitoes are dropping by the thousands.

It’s interesting to read about mosquito control tactics among various state and local agencies. Some groups sound as though they’re serving as part of the sales staff for pesticide companies. Others aren’t so quick to endorse success. Take sources at the University of North Carolina, for instance. Officials there don’t deny that spraying will kill some mosquitoes—and all other insects of a similar size—but it points out that a spray will cover only a limited area and for a limited amount of time. Before long, others will rush in to fill the ranks.

Some studies have found that continued spraying makes mosquitoes more pesticide resistant. Those that don’t receive a high enough dose of poison to kill them will become better able to survive. Rather than protecting against the spread of the West Nile virus, say some researchers, spraying results in pesticide resistant adults, turning them into a more effecient means of spreading the disease.

Many sources suggest that the communities would do better with taxpayers’ money by eliminating breeding areas rather than spraying for adult mosquitoes. Residents need to learn the role they can play in preventing breeding areas. Perhaps they’ll learn not to fall for the demands to drain all wetlands. It’s been proven in more than one location that a healthy wetland can actually reduce the number of mosquitoes due to the predators living in the water.

The fear of contracting the West Nile virus is nothing to scoff at, but people must maintain realistic expectations. We can’t live in a mosquito-free world; it’s not possible. And like it or not, it’s not a desirable wish.

A world without mosquitoes would lead to a world without several other beneficial animals that feed on mosquitoes, which would in turn lead to the absence of other animals and the cycle would continue. It would be a world without balance

Whatever approach is taken, people must realize the limitations of mosquito control. And in the meantime, slap on your favorite repellant and head outdoors.

So far, this has to be one of the most mosquito-free seasons on record— just like it was before the spraying began.

 

    – DGG, June 18, 2003