Approximately 75 percent of the crops that humans rely on for food require pollination by bees, other insects or birds, according to researchers at Penn State University, and up to 95 percent of the flowers and trees found in nature also rely on pollinators. In recent years, the declining population of bees in the United States has worried scientists practicing a wide range of disciplines. One area that has received a great deal of attention is pesticides used for mosquito control. Research conducted by Louisiana State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other professionals has shown that the insecticides commonly used for mosquito control have little or no effect on pollinators.
One such study was conducted by researchers at Louisiana State University. The three-part study included field, semi-field and laboratory testing. Funding was provided by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2013. Researchers from the mosquito abatement program for East Baton Rouge Parish participated in the study as well as scientists from the honey bee research lab of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The study began with lab tests to determine the amount of each insecticide needed to prove fatal to a bee. Once the toxicity levels were found, experiments moved to the semi-field component. Cages containing mosquitoes and bees were erected on poles spaced as little as 50 feet apart and as much as 300 feet apart, representing the typical drift of insecticides from spray trucks. Trucks sprayed six different insecticides that are commonly used for mosquito abatement at the highest rate ever used for truck-based applications. Even in the cages closest to the spray, no bees were killed. One entomologist explained that mosquitoes are “100 times more susceptible” than bees to the pesticides used for mosquito control. In addition, the pesticides, which are used in very small doses, lose their toxicity within a few hours.
The third phase of the study involved testing in the field. Area beekeepers volunteered to participate in the project. Half maintained hives in locations in which mosquito control was performed on a frequent basis, while the remainder had hives in locations without mosquito control. There was no difference in the mortality rates between the groups, and researchers who analyzed enzymes that indicate stress found no difference between the groups.
Mosquito control does not involve the indiscriminate spraying of chemicals. Professionals tailor their efforts in a very targeted manner to ensure that mosquito abatement does not harm the environment, including pollinators. Furthermore, most spray applications to control mosquitoes are performed at night. Mosquitoes are most active at night, but bees normally leave their hives only during daylight hours.
Mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases to humans, including the Zika and West Nile viruses, malaria and Chikungunya. Although yellow fever and St. Louis encephalitis cases have been rare in the United States, these diseases killed thousands of Americans between the 17th century and the early part of the 20th century, and there are recently reported cases of St. Louis encephalitis in several western states. Mosquitoes are also known to pose a health risk to animals, transmitting the heartworm parasite to dogs and infecting horses with equine encephalitis.
Given the risks that mosquitoes pose to the health of humans and pets as well as the annoyance caused by these pests, mosquito abatement makes sense. If you want to reclaim your backyard from pesky and potentially dangerous pests, contact MosquitoNix Houston. People throughout the greater Houston area know that they can trust us with all of their pest control needs.