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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pests' Category


16
Sep

The Way Humans Alter the Environment Increases the Prevalence of Disease Carrying Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2020) Disease carrying mosquitoes are more likely to flourish in areas being altered by human activities, according to new research published by scientists at Oregon State University. With climate change facilitating the spread of mosquitoes into new regions throughout the world, it is critical to understand the drivers of mosquito-borne disease in order to establish effective mitigation measures. “People care a lot about what environment a lion needs to succeed in; we’ve researched that extensively. But people don’t do that with mosquitoes. We don’t understand them as a group of species and how their ecology differs between species,” said study co-author Brianna Beechler, PhD, a disease ecologist and assistant professor of research in Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. Authors of the study note that most mosquito collection occurs opportunistically, with samples taken at known mosquito breeding sites. To better understand mosquito spatial ecology, scientists conducted paired sampling at locations inside and outside South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the largest nature preserve in the country. Each sample location inside the park was paired with another sample from a similar location (in terms of landscape and climatic conditions) in developing areas outside of the park. […]

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02
Sep

Monarch Massacre: Hundreds of Monarch Butterflies Die After Aerial Mosquito Spraying in North Dakota

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2020) It’s being called the Monarch Massacre—hundreds of monarch butterflies found dead after the Vector Control Department of Cass County, North Dakota aerially sprayed the county for mosquito control. This incident occurred during a moment in history that is seeing monarchs at the edge of extinction, with the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico having declined 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. This tragedy happened as the nation and the world are experiencing an insect apocalypse and severe biodiversity decline, threatening the web of life. (See Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues.) While it is critical that steps be taken by communities nationwide to protect their local ecology, the incident generated a response from Cass County that claims that the insecticides used are “the lowest toxicity products on the market for mosquito control,” and points to the “monarch migration [that] is a sporadic event that unfortunately occurred during the latest adult mosquito control application.”  The County justifies the spraying because of nuisance mosquitoes and a finding in the “surrounding communities” of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus (WNv). In its Facebook statement, the County […]

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04
Aug

Massachusetts Enacts New Measures for Mosquito Management with Pros and Cons

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2020) Last month Massachusetts lawmakers finalized, and the Governor subsequently signed, emergency legislation S.2757, aimed at revamping the state’s approach to mosquito management. The final version of this mosquito reform bill continues to include certain problematic provisions, but nonetheless represents a significant shift from an initial proposal that would have allowed the blanket spraying of mosquito adulticides throughout the Commonwealth with little oversight, notification, or transparency. “Though many cooks had a hand in the process, the resulting final bill was strengthened by advocates,” said state Senator Jo Comerford, Chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Public Health, in an emailed statement to supporters. “I’m pleased that we were able to build in strong protections for both the environment and human health.” The original bill was filed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) under emergency legislative provisions, requiring state lawmakers to act within a set period of time. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) had indicated that this year would bring higher risks of mosquito-borne disease, particularly Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), for which outbreaks generally last two or three years. The state saw 12 human cases of EEE and four deaths from the disease in 2019; […]

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20
Jul

Take Action: Tell Public Officials to Stop Mosquito Spraying and Adopt a Safe, Effective Mosquito Management Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2020) Does your community spray toxic pesticides for mosquitoes? In a well-intentioned but ill-informed attempt to prevent mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, many communities spray insecticides (adulticides) designed to kill flying mosquitoes. If your community is one of these, then your public officials need to know that there is a better, more-effective, way to prevent mosquito breeding. Tell your public officials to stop spraying pesticides and adopt a mosquito management plan that protects public health and the environment. The problem with mosquito pesticides. Two classes of insecticides are favored by mosquito spray programs—organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. In order to better target flying mosquitoes, adulticides are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations that will float in the air longer than usual.  Pesticides are toxic chemicals and can exacerbate respiratory illnesses like Covid-19.Organophosphates, which include malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom), and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist for public health uses only) are highly toxic pesticides that affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Symptoms of poisoning in humans include numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to […]

