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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Mosquitoes' Category


01
May

Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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07
Feb

Ruling Affirmed in Colorado Pesticide Trespass Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2017) After years of legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals last week affirmed a ruling that Colorado rancher, James Hopper, must serve two days in jail and pay a $7,500 fine for spraying pesticides that drifted unto his neighbor’s farm in violation of a 2012 court order protecting his neighbors. In 2012, organic farmers Rosemary Bilchak and her husband Gordon MacAlpine, were granted a permanent injunction prohibiting pesticide applications within 150 feet of the property line in order to reduce pesticide drift. Last week’s decision bolsters a legal precedent that wafting pesticides can constitute a trespass against which adjacent landowners and people with health sensitivities are protected. The legal battle began in 2011 when Mr. Hopper obtained his Colorado pesticide applicator’s license and applied the adulticide Fyfanon, which contains the organophosphate insecticide malathion, to kill mosquitoes on his property. However, the pesticide drifted onto Ms. Bilchak and Mr. MacAlpine’s organic vegetable farm. In 2012, a District Court Judge ruled that they have a right not to have their property invaded by other people or things, and prohibited Mr. Hopper from fogging for mosquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, […]

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01
Feb

North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property.  The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority. With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near […]

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01
Sep

Over Two Million Bees Killed after Aerial Mosquito Spraying in South Carolina

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2016) Last Sunday, beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina emerged from their homes to find their yards and  farms, once full of busy buzzing, littered with the honey bees. The cause was no mystery — a massive bee-kill had occurred due to aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic  insecticide used primarily to control adult mosquitoes. The county announced plans to spray two days before the incident, when four travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in the area by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The spraying occurred between 6:30 and 8:30am. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide with the highest acute toxicity of any mosquitocide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled can cause cholinesterase (an enzyme necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses) inhibition in humans, meaning that it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Naled is highly toxic to honey bees. In Dorchester County, beekeepers say that the spray announcements did not come soon enough. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply lost more than 2.3 million insects from 46 hives, according to co-owner Juanita […]

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01
Sep

Maryland Begins Spraying for Zika before Finding Infected Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2016) With the apparent mosquito transmission of the  Zika virus in Florida, local officials around the United States have been feeling pressure to step-up preemptive mosquito spraying, prior to the virus actually emerging  locally in infected mosquitoes. The Zika virus has been contributing to public anxiety in the U.S. for several months and, because of this, the state of Maryland has started spraying with hazardous insecticides. The state has made targeting mosquitoes its  number one priority, while many argue that the state’s spraying  puts the well-being of residents at risks. As of August 24, there are 77 travel-associated cases of Zika in the state of Maryland. Without a finding of infected mosquitoes in the state, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Mosquito Control Program is focusing its  control actions on female (the ones that bite) aedes albopictus, commonly known as Asian tiger mosquitoes, the most common type of mosquito in Maryland that studies indicate “has the potential” to transmit the Zika virus. MDA’s Mosquito Control Program implements the state’s mosquito management, which is conducted in accordance with an undefined  Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  program; basing the  approach broadly on prevention, monitoring, and control of mosquitoes. As […]

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25
Aug

Miami-Dade Stops Aerial Spraying on Weekdays to Reduce Exposure to Students

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2016) The County of Miami-Dade announced Tuesday that it will no longer conduct aerial sprayings on weekdays, to avoid exposing children and teachers. In an effort to control the spread of Zika, the county is consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), to spray a neighborhood in the county, Wynwood, with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and Naled. Mosquito officials were conducting the spraying during the early hours of the morning, when fewer people were around, the first day of the school year in Miami-Dade started this week, putting teachers and students at risk of exposure at bus stops. The county’s move is encouraging, because as research has continuously shown, children and pesticides don’t mix.  Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. Childhood pesticide exposure has been linked to a range of adverse health endpoints, including cancer, asthma, impaired sexual development, ADHD and other learning disabilities. “We have adjusted our spraying schedule to avoid any inconvenience to our local school system, and the children, families, and teachers in our community,” the office of Mayor […]

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05
Aug

Fighting Zika – Growing Concerns over Pesticide Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2016) Concerned health officials in Miami, Florida are investigating suspicions that Zika-spreading mosquitoes have become resistant to the pesticides commonly used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used in mosquito control. As the region works to contain a Zika outbreak in northern Miami, officials are beginning to recognize that broadcast pesticide applications are not effective at controlling populations, and are looking into cases in the U.S.  and in other parts of the world of mosquitoes developing resistance to chemical controls, or whether other factors are at work. At the same, the broadcasting of the pesticides by truck and plane and the resulting exposure to people and the environment also raise serious health issues. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water, is the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although there are reports that the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Zika virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. However, locally […]

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27
Jul

Colombia Cautiously Declares End to Mosquito-Borne Zika Epidemic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2016) In South America, Colombia has officially declared an end to its Zika epidemic. The country, which previously had the highest cases of suspected Zika virus infection after Brazil, with a total of more than 99,721 people infected since September 2015 have registered a drop in the number of infections to 600 new cases a week, down significantly from a peak of more than 6,000 cases a week in February, according to health officials. Fernando Ruíz, M.D., Deputy Minister of Health and Service Provision in Colombia, said the numbers signaled that the epidemic had given way to an endemic phase of the disease, in which it continues to be present but spreads much more slowly. This news arrives following the publication of Zika Virus Disease in Colombia —Preliminary Report, which suggests that infe ctions late in pregnancy may pose less risk to the fetus than widely feared. The report follows thousands of women in Colombia who have had symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during pregnancy to try to better understand the risk the virus poses. At the time of the report, the country had only seven official cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by […]

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11
Jul

CDC, EPA Urge Aerial Mosquito Spraying in Puerto Rico Amid Protest

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2016) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Wednesday, July 6 that Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, and recommends aerial spraying of the toxic pesticide Naled for mosquito control, much to the dismay of many area farmers, activists and concerned citizens who feel that the decision was made without consultation or information provided to the local population. Aerial spraying of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many experts believe that these methods fail to sufficiently manage mosquito populations, increase pesticide resistance, and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Many experts  agree that combating mosquito-borne diseases should include good surveillance and scientific understanding for controlling mosquito populations, including a focus on  eliminating or managing  breeding areas,  utilizing  biological controls, exclusion from indoor environments with screening, and repellents. An efficient mosquito management strategy emphasizes public awareness, prevention, and monitoring methods. However, if these methods are not used properly or in time, communities must determine if they should risk exposing vulnerable populations to potentially harmful diseases caused by mosquitoes or to chronic or deadly illnesses caused by […]

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27
May

FDA Deliberating Release of GE Mosquitoes in Florida Keys

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) Oxitec, a self-described pioneer in using advanced genetics to control target  insects, has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency approval of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Oxitec has proposed a trial to determine the efficacy of their self-limiting mosquitoes for the control of Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito known to transmit the Zika virus, in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida. However, some in the environmental community are concerned about the possible non-target effects of releasing these genetically modified mosquitoes into nature and urge additional research in the lab. The plan for a release of these GE mosquitoes has been in the works for a while. In February 2015, it was reported that the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) was working alongside Oxitec to release these GE mosquitoes, but, at the time, the plan had not yet been finalized. A change.org petition against the release garnered over 146,000 signatures and continues to grow, with numbers around 168,000 to this date. In February 2016, Oxitec submitted a draft environmental assessment to FDA, and a month later, FDA published a preliminary finding of no […]

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19
May

Congress Cites Zika Virus in Effort to Attack Water Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2016) Using fear without facts, Congress is yet again attempting to gut Clean Water Act (CWA) provisions that protect waterways and communities from excessive pesticide pollution. In a move that was blasted by House Democrats this week, HR 897  (which was introduced as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015) was renamed the  Zika Vector Control Act, despite the fact that the bill does not actually do anything to address the threat of Zika. The legislation was defeated Tuesday on a suspension vote, 262-159, however the bill will be going to the Rules Committee on Monday, with anticipated House floor activity on Tuesday, May 24. (Take action: urge your representative to oppose HR 897.) “In a brazenly political act, the Republican leadership is trying to mask gutting the Clean Water Act as having something to do with fighting Zika,” Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said in a statement to The Hill. “This bill has nothing to do with Zika and everything to do with Republicans’ relentless special interest attacks on the Clean Water Act,” he said. “It will do nothing to stem the growing threat of the Zika virus.” The bill […]

