Petition to your public officials to end mosquito spraying from Beyond Pesticides

See background write-up and sign the petition here. The Don’t Spray Me! board has approved signing on as an organization; please add your individual signature as well. The text of the petition is below. The URL at the very end downloads the pdf of “PUBLIC HEALTH MOSQUITO MANAGEMENT STRATEGY For Decision Makers and Communities,” a very thorough summary of issues related to mosquito control and spraying.

Mosquito spray programs, which target flying mosquitoes with highly toxic organophosphate or synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, are ineffective and endanger our health. These pesticides, which are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations, will float in the air longer than usual because of their small droplet size, but will eventually land on lawns, gardens, and anything that is outside. That droplet size also allows them to be carried deeper into the lungs. These pesticides can cause a wide range of health effects in humans, including exacerbating respiratory illness like Covid-19, and harm our environment.

Symptoms of organophosphate poisoning in humans include numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to birth defects, cancer, and brain effects. Symptoms of synthetic pyrethroid poisoning include dermatitis and asthma-like reactions, eye and skin irritation, and flu-like symptoms. Synthetic pyrethroids are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast and prostate cancer. People with asthma and pollen allergies should be especially cautious. Exposure has resulted in deaths from respiratory failure.

Naled, an organophosphate commonly used for mosquito control, affects a variety of non-target animals, including fish, insects, aquatic invertebrates, and honey bees. Naled is moderately acutely toxic to mammals, moderately to very highly toxic to freshwater fish and birds, highly toxic to honey bees, and very highly toxic to freshwater aquatic invertebrates, and estuarine fish and invertebrates. Elevated mortality rates among honey bees have been documented after nighttime aerial ULV applications of naled. Synthetic pyrethroids are highly toxic to fish and honey bees, even in low doses. Beneficial insects, including mosquito predators like dragonflies, will be killed by synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates.

In addition to the dangers, spraying to kill adult mosquitoes (adulticiding) is the least effective mosquito control method. Close to 99.9% of sprayed chemicals goes off into the environment where they can have detrimental effects on public health and ecosystems, leaving 0.10% to actually hit the target pest. In addition, efforts to control the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases are encountering a big, though predictable, problem—mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticides.

There are better ways to manage mosquito problems. Outbreaks of disease-carrying mosquitoes often result from habitat disturbance, such as deforestation, impairing wetlands, and spraying insecticides. Restoring the health of ecosystems helps keep mosquitoes under control. Native minnows, for example, can provide effective control of mosquito larvae breeding in standing water. Where water cannot be emptied from containers, the bacterial larvicide Bacillus thurigiensis israelensis is a least-toxic option. A better mosquito management plan protects public health and the environment. Please tell our local and state health departments to abandon spraying and adopt a mosquito management plan that does not depend on toxic chemicals: bp-dc.org/mosquito-mgmt.

Thank you for your consideration of my concerns.

Insects we don’t want

Of course, all species are part of nature and part of the food chain. But birds, bats and others who consume mosquitoes must have more than their fill by now, and spotted lanternflies have no predators here. What can we do to cut down on the excess?

This red-bottomed bird bath in West Chester has mosquito eggs (the grain-like spots among the debris) floating on the surface. In another day, the eggs will hatch into larvae which will grow to about 3/8 inch long; they come to the surface to breathe, but forage for food farther down and will wriggle about if you tap the bird bath. A few more days and they become pupae, which look like small stalks hanging from the surface. Another day or two and the adult mosquitoes will emerge, spread its wings and fly away.

What do we do about it? Tip the water out of the bird bath (and all other sources of stagnant water) every few days!

Spotted lanternflies are a recent invasive species; their point of diffusion in the US seems to have been our part of Pennsylvania in about 2012. They have an attractive and even exotic look with some of their developmental phases (instars) being black with white spots and others featuring red. They suck sap from the stems of trees, some agricultural crops, shrubs like roses, and even lace vines. They favor newer, more tender growth… right where they (and their sticky excretions that host a blackish mold and the leaking sap that attracts other insects) do the most harm.

