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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Mosquitoes, Misinformation, and Mad Neighbors (AKA: I'm uninvited)

I was over a neighbor’s house this weekend for a get together (yes, socially distanced and masked!). I do a pretty good job of not being a super-nerd and talking about insects or pests most of the time I’m around “normal” people. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. Neighbor “A” was talking with neighbor “B”. Suddenly I hear B say “This works really well because mosquitoes only live for a day.” It just came out of my mouth: no they don’t, adults live for two to three weeks. This earned me the first dirty look from B.

I may not be invited to the next neighborhood party.

Now A has a couple kids and we live in Georgia and we have mosquitoes. So they are understandably concerned about their kids being able to enjoy their backyard and not getting bit. We’ve also had quite a bit of rain this summer so the mosquitoes are out around our neighborhood. When you consider the diseases mosquitoes can spread, it’s reasonable to want to protect your family. So I definitely want to help A with some good info. However, B wasn’t done. “My daughter made a product and it’s chemical free and only kills the mosquito eggs so it works for weeks. We spray it all the time”. Where do I even start….

1. “My daughter made…” – It’s bewildering to me that so many people have come up with this wonder-product that works amazingly yet somehow they haven’t gotten EPA registration, marketed it, made their millions, or exterminated all the mosquitoes in the neighborhood yet. I hear a version of this quite often. People have found something they have cooked up that they swear works because “I know it works.” If it doesn’t have EPA approval with both lab and field testing, it’s not really working. It may even be dangerous to people and the environment.

2. “Only kills the eggs….” – I did some literature searches of the major scientific journals and there is nothing proven to kill just mosquito eggs. Ignoring the fact that the egg stage of most insects is the most resistant to mortality, this would be very hard to accomplish because some mosquitoes lay their eggs in the water, some outside. There are larvicides that affect the growth and development of mosquito larvae, but nothing for the eggs. I told A that there were products for adults and products for larvae but I wasn’t aware of anything that effectively targeted just eggs. (Second dirty look obtained from B.)

3. “Chemical free…” – I cringe every time I hear “natural” or “safe” or “no nasty chemicals”. This is one of my hot button issues and I can go on for pages and pages and pages on this. I’ll try for the abridged version: everything is a chemical. Water is “natural” and I would argue it isn’t safe; an average of ten people per day die from water in the US alone.

4. “We spray it all the time…” – Well, if you spray it all the time, how is it this magical product that works so well? One of the things I told A was it’s about placement. If you are trying to knock down adult mosquitoes with a spray/fog, you need to get it to where those adult mosquitoes are resting. If you don’t get the treatment to the pest, it doesn’t work very well. (Third dirty look received from B.)

I waited until B went to get a snack and told A that mosquito control wasn’t rocket science, but it wasn’t easy either; there were lots of things to consider like water sources, species of mosquitoes, and even what was going on in their neighbors’ yards. If they were concerned, call a professional that was trained and licensed, as the best way to get the best treatment. Of course that was the moment that B came back and I got yet another dirty look (number four if you are counting). She really doesn't like me. I took that opportunity to get another drink and find someone else to talk to.

Who are you taking pest management advice from? Do you have neighbor B with their wonder-product that is going to take care of all your pest worries or do you have someone that looks at the research and follows a well thought out plan that’s customized to what you have? While B wasn't being purposely misleading (she really does believe in the awesomeness of her product) it's still not good info. Have questions about your program and the products being used? Contact us today!

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