Do mosquito control insecticides pose any threat to the environment?

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Do mosquito control insecticides pose any threat to the environment?

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John Humphrey

Upon first hearing about the application of misting for mosquito control system, the first question most people ask is, "Does it work?" The second question is inevitably, "Is it safe?" That is why before you get serious about whether or not to purchase a MistAway mosquito control system, it is important that you understand what the insecticide is, what it is not, and how to safely use it in your mosquito control system.

Pyrethrum is a botanical insecticide produced primarily in the flowers of Tanacetum cinerariafolium, a species of the chrysanthemum plant family. Pyrethrum is an ancient insecticide that has been used effectively to control insects for decades and is non-persistent, decomposing rapidly in the environment. This rapid degradation of pyrethrum has resulted in little known cases of insect resistance, making it an excellent choice for the control of agricultural pests.

The insecticidal properties of the flowers were documented in the early 1800’s but it is suspected that the flowers were used to kill insects a considerable time earlier. The first commercially available products were powders made from ground flowers and later crude oil extractions became popular.

Today the refining of crude pyrethrum extract to remove the plant material, waxes, etc. is a highly complex process resulting in a very high grade product. In East Africa the mature phrethrum flowers are picked by hand, sun dried to remove moisture and sent to a processing plant for extraction of the active ingredient-pyrethrins, a mixture of six closely related esters. The flowers are sun dried and processed to extract the insecticide grade pyrethrum.

Pyrethrum is non-toxic to humans and other mammals and is considered biodegradable as well as water soluble. It is sought for sensitive applications like the post-harvest treatment of fruits and vegetables. Pyrethrum is so safe that the U.S. Government approves its use on such insect-prone foods as tomatoes, even while they are on their way to the supermarket or processing plant. At Houston Mosquito Pros, our systems use pyrethrum.

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Insecticides are the most rigorously tested of all chemicals. They meet stringent standards before they are registered for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. When properly used by trained professionals, insecticides do their job and biodegrade quickly. • What methods other than the use of insecticides are there for controlling mosquitoes? One effective approach involves the use of mosquito fish, which can be stocked in mosquito breeding sites to feed upon the larvae. Studies have shown that many homeowner methods such as bug zappers, bird and bat houses, and citronella plants eliminate only a very small percentage of the mosquito population. In fact many beneficial insects suffer the effects of these devices as well. • What can I personally do to help control mosquito development? Look for possible breeding sites in your yard and community. Advise your local officials of potential problems. • Dispose of old tires, buckets, and any other containers that might hold water. • Don’

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