What do we do about it? The most environmental solution is to apply a band of sticky tape around any tree they are trying to crawl up. Only the adult phase has wings, and even those hop more than they fly; but they are very agile and hard to catch or squash. However, they definitely do not like being sprayed with a solution of dish soap and water; if you have an old spray bottle, that sends them hopping away and, after several applications, seems to deter them from returning to the same site.

The photo, from East Bradford, shows an early morning’s catch; by evening, the tape was entirely covered. You can almost feel sorry for them as you hear the crackling noise, like Rice Krispies in milk, of hundreds of feet lifting off the sticky tape, to no avail since all of the other 5 feet remain stuck. But do they feel sorry for the damage they do?

(If you use tape, be sure to cover it with chicken wire, as shown, to prevent birds from getting stuck as well.)

You might even think they are sort of cute… until you notice their tarry excretions killing everything underneath where they are sucking the sap of, in this case, a birch tree. Free Roundup, anyone?

Larviciding with Bti

A larvicide (or larvacide) kills larvae.

In a rare too-good-to-be-true moment, the biological agent Bti prevents mosquito larvae from maturing. It’s made from bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, which affects no other forms of life except two other nuisance insects (black flies and midges). It is organic and totally non-toxic.

Larvae concentrationYou can use mosquito dunks in any standing water that you can’t dump out regularly: a small pond (such as the artificial one pictured here; these larvae leave shadows on the bottom) or stagnant stretch of stream in your yard, or a built-in plant soaking area that no longer drains, etc.

For a small surface area, just break up the dunks in pieces. In any case, reapply every month or so to be sure the Bti is still actively working.

Dunks usually come in packs of 6. If you buy more than one at a time at ACE hardware store in East Bradford (720 W Strasburg Rd., just west of West Chester borough, ask for the Don’t Spray Me! discount.

Just to remind you, we oppose the use of pesticide sprays and SPRAYS HAVE NO EFFECT ON LARVAE (or on eggs, or on pupae, the cocoon-like form that larvae go through before emerging as adults).

For detailed information on Bti, see “Best Natural Mosquito Control: Bti” at mosquitoreviews. Use Bti only on your own property or, with permission, on someone else’s property, but not on public property.

Mosquito dunks

CONTACT & DONATE

We need your help to fight unnecessary chemical toxins and promote healthy food and gardens!

To send a donation to support our activities, mail a check to Don’t Spray Me!, 513 W. Nields St., West Chester PA 19382. If you wish your donation to be tax-deductible, email here for information.

For comments and information overall or about West Chester Borough, email Margaret Hudgings.

Special feature: West Chester Co-op

The West Chester Co-op is working hard to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester.  The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.

They now have over 300 members in their campaign to launch full-scale operations! The Co-op already has regular special events and a table on Saturdays at the West Chester Growers Market.

Cooperatives are businesses formed not to earn profits for investors but to serve the needs of their members.  A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.

The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.

Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community.  The Co-op is building that equity base right now.

The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.

The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.

Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available). The Co-op is nearing its target to move into the next phase of development; your investment will help put them over the top.

You may email the Co-op here or join on-line.  Please support our friends and community: we’re all on the same team for healthy environment and food!

DIY Lemon Eucalyptus Bug Repellent

From Kimberton Whole Foods. If you try it, please leave a comment to let us know results!

It’s the time of year when we need to begin considering protecting ourselves from the elements, especially pestering insects. The Center for Disease Control has listed Lemon Eucalyptus has an effective active ingredient for long-lasting protection against mosquitoes. Essential oils are powerful bug deterrents when diluted and applied correctly. Here’s an easy recipe with safe, natural ingredients that you can make at home!

See the recipe at Kimberton Whole Foods . And remember, there is a big difference between repellents with and without toxic ingredients. this one is non-toxic; mosquitoes just don’t like its smell.

Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and Application

Public and commercial spray operators are required to give advance notice of spraying to registered individuals, who can then take defensive measures like closing windows and turning off outdoor air feeds, or else try to leave town at the time of the spraying.

To be precise, “pesticide businesses are required to make notifications to you 12 to 72 hours in advance of any pesticide application to an attached structure or an outdoor above ground application that they may make within 500 feet of any location that you have listed in the Registry.”

Unfortunately, we have learned that certain unscrupulous or unqualified spray companies have failed to give the required notification or even sprayed the wrong property. If anything like this happens to you, please contact us so that we can try to help.

In addition, the Chester County Health Department has, at times, granted registered hypersensitive individuals an exclusion zone around their residence to spare them from chemical exposure. However, that exclusion zone may not be large enough to have an effect.

If you feel you qualify, to register you can download the form here: Pesticide Hypersensitivity Application Form(2020). Then print and fill it out, request a physician’s signed approval, and submit it. It is really up to the physician; the state and county have no input. All of us are potentially affected by toxic chemicals, some of us more than others. If you have any doubts, please talk to your doctor.

Further background info at Penn State Extension includes:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) maintains a registry of individuals hypersensitive to pesticides. It is a listing of locations for people who have been verified by a physician to be excessively or abnormally sensitive to pesticides. These hypersensitive individuals may request to have listings of their home, place of employment, school (if a student), and vacation home placed in the Registry. A person will not be considered included in the Registry unless their name appears in the current published Registry.”

Note that you can register not just your home address but up to 4 locations that you yourself may frequent, such as work place, school, or second home.

If you have children in school, be aware that a separate state law grants a higher degree of notification to public schools than to private or religious schools or day cares. The PA School Code requires notification of families and employees of public schools (but not all schools) before spraying occurs. For more on that lack of equity, see here.

The Corporate Food System Is Making the Coronavirus Crisis Worse

by Walden Bello, FoodFirst, 04.30.2020

A profound article that rewards careful reading. Food First, founded long ago by “Diet for a Small Planet” author Frances Moore Lappé, is an inspiration for activists seeking not just to avoid toxic chemicals and grow healthy food, but also to escape and reform the whole destructive agribusiness cycle.

The author says: “Probably the most important measure that we propose is to move food production away from the fragile, corporate-controlled globalized food supply chain based on narrow considerations such as the reduction of unit cost to more sustainable smallholder-based localized systems.”

Let’s all be part of it, at home, in our food growing and purchasing, and by joining FoodFirst!

This article was originally published at Foreign Policy in Focus by Food First Fellow, Walden Bello.

The global food system has been very much front and center in the COVID-19 story.

Everyone, of course, is aware that hunger is closely tracking the virus as its wreaks havoc in both the global North and global South. Indeed, one can say that, unlike in East Asia, Europe, and the U.S., in South Asia, the food calamity preceded the actual invasion by the virus, with relatively few infections registered in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as of late March of 2020 — but with millions already displaced by the lockdowns and other draconian measures taken by the region’s governments.

In India, for instance, internal migrants lost their jobs in just a few hours’ notice, leaving them with little money for food and rent and forcing them to trek hundreds of kilometers home, with scores beaten up by police seeking to quarantine them as they crossed state lines. Estimated at as many as 139 million, these internal migrants, largely invisible in normal times, suddenly became visible as they tried to reach their home states, deprived of public transportation owing to the sudden national lockdown.

With people dying along the way, a constant refrain in this vast human wave was the desperate cry: “If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, hunger will!”

But the food question has been a key dimension of the pandemic in two other ways. One is the connection of the virus with the destabilization of wildlife. The other is the way the measures to contain the spread of the virus have underlined the extreme vulnerability of the global food supply chain….

Read more at FoodFirst