As we count down the days until mosquitoes arrive, we’re counting down the top reasons not to spray adult mosquitos at home. At best, mosquitoes can be a significant nuisance, with nonstop biting and droning keeping us from enjoying the outdoors. In some cases, some mosquito species can vector diseases that impact humans and livestock.
The first wave of mosquitoes is often accompanied by pest control advertisements and trucks. Companies offering mosquito spraying services often take advantage of homeowner concerns, sending sales people door-to-door to sign homeowners up for their services. A well-intentioned resident or home owner simply trying not to get bitten might think these applications only kill mosquitoes, when in fact, they are toxic to the broader insect community.
We encourage you to not spray for mosquitoes. There are more effective, safer methods to control these pesky pests!
Top 5 reasons not to spray for mosquitoes at home
5) Mosquito sprays are toxic to all the cool beneficial insects you are attracting to your yard
Mosquito control companies tend to use a class of insecticides called pyrethroids, which are broadly toxic to insects. This includes our almost 4,000 species of native bees found in the United States as well as butterflies and moths, fireflies, and beneficial insects like lady beetles and dragonflies.
4) Confusing pesticide messaging understates the actual risks
Pest control companies often use messages that could miscommunicate the actual level of risk. Most of us want to believe the best, but either marketing or fear of mosquitoes might lead to a misrepresentation of the impact these treatments could have to the numerous beneficial creatures that depend upon your yard. Watch out for messages include things like:
- The chemicals are natural and derived from flowers. While pyrethroids are related to pyrethrins, naturally occurring toxins that are found in chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethroids are lab-made versions that are often more toxic and longer-lived than pyrethrins (which can be quite toxic as well).
- The pesticide dries and is safe! Just because a pesticide is dry does not mean it is inactive. Pyrethroid residues can be present from days to weeks.
- The pesticide is non-toxic. While pyrethroids are not as immediately harmful to people as some other insecticides, they are still toxic to a wide variety of valuable creatures that depend upon your yard to survive.
3) Eliminating standing water is a more effective solution
Mosquito larvae need water to survive. It’s easier to remove water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding than trying to kill flying adults, and larval mosquitoes don’t transmit disease. Mosquitoes only need one-inch of water to reproduce and can develop from egg to adult in only 8-10 days, so water that stands around for just over a week can lead to a population explosion. Dump water from buckets and trash cans, look for hidden flower pots that are filled with rain water, and ensure gutters and corrugated drain pipes aren’t clogged. The earlier you start, the better! Mosquitoes can reproduce rapidly, and removing breeding habitat early in the year can help keep their populations from exploding.
2) Mosquito sprays don’t really get rid of mosquitoes
Home mosquito sprays are not effective as long term control measures. They only target adult mosquitoes, and given how quickly these insects reproduce, this won’t put a big dent in the overall population. Though you might see mosquito numbers in your yard reduced for a short amount of time, this will only be temporary: mosquitoes are highly mobile insects, and new adults will quickly fly into your yard.
1) Mosquito management is most successful at the community level.
At the neighborhood level, talk to your neighbors about mosquito management and eliminating standing water as a solution. A whole neighborhood of people practicing common-sense mosquito management will have a much larger impact than just one yard.
At the community level, Bee City USA volunteers in Decatur, GA are a great example of a grassroots no-spray campaign utilizing public education, outreach, and local policy work to reduce mosquito spraying in their community.
Interested in digging in more? Xerces has more resources on mosquito management: