Back in the 50s, a boy in my mom’s childhood neighborhood loved the smell of the insecticide being sprayed from the mosquito-control trucks. He would run after the trucks as they cruised the streets. Some in Dallas, Texas, are not nearly as happy to have insecticide sprayed in their city as that boy was.
Last night, Dallas officials began to aerially spray the city with the insecticide Duet in an attempt to control the outbreak of West Nile virus that has left 14 dead and 230 ill in the city. Rain hampered the effort last night and only approximately half of the intended 106,000 acres were sprayed, reported the Guardian.
Dallas hadn’t sprayed since 1966, and some are concerned about the health and environmental risks posed by Duet. Duet uses a combination of chemicals to kill insects, as opposed to repelling them as DEET products do, and one concern is that honeybees, ladybugs and other beneficial insects may die as collateral damage. The group Dallas, Stop The Spray! has collected more than 1,800 signatures in an effort to put pressure on the city to stop spraying, reported the Guardian.
Duet breaks down quickly into carbon dioxide and water when exposed to sunlight according to its vendor, Clarke. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Duet warns that the product can cause skin and eye irritation and is harmful if swallowed. When the planes are flying overhead fogging the city residents need to be aware that the MSDS warns that excessive inhalation can cause nasal and respiratory irritation.
Two of the chemicals in Duet, prallethrin and phenothrin, are pyrethroids, synthetic insecticides modeled after natural pesticides derived from chrysanthemums. Another ingredient, piperonyl, is based on an extract of sassafras.
To avoid mosquitos without using chemicals, the EPA recommends:
1. Remove their habitat (where they live and breed)
2. Prevent your exposure to mosquitoes
IMAGE: Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus) has landed on a human finger. (CDC, Jim Gathany, Wikimedia Commons)