Folks in Connecticut who advocate for the responsible use of pesticides (and by “responsible use,” they mean very, very, very little, if not none) are in a tizzy about two new developments – a pro-pesticide coloring book featuring a character they liken to Joe Camel, and a new-fangled pesticide mister that sprays poisons on your property regularly, like a lawn sprinkler.
Nancy Alderman, the president of Environment and Human Health, Inc., based in North Haven, has been keeping her organization’s supporters up-to-date throughout the month. Her first email was about a company called Mosquito Squad. Here’s what Nancy wrote:
They have a coloring book for young children to download that is about your friendly cartoon pesticide sprayer “Dread Skeeter.” A quote from their website — ”Hi. I’m Dread Skeeter. My life’s mission is to kill mosquitoes and ticks. I don’t kill because I hate. I kill because I love. I love kids. I love pets. And I know that mosquitoes and ticks carry diseases that hurt kids and pets. (Adults, too, but I don’t get all mushy over adults – well, maybe moms and grandmas, but that’s where a manly man draws the line.)”
Nancy then added:
Federal and State Governments do not allow the tobacco industry to market to children and we should not be allowing the pesticide industry to market to children either. Young children, especially of coloring book age, do not have the knowledge or expertise to decide where or whether pesticides should be used.
This seems pretty serious and should be fixed.
[Huffington Post wrote about it here.]
Nancy followed that with news about pesticide misters. She wrote:
We all need to be informed about a relatively new piece of pesticide equipment – called a pesticide mister. Pesticide Misters are unregulated by both the EPA and most state governments. This is because they are considered an “application equipment” and EPA is only empowered to regulate pesticides themselves.
What would one do if one of these was installed in a yard next to you? How would you protect your pets or your children? It looks to me like at the present time there would be no protections.
There are effective, non-toxic methods of controlling mosquitoes and ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, provides a comprehensive summary of ways to avoid ticks. These include a very limited use of pesticides:
A single springtime application of acaricide [i.e., pesticides that kill ticks] can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68–100%.
That’s one application for the whole year, not regular spraying with a Pesticide Mister.
(We believe, by the way that that number comes from research conducted in Westchester County, N.Y., by Durland Fish, Ph.D., who is now professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases) and of forestry and environmental studies at the Yale School of Public Health.)
We don’t love mosquitoes or ticks. I’ve had Lyme Disease twice and Milan Bull, our senior director of science and conservation, told me the other day that after visiting one of our sanctuaries, he picked 78 ticks off himself.
But we recognize that insects of all kinds have an important role in our ecosystems. To give one very simple example: dragonflies eat mosquitoes, purple martins eat dragonflies. Therefore no mosquitoes means no dragonflies means no martins.
In nature, everything is connected to everything else. – Tom Andersen, director of communications and community outreach