Summer may bring with it some much-needed sun and relaxation, but the heat and humidity also draws out those horrendous warm-weather pests: mosquitoes! It may be tempting to march into the nearest store and stock up on all the bug killers you can get your hands on, but there is a lot to consider when it comes to spraying those chemicals and pesticides from one side of your yard to the other. Before you launch your attack against those nasty gnats, check out the information below to learn what’s safe and what’s not during the next couple months!
What sucks them in? When it comes to settling down and starting a family of bloodthirsty little ones, mosquitoes are drawn to one environment in particular: standing water. They lay their eggs right on the surface, so even a quarter-inch puddle can wreak havoc on your otherwise perfect summer evening! Any accumulation of water, such as a clogged rain gutter, an overflowing planter, or even those darned plastic toy buckets left out in the rain can become the perfect breeding ground for these nasty little buggers. Unfortunately, running around with a dishtowel to pat everything dry just isn’t realistic. Short of keeping your gutters clean and tidying up your yard, there’s not much you can do about the moisture!
>> Read more: 9 Chores for Your Little Helpers
The problem with chemical warfare: You may be ready to call in the heavy artillery, but there are inherent risks when it comes to using chemicals to treat your pest problems. Research has shown that fogging large portions of your yard with insecticides may lead to a variety of health concerns, such as:
- Cancer and tumors: A report released by the American Cancer Society revealed that children who are exposed to pesticides are three to seven times more likely to develop conditions like non-Hodgkin lymphoma or leukemia than children who are not exposed.
- Infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects: Certain studies have shown that pesticides and chemicals have also been linked to difficulties with pregnancy, such as subfecundity, infertility or pregnancy loss, growth retardation, intrauterine fetal demise, birth defects and ovarian failure.
- ADHD: Some experts agree that specific chemicals used in pesticides can affect the central nervous system and impair the neurotransmitters in the frontal lobe of the brain (in effect, attacking the brains of those nagging insects). Unfortunately, with too much exposure, those same chemicals that are killing off those bugs could also be affecting your children’s neurotransmitters as well! To learn more about ADHD, click here!
In addition to the effects pesticides and chemicals can have on you and your family’s health, these toxic sprays can also be damaging to the environment. They have been known to negatively impact:
- The honeybee population: Sure, it might be nice to avoid those occasional bee stings, but honeybees are absolutely essential to our ecosystem! According to the Pesticide Action Network, a whopping third of the food we consume on a regular basis relies on bees for pollination (and that’s including chocolate, ladies!). Exposure to pesticides has caused a phenomenon called the “Colony Collapse Disorder,” which could very well result in the total elimination of these crucial little workers.
- The amphibian dilemma: Runoff from chemicals has also been known to contaminate lake and pond water, and has actually mutated the frog population. Nearly 10 percent of male tadpoles affected by certain chemicals are genetically turned into females!
- Fish and bird population: Chemical and pesticide runoff also greatly affects the fish population, which often serves as sustenance for birds such as ibises, storks and egrets. Salmon, too, are becoming threatened by the large quantity of chemicals finding their way into the water.
>> Got an itch? Check out our Guide to Recognizing and Treating Insect Bites at Home here.
An eco-friendly solution: Luckily, awareness of the environment has risen exponentially in recent years, and this recognition has led to the production and distribution of hundreds of different products and techniques that can help you manage your pest problem in a safe way! Take a look at the list below from Pest Control Options for some of our favorite suggestions!
- Garlic spray
- Hot pepper wax
- Insecticidal soap
The benefits of these and other environmentally-friendly natural pesticides is that they do not harm insects that actually contribute to our environment (think of those darling honeybees!), they do not affect other wildlife, and they are also useful against other predatory and damaging insects like mites or larvae. For more information on how to mosquito-proof your yard and the dangers of pesticides, check out our sources: Pest Control Options, Pesticide Action Network, Sustainable Baby Steps, Texas A&M: AgriLife Extension, Fox News.