Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Airborne Mosquito Spraying

Was your house buzzed by a low flying aircraft last night?    That was most likely part of the City of Chesapeake's emergency mosquito spraying program.   Weather permitting, the entire city is being sprayed Monday and Tuesday nights to combat the increase in mosquitoes following Hurricane Irene.
The airborne spraying is conducted at night between 8 pm and 2 am and covers almost the entire city.    According to the city website, the insecticide ' not pose a risk to humans or pets, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control. However, people who suffer from chemical sensitivities or feel spraying may aggravate preexisting health conditions should remain indoors during application to avoid exposure.'

This emergency spraying is not without controversy.   While the insecticide in the concentrations used is not likely to be directly harmful to humans, mammals, or birds, it does kill other insects beyond just mosquitos.    Other beneficial insects such as dragonflies, butterflies, and bees can all be killed by the misting.
The spraying is done at night to try to minimize the impact to these other insects but even the city website warns that beekeepers may 'wish to take the extra precaution of covering their hives for protection'.    Ultimately, the aerial spraying has limited effectiveness.   While mosquitos that come in contact with the insecticide will die quickly, the aerial spraying does little to control the next generation of larvae waiting to grow into adults and the mosquito population rebounds fairly quickly.   Residents can help control mosquito population by eliminating standing pools of water where mosquitoes breed.

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