• ljmarkson

Dear Neighbor: Your Mosquito Control is Environmentally Hostile

Updated: Apr 27

Spring in Atlanta means the return of the war on insects. If I combined everyone in my area into one person, this is the snarky letter I'd write about the harm they’re doing to the ecosystem with their efforts to combat mosquitoes. Incomprehensibly, it's the wealthy and woke young families moving in who are turning our neighborhood into a lifeless, toxic place to live. Long after I'm gone, their children will live with the effects of their actions.

It's frustrating to see intelligent people willfully doing such unnecessary damage to our world. Writing this letter was cathartic because I'm so conflict averse I would never actually send this. I’m too neighborly!

Putting out this sign is as far as I go telling my neighbors how I feel about their mosquito spraying.

Dear Environmentally Hostile Neighbor, The sign in your yard tells me you believe in science. This makes my plea for you to stop destroying the local ecosystem an easy one because the scientific community agrees that indiscriminately killing insects is indefensible. You're an educated professional capable of critical thinking, so I've included relevant resources if you click the highlighted links. I’m sure once you know all the facts, you'll help make our neighborhood healthier. If you stop using a mosquito spraying company that indiscriminately kills all soft bodied insects, curious young children like yours could experience the wonders of seeing butterflies during the day and fireflies at night in their own yard. It doesn't seem you're aware that there are 27% fewer insects than there were 30 years ago, 25% fewer birds than there were 50 years ago, or that birds need to feed their babies a diet of 96% insects. For someone who signals support for ecological sustainability I can't imagine you would want to willfully contribute to starving baby birds

I watched a pair of carolina wrens work from sunrise to sunset bringing fresh insects to these sweet baby birds. If the yards around me didn't indiscriminately kill insects, I would imagine it would make the wren's job easier.

I don’t want to get all legal, which is not very neighborly and until recently not necessary because worrisome environmental issues like this just didn’t exist around here. I’ll just give you a heads up that mosquito spraying is regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and pesticide drift trespass is taken seriously. As you can imagine there are a gazillion federal and state rules around the use of toxic and dangerous chemicals. My friend Leslie from Pollinator Friendly Yards shared in her blog the steps she took when her neighbor’s mosquito spray drifted into her naturalized yard. Wow - they sure came out fast to test her soil and plants! Pesticides had indeed drifted onto her property. It was a no-brainer because using agricultural machines invented for crop dusting pretty much ensures drift.

There's little chance this drift from a neighbor's mosquito spraying service stays on their 2/10 of an acre property.

I sure wish I had this information a few years ago when a new neighbor’s mosquito company mistakenly sprayed me while I was gardening! The neighbor was oddly unsympathetic and nonchalantly told me I could avoid this happening again if I just went in my house when they sprayed. Geesh, some people! I'm glad I have that GA Dept. of Ag. number on speed dial now.

Yikes! This is the poison that is routinely sprayed all over my neighborhood by mosquito control companies.

There is also a growing momentum against the kind of gas-powered engines used for backpack mosquito spraying. So many of our neighbors have told me how much they despise the air and noise pollution from these machines. Needlessly contributing to climate change just doesn't seem to fit with your progressive-intown-family aesthetic.

I hope you don't pivot towards using one of those oversized insect lure devices sold to the uninformed masses at warehouse stores. They're not particularly effective against mosquitoes and their garish blue light indiscriminately attracts all light-seeking pollinators to their death.

The light pollution from a nearby carriage house is ridiculously unnecessary, but the addition of that shiny blue light from a Dynotrap insect lure trap indiscriminately attracting and killing all the moths and non-biting insects in the area should be criminal. Birds need those insects to survive.

The new green mosquito killer for hip eco-friendly people like you who shop at the farmers market on warm sunny days, drive a Prius, and pay a service to take your food waste and compost it for you (bravo to you for being so eco-virtuous!) are autocidal methods like Biogents GAT that specifically target mosquito reproduction. This passive, non-toxic mosquito control is the only one recommended by the Audubon Society; meaning it won’t take essential flying insects away from baby bird’s mouths.

This earnest male, white-breasted nuthatch will feed his sweetheart during courtship. Once mated for life, he will join her in finding the protein-rich insects their babies need to exclusively eat to survive. Restoring the insect population in my neighborhood would make their job much easier!

For the times when the nanny is off duty and y’all are forced to be outside in the wilds of messy nature with your kiddos there are additional simple ways to keep mosquitoes away

  • Check out all the bug sprays on Etsy. Some even have such cute packaging that you might find yourself posting a picture on your Insta page telling everyone about your eco-friendly find.

  • BTI mosquito dunks will kill mosquito larvae in any body of water in your yard, except of course your fancy new pool where there are already plenty of chemicals to keep mosquitoes away.

  • Another trick profiled in the New York Times is to just plunk down a rotating fan on any of those impervious surface areas you have to cover dirty soil, such as your extensive patio surrounded by a gravel “lawn”. Mosquitoes have a tough time flying in the wind and will stay away.

Letters can be so impersonal, so I hope this one hasn’t offended you. I’d stop by to talk in person but can tell from all the cars and service trucks coming and going at your busy house that living your super best life doesn’t include neighborly chats.

~Warm Regards

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