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Protestors Temporarily Stop Spraying in Canada
(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2004) Mosquito spraying in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada was temporarily halted when thirty protestors prevented spray trucks from leaving the city truck depot last Saturday night. The City resumed its spray program on Tuesday morning despite protests.

The trucks were scheduled to spray malathion in five of the city’s neighborhoods, according to CBC Manitoba. As a result of the protest, fogging was stopped until further notice with officials saying "they wanted to discuss the program and the health of Winnipeg's residents and workers," according to CNews Canada.

No public debate has been held, yet spraying continued early Tuesday morning amid more protests. Police arrested one protestor and removed two others during Tuesday's demonstration. According to the Winnipeg Sun, "the pesticide will be sprayed every evening until further notice - despite the protests that demonstrators are vowing to continue." Repeated use of insecticides usually facilitated through scheduled spraying of this sort without proper monitoring of mosquito populations is known to result in mosquito resistance to insecticides. (See Daily News.)

Protestors cite the health effects of malathion, the lack of efficacy of adulticides, and insufficient numbers of trapped mosquitoes, as reasons for their opposition to the spraying. They prefer the $120,000 spent per round of fogging to be invested in mosquito larval control and other more effective forms of mosquito management.

“The city fogs largely for psychological reasons. There's very little benefit to it, but it makes people feel good,” according to columnist Tom Brodbeck. Opposition has also come from experts like Glyn Williams, a pest control manager from Edmonton who says that Winnipeg is Canada's last major city to still spray malathion for mosquitoes.

Mayor Sam Katz has said the majority of Winnipeg residents want the spraying to continue. One woman, LeeAnn Beley, stated, "I was so looking forward to it. The last time they fogged there was an instant improvement in our backyard. It's fully treed, it's a wonderful backyard that we could not enjoy because we couldn't stand outside for more than 30 seconds."

While spraying pesticides may seem like an easy solution to mosquito problems, it is a quick-fix that does not last. Mosquito populations have been shown to quickly surge back to pre-spray levels within several days of spraying. Spraying pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes only kills those adult mosquitoes that are in flight and will not affect breeding habitats or those hidden by trees, bushes, or in backyards. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, Culex mosquitoes, the species that generally carries West Nile virus, are weak fliers and usually do not move far from their larval habitat. This means that high bite counts usually indicate breeding sites are nearby.

There are many simple measures residents can take to limit mosquito breeding on their property. The first step involves removing sources of standing or slow-moving water, such as buckets, cans, dripping taps, bird baths, and tires. Water that cannot be removed can be treated with a larvicide like Mosquito Dunksä or stocked with mosquito-eating fish like Gambusia holbrooki. Individuals can also avoid mosquito bites by wearing long pants and shirts around dawn and dusk, and by applying natural-based insect repellents.

TAKE ACTION: Fight to prevent unnecessary adulticiding in your community and promote effective, intelligent mosquito management. For help see Beyond Pesticides Tools for Activists page. For more information on West Nile Virus and mosquito management see a new factsheet by Beyond Pesticides: The Truth About Mosquitoes, Pesticides, and West Nile Virus.