This morning (May 30 2017) KCCI.com reported that the City of Des Moines is starting to spray for mosquitoes. To me the article by reporter Tommie Clark seemed a little heavy on speculation and a little short on the information I wanted to know. Perhaps I can fill in a couple of gaps.
The City of Des Moines has a Mosquito Control Program. The City’s website discusses quite well the areas of special concern, what you should do personally to eliminate mosquito breeding areas, to a small extent the justification, and how to prevent spraying at your address.
What materials will the City spray? The City will use BIOMIST® 4 + 4 ULV (See the Safety Data Sheet, also called the SDS.)
What is in the BIOMIST product?
BIOMIST® 4 + 4 ULV has two active materials suspended in mineral oil. The mosquito killing insecticide portion is permethrin, a commonly used insecticide.
A second chemical (piperonyl butoxide) is added to increase the effectiveness of the permethrin insecticide.
Are there any precautionary restrictions? The company’s Safety Data Sheet suggests that if you want to know that information, you will have to go find it yourself and then read the product label if you are that interested. OK, it took me a minute to get the product label, but I got it. (The Product Label.)
As a chemist did I find anything I thought was important in the SDS or the product label? Yes, I did – quite a few things, but I will mention only 4.
1. Like many chemicals we encounter permethrin is toxic enough that it is regulated.
2. Because it is absorbed via skin and eyes, you (and especially your children) don’t want to be out in the mist when the City applies it (after 8 in the evening).
3. You’d better hope that the City workers applying it are well trained.
4. It’s lethal to bees. If you have bees or are trying to protect bee habitats, you can request that your property be exempt from the spraying by calling (515) 248-6099 and requesting the City not spray at your address. I called and the City worker was very professional and accommodating.
There is much more information. You will have to read the rest and make your own judgments.
Personally I have a minuscule fear of the West Nile virus and no fear at all of the Zika virus which has not been found in Iowa. To suggest that we are spraying for mosquitos because of the threat of the Zika virus is a logical fallacy known as a red herring.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
(The mosquito image was taken in 2006 by Professor Frank Hadley Collins at the University of Notre Dame. That image and others are in the public domain and can be found at http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16739 .)