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03
Feb

With Zika Virus, Widespread Pesticide Spraying Not the Long-Term Solution, says Entomologist

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2016) Speaking to The Guardian, a leading Kenyan entomologist warns that spraying pesticides will fail to deal with the Zika virus. Just recently the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency over growing concerns that the virus is linked with microcephaly. Aerial and ground applications of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many believe that these methods fail to sufficiently control mosquito populations, promote resistance and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist in an interview with The Guardian said that while pesticides can reduce the population of  flying adult mosquitoes that transmit the virus, they will fail to deal with the epidemic that threatens to become a global pandemic, and warns that spraying landscapes is extremely dangerous.  “It is a quick fix but you pay for it. You kill other species that would have predated on the mosquitoes. You also create a mosaic of sprayed and unsprayed low densities of chemicals that fosters the rapid evolution of resistance.” Mosquitoes have very short life cycle (a week or less), increasing the probability that each succeeding generation is […]

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19
Aug

Mosquito Fogging Kills Hundreds of Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2015) Local fogging for  mosquito control turned tragic for a Palo Alto, California beekeeper who lost hundreds of honey bees from his backyard hives. The beekeeper, who also produces organic honey, now fears his honey is contaminated. The fogging, which occurred last month, was in response to positive tests for West Nile virus in mosquito samples. Many mosquito control pesticides are toxic to honey bees and given the declining populations of pollinators, vector control officials are being asked to carefully consider the risks associated with pesticide spraying. According to the local NBC affiliate, beekeeper Rondolph Tsien believes he was not given sufficient time to protect his bees from the mosquito fogging and, despite trying to cover his hives with a tarp to protect his bees from drifting pesticides, many were lost. A mosquito sample tested positive for West Nile virus about one mile from Mr. Tsien’s home, putting his property in the catchment area for fogging. Mr. Tsien worries the surviving bees will produce contaminated honey that can no longer be labeled organic. A Santa Clara County Vector Control representative stated during an interview that the county uses  an “extremely low dose” of pesticides during fogging […]

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20
Apr

Canada Fights Toxic Mosquito Spraying Near Homes and Parks

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2015) New details emerged last week after a Canadian volunteer group, Pesticide Free Alberta (PFA), received records from the City of Edmonton regarding ground and aerial application of Dursban 2.5, a restricted insecticide (in both Canada and the US), in close proximity to residential areas to kill off mosquito larvae. The coordinator of PFA, Sheryl McCumsey, fought for months for the data to be released. Health Canada does not recommend using Dursban in areas where children will be exposed, such as homes, parks, school grounds or playing fields, but the City of Edmonton justifies the use of the product by its label language, citing that it can be used in industrial areas. These areas often end up bordering residential neighborhoods and natural lands, such as parks. The active ingredient in Dursban is chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide that has been linked to many detrimental health and environmental effects, such as endocrine disruption, reproductive and birth effects, toxicity to birds, bees and aquatic wildlife.In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Dow AgroSciences restricted the sale and use of most home, lawn and garden product due to its health risks for children. However, it is still used […]

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03
Feb

Florida Officials, FDA, Consider Release of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2015) Officials in the Florida Keys are seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release a wave of mosquitoes that have been genetically engineered to produce offspring whose larvae are unable to survive. The plan to introduce these mosquitoes has been met with intense skepticism by local residents. A change.org petition against the release has garnered over 146,000 signatures to date. Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) officials have been planning the release alongside British biotechnology company Oxitec, which has already conducted similar experiments with the genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes in Brazil and the Cayman Islands. Websites for Oxitec and the FKMCD assert that the GE aedes aegypti mosquitoes will significantly lower the numbers of the disease spreading insects, and reduce the need to spray insecticides. Opponents counter that the introduction of the modified mosquitoes is unacceptably risky, as there has been little research on possible non-target effects of the novel insect, and current control methods and public education have been successful at controlling exotic diseases. Opportunity for public comment to FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is likely to occur in the near future. Behind the Technology […]

