In the past, mosquitoes were mainly considered unpleasant, bloodsucking pests. Nowadays they are deadly in many parts of the world, spreading diseases in summer like denge fever, zika virus, West Nile Virus, yellow fever, and malaria, as well as other diseases. They also give heartworm to canines and felines.
This means using pest control companies and products to kill mosquitoes is becoming a common practice. Unfortunately, the sprays used can also harm bees and butterflies. The good news is that some of these pest control companies follow practices that minimize harm to pollinators.
Insecticide labels forbid the spraying of plants with flowers or spraying where mist can drift onto nearby blooming plants or spraying anywhere near where bees or other foragers are seen.
Keeping mosquitoes out of your garden is a preferable preventative measure than trying to get rid of them once they have settled in. Mosquitoes like to live in places where rain creates mud puddles and there is tall grass and weeds for them to stay in during daytime. Solution: drain mud puddles quickly after a down pour if you have areas of land where the water gathers. Keep your high grass mowed if you have a mosquito problem. Drain any standing water.
In this unrelated 5:00-minute video by Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh, he gives a three-ingredient "natural" solution that did the rounds in the 1980s called the Paul Harvey Spray. He was told it gets rid of mosquitoes. We have not tested this method but Jag Singh did test it and says it worked very well to deter (not kill) mosquitoes.
The most common insecticide used by mosquito control companies is pyrethroid. It is used on the plants close to a person’s home. The label on one product, Bifen 7.9, which contains bifenthrin, states that the product is highly toxic to bees and specifically states it should not be used where bees forage.
These chemicals should also never be sprayed near herbs, vegetables, fruit-trees, and any other plants eaten by humans.
Experts suggest you always do your homework if you are hiring a mosquito treatment company or buying bug spray at a store to spray in your garden yourself. Find out the type of chemical involved and read the label before using the product or service. Always pick one that has the least impact on pollinators, especially if your garden has a lot of flowers and plants and hosts many pollinators.
If you are serious about not harming pollinators, you may have to consider not spraying your garden for mosquitoes. There are some natural solutions, like garlic which has a repellent effect, but some of these can also harm pollinators.
If you can find a natural pesticide company, and better yet one that is run by a person who is a beekeeper or has a lot of knowledge about pollinators, this can be a good way to go. Try to have them spray on a day when the wind is absent or blowing at less than 10 mph.
If you have your property sprayed, keep your neighboring gardens in mind too, since drift can cause the pesticide to end up on their side of the property line and they may have vulnerable pollinators. There can be other issues, too. Children may play in the garden or pets may run in it and drifting pesticide can easily land in a birdbath or dog’s water bowl. Adding an all-natural larvicide to these water sources kills mosquito larvae but would not harm other creatures.
Carefully examine your property for weak spots like standing water, where mosquitoes breed so you can eliminate them. By doing pro-active clean up you can resolve many mosquito problems without having to use insecticide spray.
Encourage neighbors to attend to their gardens too so you can all move towards a mosquito-free environment with patient determination while healthy bees and other pollinators forage in your garden on vibrant flowers.