Ed O'Rourke

Stop Using Pesticides
January 2006

We in Braeswood Place (and many other neighborhood) can let nature do its work rather than tinkering with pesticides. A number of sources (www.beyondpesticides.org and www.nopesticides.org ) state that pesticides do more harm than good. Children in families that use pesticides are 6.5 times more likely to get childhood leukemia than those who do not use pesticides. Research shows that a mere 1% of the pesticides applied to plant ever reaches its ultimate target, the bad bugs. The remaining 99% pollutes and poisons the soil, air, water, beneficial bugs, animals and eventually human beings. An alternative to pesticides is attracting beneficial bugs by: 1. Kick the chemical habit. Never use pesticides, even botanical ones. 2. Leave some grass unmowed to shelter insects and small critters. 3. Put that rake away. Leaf litter under trees enriches the soil and shelters small insects and microbes. 4. Keep down the dust, especially from leaf blowers. Dust pollution kills beneficial insects. 5. Get rid of electric zap lights. More flying beneficials are killed than mosquitoes. 6. Plant lots of native plants and plan for a full season of bloom to sustain wildlife during the year. 7. Provide food – leaves, berries, nuts, flowers, and organic matter; water – ponds, wetlands, bogs, bird baths; and shelter – rock piles and woodpiles, twig and brush piles, for beleaguered animals whose native habitat is shrinking. 8. Go wild! Let corners or spots of the yard grow naturally. Native beneficials love native vegetation. I advocate a hard look at mosquito spraying by the Cypress Creek Pest Control (contracted by Braeswood Place Homeowners Association), asking them to suspend spraying in our neighborhood for one year. The homeowners’ vigilance of removing stagnant water from bird baths, old tires, rain gutters and the like will do more than any spraying. Since many types of mosquitoes do not travel far from where they hatch, individuals can have a dramatic impact on local mosquito populations. The spraying kills the mosquitos’ predators. Additionally, mosquitoes that survive may become more resistant, longer-lived, more aggressive and have an increased prevalence of a virus within their bodies. Mosquitoes’ predators are good bugs and bats. For example, bats can eat 3,000 mosquitoes in an hour. (See more at Bat Conservation International’s web site www.batcon.org.) The Harris County Mosquito Control Department sprays when there is a confirmed case of disease caused by mosquitoes. Only rarely do they spray to eliminate a nuisance as was the case about 10 days after Tropical Storm Allison. Under the proposed no-spray advocated here, we still need our Braeswood Place Mosquito Control Committee. Both would be performing new roles of erecting bat houses and attracting beneficial bugs to Braeswood Place. Different approaches advocated here will bring new results – fewer mosquitoes, less poison exposure and greater balance in our environment.

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Copyright © 2005 Ed O'Rourke, P.C.
Last modified: 04/19/2007