Mosquito Misting Systems – Is There A Safer Way To Control These Pests?

Mosquito Misting Systems – Consider a SAFER way

A device being promoted these days is the “mosquito misting system” that uses a series of nozzles, usually placed around the periphery of the homeowner’s yard, which emit a fine mist at intervals. The insecticide products often used in outdoor residential misting systems contain pyrethrins, permethrin, and piperonyl butoxide. According to the EPA no pesticide should be regarded as 100% risk free.

These misting systems may destroy mosquitoes, but they also destroy butterflies, honeybees, ladybugs, praying mantis and other beneficial insects, and are toxic to fish and amphibians. Butterfly gardens with one of these systems next door (the mist can drift, and flying insects don’t stay put) is like putting out bird food if you have an outdoor cat.  You are luring butterflies, bees, and other beneficials to their death. 

Since you can use the spray at dawn and dusk, day-flying insects may not be affected.  However, many beneficial insects are active at night, and larval insects (e.g., butterfly caterpillars) are not able to fly away from areas that are sprayed.  Plants or other objects near the spray nozzles build up a residue of the poison that is not good for anything eating them or living in or on them.

A safer way to deal with mosquitoes is to “reduce the source” – eliminate as much as possible any place around your home where mosquitoes might breed.  Mosquitoes can breed in less than a tablespoon of water, even in wet leaves.

  • Clogged gutters, plant saucers, birdbaths, pet water bowls, and other containers that hold water are all potential breeding sites.  Freshen water bowls and birdbaths every day.
  • Put mosquito fish into any outdoor ponds and turn wheelbarrows, pots, and buckets upside down
  • In areas of standing water that can’t be drained you can use “mosquito dunks” that release a bacterium (Bacillus thuringensis israelensis,) that infects only mosquitoes.  Find them online and in most hardware stores, home improvement stores, and garden centers.
  • Consider using a repellent with 33% DEET and/or wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. There are also a number of non-poisonous and non-toxic insect repellents available – just research online!

A simple fan in your backyard can keep mosquitoes away during outdoor activities and is at least as effective and much safer than any of the candles or coils on the market.  Here’s  an article from Consumer Reports on non-toxic repellents: