President's Message - Diane Graves-Smith
June 2003

To my fellow Master Naturalists -

This month I want to rant about a REALLY scary product I heard about this spring. It seems that some enterprising person/company has come up with the "perfect" solution to the mosquito/West-Nile virus scare - Misters in your back yard that automatically spray chemicals to kill the mosquitoes!!!!

I thought I had not heard correctly when the ad came on KRLD. It was actually pitched as a way to protect you and your family from West Nile virus. I was outraged, but forgot about it.

Then, came a letter to Howard Garrett about a "neighbor's insect control system that discharges a fog or mist three times a day". Can you believe it? The writer went on to say the chemical is pyrethrin and it looks like a gas. Howard's reply states: "Natural pyrethrin is an organic pesticide, but it's quite toxic and hard on people with allergies. It is very toxic when sprayed on a continuing basis. If the mix contains PBO (piperonyl butoxide), it is even more toxic and dangerous. Besides the toxicity aspect to humans and pets, this type of mist spraying will kill all beneficial insects in the garden."

So there you have it. A deliberate attempt to create a sterile environment. Let's see, no insects means poor soil, no decomposition, no insect eating lizards or birds, no pollination of flowers and therefore no fruit or seeds, no worms. Would this also kill (given the high concentration from three applications per day) all the birds and squirrels? What effect would it have on cats and dogs? Would you let your children in the yard? Where does this end?

I don't know about you, but this makes my blood boil. We need to use every opportunity to kill this beast before it takes over. I agree with Howard's closing statement: "I would give the neighbor a very short time to shut it down."

Diane Graves Smith

Cross Timbers Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist, Inc.   9601 Fossil Ridge Rd.   Fort Worth TX 76135

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