Quantcast

Mosquito Spraying Ineffective and Toxic to Wildlife and Humans

Xerces Society

Scientists at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation sent a letter yesterday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that the agency abandon a proposed mosquito control project at the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Although no public health emergency has been declared, and no existence of mosquito-transmitted disease has been found, a decision was made to spray about 10,000 acres in and around the refuge with two insecticides, Dibrom and MetaLarv S-PT. Both of these insecticides are toxic to a broad variety of wildlife.

Dibrom is intended to kill adult mosquitoes. The active ingredient is naled, an organophosphate nerve agent that is highly toxic to humans as well as to a wide range of wildlife. Drift from spraying can negatively impact pollinators such as honey bees, native bees and butterflies. This type of spraying is widely recognized as being an ultimately ineffective form of mosquito management, especially for a species such as the salt marsh mosquito (Aedes dorsalis), which is being targeted at Bandon, because it can fly 10 miles or more from its emergence site and will recolonize the treated area.

MetaLarv S-PT is a slow-release formulation of methoprene, a compound that mimics the naturally-occurring juvenile hormone in insects. Although much less toxic to humans than Dibrom, MetaLarv is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates including dragonfly nymphs, aquatic beetles, mayflies, non-biting midges and crustaceans from copepods to crabs, and may be linked to developmental defects in amphibians.

“The Xerces Society has grave concerns with the chemical controls proposed for salt marsh mosquitoes at Bandon Marsh NWR and the Bandon area,” said Celeste Mazzacano, aquatic conservation director of the Xerces Society and lead author of the report Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands. “To say that the spraying will not harm animals is misunderstanding the true impact of these chemicals. There are much better ways to control mosquitoes.”

The current plan calls for spraying about 10,000 acres of marshland and forests around Bandon, including residential and recreational areas, despite the fact that there are no reports of mosquitoes infesting the beach or the town. This plan runs counter to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own draft mosquito control policy which states: “we will allow populations of native mosquito species to function unimpeded unless they cause a human and/or wildlife health threat” (emphasis added).

It is also contrary to the widely adopted tenets of Integrated Pest Management, in which a thorough process of surveillance is conducted to determine the “hotspots” of mosquito larval development and those sites are spot-treated with the least toxic insecticide possible, when and as needed.
 
The plan has also not addressed the potential impact that spraying could have on shorebirds and song birds that use invertebrates as food as they migrate southward in September and October, or on the federally endangered western snowy plovers that inhabit coastal beaches year-round. Because of disruption of food webs waterfowl that migrate later in the fall could also be affected.

In addition, there is apparently no consideration of how this could affect fisheries. Both organophosphates and methoprene are directly toxic to fish, and many young fish feed on the invertebrates that would be killed under this treatment plan. MetaLarv is also highly toxic to young crabs as well as other crustaceans, and can cause abnormalities in development and reproduction at sublethal doses.

“This spraying project is not a solution and has long-term impacts and we call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to halt it,” said Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society and co-author of the report. “We urge the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex to develop a rational, environmentally sound and effective mosquito management plan for the Bandon Marsh area in accord with the tenets of Integrated Pest Management.”

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new rule that ends limits for hog slaughtering speeds could increase animal suffering, advocates warn. kickers / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new hog slaughtering rule Tuesday that environmental and food safety advocates warn could harm animals, plant workers and public health, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Prehistoric and historic walrus skulls, tusks and bone fragments often wash ashore on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland. Hilmar J. Malmquist

A unique subpopulation of ancient walrus in Iceland was likely hunted to extinction by Vikings shortly after arrival to the region, according to new research.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Drivers make their way on the US 101 freeway on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

In its latest move to undermine action on the climate crisis, the Trump administration will formally rescind California's waiver to set stricter auto emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

Read More Show Less
Brazilians living in The Netherlands organized a demonstration in solidarity with rainforest protectors and against the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on Sept. 1 in The Hague, Netherlands. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Tara Smith

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.

Read More Show Less
Author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaking on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2018. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Natalie Hanman

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This illustration can convey a representation of "eco-anxiety" — "chronic fear of environmental doom." AD_Images / Pixabay

As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from 'eco-anxiety,' which the American Psychological Association described as a "chronic fear of environmental doom," as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
Electric cars recharge at public charging stations. Sven Loeffler / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ben Jervey

Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag sticks to a wire fence in a remote location in the Mourne Mountains, co Down, Northern Ireland. Dave G Kelly / Moment / Getty Images

Ireland is ready to say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks and grocery items wrapped in plastic as a way to drastically reduce the amount of waste in Irish landfills, according to the Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE.

Read More Show Less