Mosquito Control
May 23, 2011 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Mosquito treatment: just how evil is it? How well will it work?

I live in a neighborhood where we have severe mosquito problems. Basically, from May to November of each year, at all times of day and night, there are so many mosquitoes that you can feel yourself hitting their little bodies as you walk; there are swarms of them everywhere at all times. Sometimes it has been so bad that I have put bug spray on my kids just walk them to the car, in part because we end up with a car full of mosquitoes every time. It is about as bad at noon on a sunny day as it is at dusk.

I would like my children to be able to play outside, and we'd like to be able to use the neighborhood park. I'd like to be able to grill once in awhile. These things are pretty well impossible.

This year, one of my neighbors is organizing people for spraying, through a neighborhood program offered by a pest control company. On the one hand, I am ready to sign up because the situation is unlivable. But I have two concerns: one is the environmental impact and concern for children and pets, and the other is whether monthly treatments will make a significant difference. I'd love to be pointed to good, non-hysterical information on the former, and to hear people's experience with the latter.

Please don't waste your time suggesting things like mosquito traps, or checking for standing water, or other basic mosquito control measures. We are way beyond that now.
posted by not that girl to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: In case it matters: they will actually spray 2x/month.
posted by not that girl at 1:36 PM on May 23, 2011

According to the EPA, most of the ways of treating mosquitoes are pretty safe. Oils are the one exception, and they've fallen out of favor for that reason. Microbial larvicides are entirely safe, and most of the organophosphates and methoprenes seem okay too.

I can't give you any guarantees that this is going to work--even if they kill the mosquitoes breeding in your neighborhood, the f*ckers can fly in from neighboring communities, yes?--but the risks of injury to persons, animals, and the environment seem decidedly low.
posted by valkyryn at 1:41 PM on May 23, 2011

I used to work in municipal mosquito control in NoVA. Our county did not spray, but the county next to ours did. In my opinion, and in the opinion of my boss, spraying was costly and ineffective, as it essentially sets up a Maginot Line-like barrier that mosquitoes will generally outflank. I think you would get a lot more bang for your buck by using BT-based larvicides in your municipal storm drains. We used these nifty little bio-degradable packets of the stuff, not unlike these guys. I'm not sure exactly what the pest control company is using to spray, so I can't comment on possible toxicity.
posted by The White Hat at 1:54 PM on May 23, 2011

I grew up in Florida, where those little blood suckers were a HUGE problem. I remember the county spraying every two weeks, and it definitely made a difference. My friends and I were always outside playing - our parents never sprayed us down with bug spray, and I cannot recall a time where any of us had mosquito bites.
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:09 PM on May 23, 2011

I cannot speak for your neighborhood situation (and the treatign the eggs/larval stage is a necessity) But living in Florida for 12 years now and Mosquito Barrier has been a life(blood?)saver for my wife and kids.

Unless there are heavy rains, it seems to last almost 3 months per application. I usually spray in April, June and August and can grill and have the kids play out back with nary a mosquito. We also live next to a wooded lot and across the street from a heavy wooded area and a natural lake not too far off so they are breeding nearby without a doubt. My neighbors seem to benefit a little from the applications too as they can smell the first day I apply it and notice a difference as well. If I go down the street more than several houses the mosquitos are all over the place again.

posted by emjay at 3:51 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have lived in south Florida for 14 years where the area is sprayed (via plane) on a regular basis throughout the summer. Number of mosquitoes I have seen in that time (not including when I've been in a wildlife preserve): one. Seriously, one.

Number of health worries this gives me: zero.

Napalm the bloodsucking bastards, I say.
posted by contessa at 4:01 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Could you find out what they intend to spray, and anything else they might use, and report back?
posted by exphysicist345 at 7:10 PM on May 23, 2011

You know, you might want to call your local health department and see if they will spray for free. Many municipalities spray because of the danger of West Nile virus transmission to vulnerable populations. On that level, at least, it does work. I don't know if a local pest control company would be as effective, but you can always ask them about other neighborhoods they've treated and ask the residents. A reputable company will tell you.

As to health and environmental concerns, well...I think if you have that much of a problem, there's probably already a gap in the local ecosystem that's enabling their population to boom. Short of a bat colony, the spray is probably your best hope for now for relief.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:48 PM on May 23, 2011

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