Letter: Town set personal best in killing beneficial bugs with aerial spray

Dear Editor:

Newcomers may not be familiar with our ways. The annual aerial spraying is tradition. An integral part of our Fourth of July celebration. It wouldn’t be the Fourth without it. Us old timers couldn’t imagine the holiday without the lingering fragrance of insecticide. That would be like a Fourth without ice cream or lemonade.

And this year is one for the record books. Sprays killed 57 bugs per square meter on my sampling grid. That nudges out the previous record, 45 / m^2 in 2016, and dwarfs last year’s measly 15 / m^2. Only downer is that the one mosquito (a non-biting male) on the collection grid flew off before I could get a closer look for identification. All the killed insects were otherwise beneficial or harmless species. A couple little native bees among them, and a braconid wasp that preys on aphids. Anyway, that 57 / m^2 translates to about 60 million dead insects, plus or minus, over the area covered by the flight path.

Put that in perspective, that’s about 20 times the human population of the Denver Metro, or 30,000 Meekers. It’s enough insects to feed a colony of barn swallows for two years. Think about that.

This one-off aerial spraying is not just highly destructive to populations of beneficial and otherwise harmless insects and detrimental to the services they provide and to the birds and other creatures that depend on them, but it is essentially worthless in terms of mosquito control. Aerial sprays knock down adult, flying insects. The next generation of mosquitoes hatch out in a day or two, and we’re back to swatting again. There are mosquito control programs that are much safer and much more effective.

Repeat: less destructive and more effective.

The Town Council knows about those programs. They’ve been informed. Several times.
Wake up and start a rational integrated mosquito management program.

Dr. Bob Dorsett

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