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Reader's view: Spraying for mosquitoes is dangerous and doesn’t help

We were sorry to see the July 5 article in the News Tribune about how business is booming for companies that spray yards for mosquitoes.

There’s not much point to spraying one yard for mosquitoes. Adult mosquitoes can travel for miles, so even if you kill the ones in your yard, new ones will fly in. Spraying adults has limited benefits even on a large scale. It is much more effective to target mosquitoes when they’re larvae.

University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist Jeffrey Hahn wrote in Yard and Garden Line News that, “Spraying adult mosquitoes is not very effective or practical. At best, it should be only considered for special events or emergency spray programs of disease-infected mosquitoes.”

The pesticides commonly used by commercial sprayers kill butterflies, dragonflies, honeybees and bumblebees. They also can be toxic to pets. The News Tribune article noted that pyrethrins, used by one of the companies mentioned, are derived from chrysanthemums. That makes pyrethrins sound “natural,” but in fact they are toxic to birds, fish and cats.

There are better ways to avoid mosquitoes: Leave your yard lights off, avoid being outside at dusk, wear repellent and don’t leave standing water in your yard. According to the EPA, even small amounts of water, such as the water in a saucer under a plant, can provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes if left for several days.

Of course none of these measures means that you can have a mosquito-free summer. It’s Minnesota. There are going to be mosquitoes. Spraying your yard won’t help much. It’s a waste of money and kills the very bugs that might otherwise eat the mosquitoes.

Catherine Winter


The writer is a member of the Lake Superior Beekeepers. This letter also was submitted by Lake Superior Beekeepers members Theresa Koenig, Mike Reuter, Ray Lopez, Jon Otis, Ellen Alvey, Holly Rosendahl, Michael J. Skoglund, Dick Laumeyer, Leisa Dudley, Harrison Dudley, Eric Moshier, Tari Rayala, Patricia Mayer, Denise Farwell, Charlie Danielson, Shannon Szymkowiak, Francois Medion and Linda Porter, all of Duluth; Stacy Holden and Miranda Pilon of South Range; Dave Wait of Superior; Susan Schaefer of Fredenberg Township; and Alex Mohrbacher of Esko.