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08
Jul

With 400,000 Malaria Deaths Worldwide, Insect Resistance to Mosquito Pesticides Calls for Urgent Need to Shift to Alternative Management Strategies

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2020) Efforts to control the transmission of malaria are encountering a big, though predictable, problem: the mosquitoes that transmit malaria are developing resistance to at least five of the insecticides that have been central to limiting transmission of the disease. A study released in late June reveals a dramatic increase in resistance to pyrethroid insecticides and DDT across sub-Saharan Africa. This signals the failure of a mainstay chemical approach to the spread of malarial mosquitoes; this same problem — resistance — is happening with chemical management of agricultural pests and weeds, and with antibiotics to treat human bacterial infections. This study underscores a point Beyond Pesticides has made repeatedly: resistance to pesticides (whether insecticides, herbicides, biocides, fungicides, or medical antibiotics) is nearly inevitable. The solution to containing the spread of malaria lies not in the use of more and different chemicals, but in nontoxic approaches that respect nature and ecological balance. Malaria is a sometimes deadly disease caused by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with any of four varieties of the Plasmodium parasite. The disease kills roughly 400,000 people annually, with half that mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. sees approximately 2,000 cases of malaria annually, primarily in […]

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05
Jun

Massachusetts Struggles for Safe, Effective Mosquito  Management; Governor’s Arbovirus Proposal Much Improved but Big Questions Remain

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2020) Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts is wrestling with solutions for mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). A coalition consisting of national, state and local nonprofits, with the assistance of 75 legislators, won major amendments to emergency legislation sponsored by Governor Charles Baker, but the coalition seeks further refinements. As originally introduced, Gov. Baker’s bill (H.4650 – see original legislation and amended version) would have given state agencies overly broad authority to eradicate mosquitoes through unlimited pesticide applications, without local input or notification to communities and residents prior to aerial spraying.  It would have suspended all environmental safeguards whenever state officials determine that an elevated risk of arbovirus “may exist” in the future.  In response to input from 75 legislators, the Joint Committee on Public Health made significant improvements to the bill, including– Giving property owners 48-hour notification before a spray event; Providing public notice as to what chemical agents will be sprayed; and Sunset emergency powers within two years, and authorization of a comprehensive stakeholder-driven evaluation of how the Commonwealth deals with mosquito control. “We applaud lawmakers for significantly improving accountability and transparency, but more work is needed,” […]

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08
May

Proposed Legislation To Allow Massachusetts to Blanket State with Mosquito Pesticides that Attack the Immune and Respiratory Systems, During a Pandemic that Attacks the Same Systems

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2020) At the height of Covid-19 impacts in the Northeast U.S., Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito (R) filed emergency legislation at the Boston State House that would, according to their April 16 press release, “help the Commonwealth more effectively combat diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including arboviruses like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV), by authorizing a coordinated, proactive, statewide approach to mosquito control activities.” Protecting the public from such diseases is an important public health mission. However, the Governor’s bill, H.4650, represents an alarming “over-reach” that would give unitary authority to the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (SRMCB) to conduct mosquito control activities, including ineffective and toxic spraying, with virtually no effective oversight or transparency. Beyond Pesticides opposes this bill, whose passage would enable use of pesticides that can have respiratory and immune impacts — increasing health risks for everyone, but especially for the many people already at higher risk from Covid-19, despite the availability of ecological management approaches that eliminate the need for toxic chemicals. H.4650, An Act to mitigate arbovirus in the Commonwealth — was promulgated in response to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health […]

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07
May

Court Requires EPA to Respond to Petition to Ban Toxic Pesticide in Pet Products

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2020) On April 22, 2020, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 90 days to respond to Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) petition requesting cancellation of tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), a toxic organophosphate pesticide in pet products. The order followed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to grant NRDC’s petition for a writ of mandamus (a court’s order requiring a lower court or public authority to perform its statutory duty) as EPA withheld action to fulfill NRDC’s judicial review of TCVP, for over a decade. A favorable ruling on NRDC’s mandamus petition can influence other petitioners that hope to coerce agency action, especially when public health is at risk. The court states, “Repeatedly, the EPA has kicked the can down the road and betrayed its prior assurances of timely action, even as it has acknowledged that the pesticide poses widespread, serious risks to the neurodevelopmental health of children.” NRDC petitioned EPA to cancel TCVP pesticide registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in April 2009, after studies indicated humans absorb TCVP through contact with pesticide-treated pet products. EPA failed to respond to the initial petition after five years, and NRDC filed a 2014 mandamus requiring […]

