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Mosquito Eradication Killing Bees


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In some places mosquitoes weren’t as bad as expected over the summer, in other places worse. Where there are mosquitoes, there may be Zika is some places in the south, but other diseases as well, such as West Nile Encephalitis.

Earlier this month, mosquito eradication efforts in South Carolina, went horribly wrong, according to several printed reports  resulted in almost total devastation to indigenous bee populations. The pesticide used to target the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, which can carry and transmit the Zika virus, killed off millions of bees. This single incident is one of many that have been laying waste to beneficial pollinators which has now led to the bumblebee’s proposed listing as an endangered species. This could turn out to be an American tragedy.

To an extent beyond what most people are aware, bees are truly depended on in our own food chain.  According to experts, bumblebees’ contribution to farms is estimated at a whopping $3.5 billion. Bumblebees, as distinguished from domesticated honey bees, are essential pollinators of wildflowers and also for about a third of U.S. crops, from blueberries to tomatoes. Of course, there’s also an ethical issue – why kill the bees when you are after killing mosquitoes. Bees do have some natural predators, and they will also suffer with far fewer bees.

None of the reports indicate ways to bring back the bees. Due to the partial seasonality of mosquitoes, and what happened as a result of spraying, one might assume spraying has stopped and will not occur next year – but there is no official confirmation of that in the printed reports.

Another scary note: according to one printed report from Jefferson Post, samples of pollen, nectar and dead bees tested from four to 35 times above detection limits for pesticides.

To be clear, even in Northern states, some mosquito species hunker down in the winter indoors in garages (even unheated), basements, crawl spaces, attics, or even outdoors in places that are reasonably warmer. One example may be underground in commuter train stations in major cities. And the buggers may still bite in the winter. In Southern states (including much of North Carolina), many species remain a threat through winter because the weather doesn’t get cold enough for a long enough period of time.

Aside from carrying a potential cocktail of illnesses to people, which experts suggest may be an incomplete list, mosquitoes also spread heartworm in dogs. The above explains, in part, why the American Heartworm Society suggests year-round protection for dogs. Note: Cats can also suffer from heartworm; where there is heartworm in dogs there is heartworm in cats.

Fleas and especially ticks may still be a threat over-winter, particularly in Southern States (but many ticks become active on warmer winter days in even Northern climates). The Companion Animal Parasite Council suggests year-round protection everywhere in the U.S.

Vectra 3D is a flea/tick preventive that not only works to deter fleas and ticks, but also turns out to repel (and even kill) mosquitoes. Dead mosquitoes can’t bite people. Also, this is a double-defense against heartworm (in addition to a traditional heartworm product).

Vectra 3D is obviously not a mosquito spray – but Vectra 3D doesn’t harm bees or the environment, and it is safe for dogs.

Mosquito eradication is important, and there is a concern that next year Zika will push further North, and where Zika is now, it may become further established. We need to think about unintended consequences of mosquito eradication techniques. Experts suggest the  diminishment of the bees will cost far more than what’s even suggested, and without the bees there may be additional consequences not even known at this time.

 

 

 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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