Is your mosquito spray killing pollinators like bees and butterflies?

Efforts to keep yards and pools mosquito free could be putting the food supply at risk.

Hot, damp weather means more mosquitoes spawning and experts say using chemicals to kill the pesky bugs can also result in killing bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

"What most companies spray for mosquitoes are general insecticides," said Dr. Michael Reiskind, an entomologist at North Carolina State University. "Most of the sprays kill insects, they don't just kill mosquitoes. If an insect hits that spray, it's going to get killed, if there's a pollinator there, it's going to get killed."

A growing number of people are expressing their concerns about protecting pollinators on neighborhood social media sites and Dr. Reiskind says keeping pollinator populations at a good number is important to vegetation.

"Without pollinators for certain plants then we wouldn't have things that we like to eat. This includes things like zucchinis, watermelon, stuff like that that you might want to grow in your backyard garden," Dr. Reiskind said.

Gary Leider hates mosquitoes but loves the honey bees in the small hive at his Wake Forest home. He wanted to spend more time in his yard but says the mosquitoes made it difficult.

"I just didn't want to have to deal with that hassle cause we hang out in the back yard a lot by the pool," said Leider.

He decided to hire a company to spray his yard, but says he found one that shared his concerns about his bees.

"They spray and everything has been fine now for two years."

The owners and operators at Mosquito Authority say they share concerns about pollinators because many of the company's employees are beekeepers and farmers.

"We have a real understanding of what it is to be cautious and careful when we're on property that has bees, pollinators, a lot of plants, a lot of blooming flowers and things like that," said Jerry Yoder, Director of Operations. "We use a product that's regulated by the EPA. It is formulated in such a way that it is used on property and is not detrimental to pollinators if it's used the way the label says to use it," Yoder said.

Dr. Reiskind agrees that following those instructions is key but says not all companies take the same care.

"If they're following the rules they shouldn't be spraying flowering plants and that should limit the impact," Reiskind said.
Anyone looking for non-chemical ways to reduce the number of mosquitoes on their property can try burning citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay. Also make sure to dump any standing water on the property from items like pet bowls, tarps, kids toys and other areas after it rains. Downspouts and gutters should also be kept clear.

North Carolina's Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services regulates pest control companies.

You can search their website for a list of licensed applicators. Complaints about companies or illegal spraying can also be filed with the department.
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