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28
Jul

New Research Links Pesticide Exposure to Adverse Effects Three Generations Later

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2014) New research from Michael Skinner, Ph.D.’s laboratory out of Washington State University finds that —yet again”” exposure to pesticides may have devastating consequences for future generations. The study, “Pesticide Methoxychlor Promotes the Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Adult-Onset Disease through the Female Germline,” published in PLOS ONE, finds that gestating rats exposed to the pesticide methoxychlor develop a higher incidence of kidney disease, ovary disease and obesity in offspring spanning three generations. The incidence of multiple diseases increased in the third generation or “great-grandchildren.” This study suggests that ancestral exposures to methoxychlor over the past 50 years in North America may play a part in today’s increasing rates of obesity and disease. The epigenetic changes observed were specific to methoxychlor exposure and, according to researchers, may prove to be valuable biomarkers for future research on transgenerational disease. For people exposed to the pesticide, Dr. Skinner says his findings have implications such as reduced fertility, increased adult onset disease and the potential to pass on those conditions to subsequent generations. “What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass […]

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28
Oct

Multi-generational Effects of DDT Linked to Obesity

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2013) Scientists at Washington State University (WSU), in a laboratory study,  determined that exposure to the insecticide DDT ””banned in the U.S. since 1972, but still used today in developing countries for malaria abatement programs””impacts multiple generations, ultimately contributing to obesity three generations down the line. The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, provides the scientific community with new information on multi-generational impacts of pesticide exposure. Lead researcher Michael Skinner, PhD., professor of biological sciences at WSU, and colleagues exposed pregnant rats to DDT to determine the long-term impacts to health across generations. The study, Ancestral dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesity, finds that the first generation of rats’ offspring developed severe health problems, ranging from kidney disease, prostate disease, and ovary disease, to tumor development. Interestingly, by the third generation more than half of the rats have increased levels of weight gain and fat storage. In other words, the great grandchildren of the exposed rats are much more likely to be obese. “Therefore, your ancestors’ environmental exposures may influence your disease development even though you have never had a direct exposure,” the study finds. Previous studies have demonstrated that exposure to […]

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21
Aug

Bill Introduced to Restrict the Pesticide Methoprene in Estuaries in New York County

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2013) Suffolk County, New York, Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) introduced a bill on July 30, 2013 to establish strict guidelines for the use of methoprene within estuaries in Suffolk County.   Methoprene, an insect growth regulator, is commonly used in mosquito control programs, but is highly toxic to estuarine invertebrates, including crabs and lobsters, which are the backbone of the fishing industry along the East coast. This bill follows similar legislation already passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island to help protect lobster populations. The lobster population in the Long Island Sound has decreased dramatically over the last decade, corresponding with the introduction of pesticides such as methoprene in mosquito control programs. Methoprene  is an insect growth regulator that prevents development to the adult reproductive stages so that insects die in arrested immaturity. It is an insecticide that is acutely toxic to estuarine invertebrates, including valuable food and commercial species like crabs and lobsters.  The effect of mosquito pesticides on marine life, especially lobsters, has come under scrutiny in recent years as mosquito spray programs in various states escalated efforts to suppress West Nile virus (WNv). Other mosquito-killing chemicals suspected of causing damage to aquatic life include […]

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27
Jun

Connecticut Passes Law to Curb Pesticide Use to Save Lobsters

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2013) After years of lobster decline, a new law in Connecticut seeks to protect and revive the crustacean population by banning the use of toxic mosquito pesticides in coastal areas. With the support of Connecticut’s remaining lobsterman, Governor Dannel Malloy last Friday signed into law  House Bill 6441,  which bans two chemicals, methoprene and resmethrin. Declines in the   sound’s lobster population have been alarmingly common for the past 15 years, devastating fishermen and the local economy that depends on them. The pesticides have long been suspected in killing off the lobsters; however last summer, it was officially linked when those chemicals were detected in lobster tissue last summer. Connecticut legislators say that they were convinced that banning the two mosquito pesticides after learning that Rhode Island and Massachusetts had enacted similar bans with successful results. “The fisheries of Long Island Sound have been devastated by this lobster die-off, which has been terrible for our local economy and all the families that relied on this industry,” State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk, Darien) said in a statement. “We should be doing everything we can to reverse the trend and bring the lobster population back to a healthy […]

