Mosquito sprays generally safe, NC State expert says
Posted May 13, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — More people are turning to mosquito-spraying services to help keep the pests away as they enjoy the outdoors.
But what's in those sprays, how safe are they, and how effective are they?
Mike Waldvogel, an entomologist and associate professor at North Carolina State University, says companies generally use two kinds of solutions to treat yards. One is garlic-based, and the other common solution contains pyrethrin.
The garlic-based solution, he says, acts as a repellant rather than a mosquito-killer.
"It's like when the highway's closed and you have to detour, you still get to your destination," Waldvogel said. "Mosquitoes are going to try to do the same thing."
Pyrethrin is a derivative of chrysanthemums, and for mosquito treatment, it is generally safe for people, Waldvogel said.
"Pyrethrins are not really durable, so after about 24-plus hours, you're really not going to see much of an effect," he said. "It's something that knocks down the mosquitoes right now."
Every mosquito-spraying company uses different mixtures of pesticides, so it might vary as to how long a treatment lasts.
Waldvogel says it's also a good idea to keep flowering plants covered during a spray, because the insecticide also kills helpful insects, such as ladybugs, which feed on other plant-eating insects.
Another way to help prevent mosquitoes, he says, is to get rid of standing water around the house.