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14
Jan

New Method of Lyme Disease Prevention Promising, But Not Ready to Replace Personal Protective Measures

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2020) Scientists have found a new method to reduce the sources of Lyme disease, but it is uncertain whether the finding will ultimately translate into fewer cases of human infections. Research published in the journal Experimental and Applied Acarology finds that incorporating Lyme vaccines into pelletized mouse food had the effect of reducing levels of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, in both mice and ticks in a certain location. “So, the idea here is to vaccinate the mice,” study author Kirby Stafford, PhD told WBUR. “What we’ve done is incorporate a Lyme disease vaccine in an oral bait that would immunize them. That would prevent ticks feeding on those animals from becoming infected and then ultimately turn around and infect you.” To test their approach, researchers enrolled 32 homes in Redding, CT, an area where Lyme disease in endemic and several human cases are reported each year. Vaccine-incorporated mouse baiting stations were placed around 21 homes, while 11 acted as a control. Four times throughout the two year study period, mice and the ticks attached to them were trapped and tested for the disease. While there were no significant differences between the experimental […]

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07
Jan

What Happens When You Paint Zebra Stripes on a Cow? Eliminate Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2020) It may seem peculiar at first sight, but painting zebra stripes on domestic cattle has the potential to significantly reduce the livestock industry’s use of toxic pesticides, according to research published last year by Japanese scientists at the Aichi Agricultural Research Center in Nagakute, Japan. Each year, farmers spend an estimated $1.6 billion on pesticides in the livestock industry, while biting flies cause over $2 billion of economic loss. This clever example of applied ecology could change those numbers with the added benefit of a safer environment.    While long considered a mystery, the science is now generally in agreement that zebras developed their stripes in order to confuse and ward off biting flies and the various ailments that can be passed on by the pests. While some cow breeds were developed with spotted patterns that may confer some fly deterrence, researchers used mono-colored Japanese Black cows to test their hypothesis. Six cows were separated into one of three groups: white and black stripes, black stripes, and an unpainted control. Stripes were painted with a water-based lacquer. The cows were observed starting 30 minutes after the paint was applied and allowed to air out. For […]

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25
Sep

Mysterious “Havana syndrome” Linked to Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) In 2016, Canadians and Americans residing in Havana reported symptoms of headaches, dizziness, nausea. They described hearing strange buzzing and high-pitched sounds – some woke in the middle of the night fumbling for alarm clocks that were not going off. Media used the term “Havana syndrome” to describe the illness. Diplomats, scared by symptoms that seemed to only hit them in their hotel rooms or at home, speculated that a sonic weapon was being used against them. The Trump administration accused Cuban leaders of misconduct and removed all but essential employees. Later, some suspected that the diplomats could have experienced “mass hysteria.” A new Canadian study provides a more likely explanation to this mysterious illness that impacted diplomats in Havana: neurotoxic pesticide exposure. Researchers conducted testing on 14 individuals who had resided in Havana and a control group of 12 that had never lived there. Some of the experimental group had been recently exposed while others, tested 19 months after their return, were classified as “remotely exposed.” Tests included brain imaging and self-reported symptom questionnaires. They analyzed blood samples for routine biochemistry, kidney, liver, and metabolic functions. Individuals that showed symptoms of brain injury went […]

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10
Jul

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to Drop 1.5 Tons of Rodenticide on National Wildlife Refuge

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2019) The California Coastal Commission will host a public hearing today on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposal to drop 1.5 tons of the rodenticide brodifacoum, an extremely potent anticoagulant, on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The Los Angeles Times headline on July 7 read, “Biologists say it’s for the best.” At the least, it is important to highlight that all biologists have not come to a consensus and the topic is very much still under debate. The commission has already received over 700 emails regarding the drop, with 600 opposing it. Home to rare, endemic seabirds such as the ashy storm-petrel, the Farallon Islands certainly have a serious mouse problem – 59,000 rodents occupy the rocky islands. Mice compete with native species for resources and attract an average of six burrowing owls a year. Owls feast upon ashy storm-petrels when mouse populations drop during the winter, killing hundreds of petrels annually. The global population of the ashy storm-petrel is small (10,000 – 20,000), but it is not considered an endangered species. The Audubon Society in California, which supports the brodifacoum program, worked with experts who say the eradication of invasive mice is […]

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02
Jul

Cockroaches Rapidly Develop Resistance to Nearly Every Pesticide, Requiring Alternative Approach

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2019) German cockroaches, the bane of many apartment-dwellers throughout the U.S., can rapidly develop cross-resistance to insecticides they have never been exposed to, according to researchers from Purdue University. “This is a previously unrealized challenge in cockroaches,” said Michael Scharf, PhD, whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. “Cockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone.” In the face of pesticide resistance, integrated measures that focus structural, mechanical, and cultural pest management practices must become standard practice for this notorious pest. Dr. Scharf and his colleagues began their study at two separate housing complexes in Indianapolis, IN and Danville, IL. Prior to the study, researchers pre-treated a subset of cockroaches in each building, and selected five insecticides out of 14 commercially available. These insecticides – abamectin, pyriproxyfen, thiamethoxam, lambda-cyhalothrin, and boric acid, were used because cockroaches had already developed significant resistance to others tested, mostly synthetic pyrethroids. Pre-treatment applications of synthetic pyrethroids revealed over 80% of cockroaches surviving. For the insecticides left with any level of efficacy, researchers established three separate treatment approaches, and stuck with it for six months, with one […]

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06
Jun

Pesticide Use Kills Off Mosquito Predators Faster than Target Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2019) Pesticide use eliminates pest predators and permits mosquito populations to flourish, according to research conducted in Costa Rica by scientists at Utah State University. The new study, “Adaptation to agricultural pesticides may allow mosquitoes to avoid predators and colonize novel ecosystems,” highlights the dangers of human intervention through broad scale pesticide applications, and the urgent need to consider ecosystem-wide impacts before allowing chemicals to be placed on the market. As lead study author Edd Hammill, PhD, told National Geographic, the investigation got its start after he observed higher numbers of mosquitoes in orange groves he was visiting, when compared to other, non-agricultural areas. “We felt like we were getting a lot more mosquito bites in plantations than in pristine areas and started to wonder why,” noted Dr. Hammill. The study focuses first on the role that bromeliads, a tropical flowering plant that grows on tree branches, play in affecting mosquito populations. Mosquitoes use the water that these plants catch in between their leaves to lay eggs. Many other species are found to lay eggs within the leaves, including the top-level predator in this system, the damselfly. Dr. Hammill’s team looked at community composition within bromeliad […]

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30
Jan

Bug Bombs Don’t Work – At All, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 30, 2019) Bug bombs are completely ineffective at reducing German cockroach infestations, according to new research published in the journal BMC Public Health.  Not only are they ineffective, research indicates that these products are putting people at unnecessary risk. “In a cost-benefit analysis, you’re getting all costs and no benefits,” said Zachary DeVries, PhD, co-author of the study. “Bug bombs are not killing cockroaches; they’re putting pesticides in places where the cockroaches aren’t; they’re not putting pesticides in places where cockroaches are and they’re increasing pesticide levels in the home.” Scientists enrolled residents in 30 low-income apartments that had ongoing German cockroach infestations. Of the 30 homes, 20 were treated with a name-brand total release fogger (TRF), or bug bomb, and and 10 were treated only with gel baits. Baseline pesticide residue levels were recorded in all residences, and new data was collected after use of the bug bombs. Bug bombs were set off in each infested apartment’s kitchen, according to EPA label precautions. Residents waited 4-6 hours before ventilating and returning to their homes. In apartments receiving baiting gel treatments, the products were applied three times on an as-needed basis during the course of a month. […]

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21
Dec

Blackberry Leaves Decompose to Thwart Mosquito Breeding

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2019) A study at the University of Maine (UMaine) finds that adding blackberry leaf litter in stormwater catch basins creates an “ecological trap,” enticing mosquito females to lay eggs in sites unsuitable for larvae survival. Employing this new and incredibly viable “attract-and-kill’ tool for mosquito control shows potential for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes that may carry insect-borne diseases, especially in urban environments. Stormwater catch basins regularly accumulate leaf litter, which serve as habitat for the mosquito species Culex pipiens (Cx. Pipiens) that may carry West Nile virus. Previous University of Maine research discovered decomposing leaf litter from Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) produces chemical compounds that attracts and stimulates Cx. Pipiens female to oviposit, or lay eggs. Investigating the attractiveness and lethality of varying catch basin conditions to mosquitoes, researchers hypothesized that blackberry leaf litter could be shown to be lethal to developing mosquito larvae, and, therefore, act as a natural ecological trap for Cx. Pipiens. Five varying treatments were applied to a total 50 catch basins. Treatments included (1) all debris dredged weekly throughout the duration of the study, (2) no change to debris naturally occurring in catch basins, (3) […]

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29
Nov

Release of GE Mosquitoes Canceled by Cayman Islands Officials

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2018) The British Cayman Islands will no longer fund the release of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes, as reports indicate that the program failed to achieve its intended goals.  The government is formally terminating its contract with the UK-based company Oxitec, which marketed GE mosquitoes as a sort of silver bullet for the management of diseases such as Zika, yellow fever, malaria, and dengue. Advocates opposed to the GE mosquito program are continuing to encourage a focus on education and source reduction as the best method to address mosquito-borne diseases. Oxitec first began introducing its line of GE mosquitoes earlier in the decade, at a variety of locations including India, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Florida Keys. Public opposition to the release has been consistently strong. In the Florida Keys, over 230,000 people signed a change.org petition opposing the release. In the Cayman Islands, residents launched a number of lawsuits. In each instance the company was granted free reign to initiate its program. GE mosquitoes aim to ‘gene drive’ mosquito populations out of existence, a process intended to propagate a particular set of genes in a species. The company developed GE mosquitoes in a laboratory, injecting a gene […]

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21
Nov

Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]

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10
Sep

Take Action: Tell Your Public Officials to Stop Spraying Pesticides and Adopt a Safe, Effective Mosquito Management Plan

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10 2019) Does your community spray toxic pesticides for mosquitoes? In a well-intentioned but ill-informed attempt to prevent mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, many communities spray insecticides (adulticides) designed to kill flying mosquitoes. If your community is one of these, then your public officials need to know that there is a better, more-effective, way to prevent mosquito breeding. Tell your public officials to stop spraying pesticides and adopt a mosquito management plan that protects public health and the environment. The problem with mosquito pesticides. Two classes of insecticides are favored by mosquito spray programs –organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. In order to better target flying mosquitoes, adulticides are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations that will float in the air longer than usual. Organophosphates, which include malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom), and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist), are highly toxic pesticides that affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Symptoms of poisoning in humans include: numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to birth defects and cancer. Breakdown times range from a few days to several months, depending […]

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05
Jul

Study Finds Fathead Minnows Decrease Density of Larval Mosquitoes in Ponds by 114%

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2018) With mosquito season in full swing throughout the U.S., land managers and abatement districts can be well served by employing biological controls in the form of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas), according to research published earlier this year by scientists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. In all but the most extreme conditions, these small fish, native throughout most of the continental United States, can provide effective control of mosquito larvae breeding in standing water. Beyond Pesticides encourages states and localities to focus primarily on larval control and public education as the best means to manage nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes, in contrast to adulticiding, the least effective means which allows 99.9% of a pesticide applied to contaminate the environment. At the close of Pollinator Week 2018, join us in urging Governors and state legislatures to ban the use of mosquito misters. To test the efficacy of fathead minnows to control mosquito populations, researchers stocked the fish in 10 water catchment basins in the central U.S. Over the course of three years, larval mosquito populations were monitored in these basins, as well as in six control basins that did not receive an influx of minnows. […]

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31
May

Deforestation Found to Cause Malaria to Spread, in the Face of Harmful and Ineffective Mosquito Insecticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2018) Deforestation in tropical regions helps spread malaria, concludes a recent research study of the Amazon Rainforest. Published in Nature’s open-access journal, Scientific Reports, the study details researchers’ work, from 2009–2015, comparing patterns of deforestation to rates of malaria in nine states in the Brazilian rainforest. Investigators found that the highest malaria incidence concentrated in impacted patches of forest — areas deforested or otherwise degraded from an unmanaged or more-natural state. These medium-sized patches (from .1 to 5 sq. km. in size) seem to be the “sweet spots” at which wood extraction activity (logging, charcoal production, et al.) correlate most strongly with malarial infection rates. The researchers suggest that the finding is perhaps related to the habitat preferences of the primary malaria vector in the region, Anopheles (Nyssorhynchus) darlingi, which breed most happily in shady, watery, edges of forest habitat. Sixty of the 380 mosquitoes in the genus Anopheles can transmit the malaria parasites. Deforestation fragments the forest landscape, creating more forest “edges,” which means more places for mosquitoes to breed. This fragmentation may also help malaria-carrying mosquitoes spread to other areas as adults: “The new [fragmented] landscape delineated by the pattern of deforestation and soil occupation may favor […]

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23
May

Connecticut State Legislature Bans Residential Mosquito Misters

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2018) Earlier this month, the Connecticut state legislature voted to ban the use of residential pesticide misting systems. (These are devices that are typically placed outdoors and spray insecticides –mostly in an attempt to control mosquitoes.) This is the latest move from a state legislature that has also recently banned the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoids and stopped the use of hazardous lawn care pesticides on public playgrounds. The vote was unanimous in the state Senate, and won by a count of 132-17 in the state House. The bill is set to become law on May 24, unless Governor Malloy vetoes the legislation, which is not expected. Pesticide misters are machines primarily used to spray mosquito adulticides. Many health advocates have expressed concern that these products, able to spray toxic pesticides on a timer at regular intervals, pose a significant risk to pets and children who can be directly in the path of a mister’s spray. The chemicals employed in these machines are often synthetic pyrethroids, which have been linked to a range of human health effects, from early puberty in boys, to behavioral disorders, learning problems, ADHD, and certain cancers. Neighbors who do not want to be […]

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10
May

Research Assesses Ability of Rodent Poisons to Act as a “Super-Predator” in Ecosystems

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2018) Rodenticides like bromadiolone, used to kill vole populations on farms, act like “super-predators” that imperil ecosystem health, according to preliminary results published by researchers working for the European Union. “Controlling voles with bromadiolone reduces the amount of food available to predators and increases their risk of secondary poisoning when they eat the contaminated rodents,” project researcher Javier Fernandez de Simon, PhD, said in a press release. The study provides a model that may alleviate the impact of rodenticide use and provide a balance between on-farm pest management and sustainability. There are several types of rodenticides available on the market, including acute poisons like strychnine, fumigants like phosphine gas, and anti-coagulants such as warfarin and bromadiolone. Anti-coagulants, the focus of the present study, work by blocking the ability of the body to form blood clots. Animals exposed to bromodialone and other anti-coagulants experience ruptured blood vessels, hair loss and skin damage, nosebleeds, and bleeding gums prior to death. These pesticides are generally applied through secured bait boxes that only allow rodent pests to feed, however secondary poisoning is a common occurrence, leading researchers to dub these rodenticides, in effect, as “super-predators.” Rodents that ingest anti-coagulant pesticides […]

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