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3516Anit-mosquito spraying and bees

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  • Susan Gitlin
    Aug 24, 2014
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      This morning at about 11:00 I watched a young man with the company Mosquito Authority spray a neighbor's good-sized patch of Black-eyed Susans.  I asked him about the impact on bees, and he replied that he wasn't hurting any bees.

      Mosquito-spraying has become somewhat of a contentious issue here in Alexandria, VA, because many people like to hire companies to spray their yards against mosquitoes (and they say that they find the spraying very effective), while others are concerned about the impact on beneficial insects.  

      In my own yard, and in a small neighborhood park that I maintain, I plant many native plants in the hope that they will provide habitat for our local wildlife.  I am therefore concerned that the insects that my plants attract may be hurt by the spraying in neighbors' yards, either through drfit, or, more likely, when they visit the flowers in those yards.

      I am hoping to work with the community to find options that will be a win-win for everyone.  I am hoping that you can help me determine to what degree the Mosquito Authority's practices might be unsafe for beneficial insects and, if so, whether you've seen solutions that work.  I know that there are neighborhood-focused initiatives to swear off the use of pesticides, but I am confident that many of my neighbors feel too strongly about the benefits of anti-mosquito spraying to be willing to participate in such an initiative.

      Here are some questions that I hope you can answer:

      1) Are the Mosquito Authority's sprays harmful to bees or other pollinators?
      2) If you don't know about the pesticides that the Mosquito Authority uses, per se, are there particular pesticides that they could be using that ARE or ARE NOT harmful?  (I'd like to know what to ask about if I talk to this company or their competitors.)
      3) If the pesticides are harmful, are there application practices that they could use that would minimize the impact on pollinators?
      4) I had read that one way to reduce the impact on pollinators was to avoid spraying flowers.  I am struggling to find that information again.  Do you know of resources that discuss this? 
      5) If spraying flowers does cause problems, is it because the insects may be on the flowers, or hovering around them, and therefore be directly sprayed?  Or is it because the insect will be affected by the pesticide when it lands on the flower at a later time?  Or both?
      5) Do mosquito spraying companies have to register themselves with any particular agencies before doing their work?  Do those agencies require any specific types of best practices?
      6) Do you know of cities that have taken the initiative to address the concerns that I have?

      Thank you very much for your help with this.  I want to determine whether action is warranted and, if so, what an effective approach might be.

      Thank you.

      -- Susan Gitlin

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