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21
May

As Mosquito Season Approaches, Take Preventive Action Without Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2013) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently concluded that 2012 was the deadliest year for West Nile Virus (WNv) in the United States. “A total of 5,674 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 286 deaths, were reported to CDC from 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii),” said the CDC in a statement. While it is still too early to determine whether this year will be as bad as last year’s outbreak (experts say the largest disease outbreaks  is strongly driven by weather patterns characterized by hot wet summers), one thing is certain: There are simple mosquito control techniques that can be performed in your community and backyard that will prevent the spread of WNv and nuisance biting mosquitoes without the use of highly toxic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides fielded calls from concerned residents across the U.S. whose communities were doused with pesticides in attempts to control WNv. Yet, these controls have been shown to be ineffective at managing mosquito populations. According to David Pimentel, PhD, professor emeritus of entomology at Cornell University, less than .0001% of adulticides (mosquito insecticides) reach target adult mosquitoes. Dr. Pimentel notes, “Thus by both ground and aerial application […]

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26
Feb

Mosquitoes Show Resistance to Highly Toxic DEET Repellent

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2013) The world’s most commonly used synthetic insect repellent is not  as effective as it once was, according to scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. While researchers found DEET to be an effective repellent after an initial application, subsequent rounds of testing mere hours later showed mosquitoes to be unaffected by its presence. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, underlines the need to develop safe, natural, effective alternative preventions to this hazardous chemical. To perform their experiment, researchers took the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, a carrier for dengue and yellow fever, and exposed it to a human arm covered in DEET. A few hours later they repeated the experiment, but this time the mosquitoes largely ignored the presence of the chemical. To find out what caused this to occur, researchers placed electrodes on the antennas of the insects. “We were able to record the response of the receptors on the antenna to DEET, and what we found was the mosquitoes were no longer as sensitive to the chemical, so they weren’t picking it up as well,”   co-author James Logan, PhD told the BBC.  “There is something about being exposed […]

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04
Feb

Fed Legislation Would Weaken Pesticide Rules to Protect Water

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2013) U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) re-introduced legislation that would reduce the review requirements for pesticides applied directly to water. Similar legislation was passed in the House of Representatives in March 2011. The previous Senate version of the bill, called the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, passed through the Senate Agriculture Committee but never reached the Senate floor because of a hold placed on the legislation by Senators Barbra Boxer (D-CA) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD). This re-introduced legislation would reduce pesticide testing by ensuring that Clean Water Act (CWA) permits are not required for the application of pesticides. In 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of the National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA that pesticides discharged into water are pollutants and required to be permitted under the CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This ruling overturned Bush administration policy that exempted pesticides from regulation under the CWA and applied the less protective standards of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). CWA uses a health-based standard known as maximum contamination levels (MCLs) to protect waterways and requires permits when chemicals are directly […]

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06
Nov

Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Take Flight in Brazil

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2012) In efforts to stamp out the deadly disease Dengue fever, officials in Brazil are in the process of releasing millions of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes into the environment. However, some in the environmental community are concerned about the possible non-target effects of this experiment, and urge additional research in the lab before releasing the insects into the natural world. According to the Los Angeles Times, the experiment is taking place in the small town of Itaberaba, in Brazil’s Bahia state. The company overseeing the release, London-based Oxitec, also developed the GE insects. GE mosquitoes are raised in the laboratory, where the eggs of female mosquitoes are injected with a gene that produces sterile male mosquitoes. The modified male mosquitoes are then released into the environment en masse where they crowd out native males and mate with available females. The offspring from these mosquitoes are supposed to die before they hatch. In the town of Itaberaba, 84% of mosquito larvae now carry the modified gene, and the state government has approved an expansion of the program into five additional neighborhoods. GE mosquitoes have previously been released into uninhabited areas of India and Malaysia, and future plans […]

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