Spraying for mosquitoes has begun in Florida, as in many other places. Some of the sprays can be harmful to the environment. Is the cure worse than the problem?
"As the sun set over Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, Richard Howe guided his UH-1 Huey helicopter into the air and headed south. At an altitude of 300 feet, he began discharging pesticide from a patented system of his own design, which fogs the air with tiny droplets, as he swept over the western neighborhoods of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and other cities
With the arrival of the rainy season, aerial mosquito spraying has begun in South Florida, as airplanes and helicopters take to the sky to attack the despised insects. Like air conditioning and sunscreen, mosquito control helps make life bearable in a challenging part of the world. The work, consisting of aerial spraying, ground spraying and trapping to detect diseases, is carried out with far more precision and environmental control than in the past, when planes spewed DDT over Florida's fields and swamps
But discharging pesticide from the air -- the last-ditch measure in a suite of weapons against mosquitoes -- comes at a cost to the environment, with impact to butterflies, other pollinating insects, birds and fish. The chemical used for the vast majority of aerial mosquito spraying in Florida is Naled, a neurotoxin that kills insects indiscriminately. Mosquito control authorities in Florida sprayed about 19,650 gallons of Naled on 5.2 million acres from 2009 to 2010, the most recent period for which statewide data is available."
David Fleshler reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel June 15, 2012.