Humans and mosquitoes have a long and contentious history. For centuries, people have tried to protect themselves, their pets, and their livestock from irritating bites and the effects of mosquito-borne disease. Early organized efforts to control mosquitoes were framed as a war of annihilation and implemented via a scorched-earth policy of drained and oiled wetlands and the use of highly toxic broad-spectrum pesticides. The effects of these still linger in our landscape today.
These days, mosquito control agents are better targeted and less toxic, but their use still has significant negative impacts on wetlands and the wildlife they support. Each year tens of millions of acres of wetlands are treated with pesticides. The most commonly used insecticides have severe impacts on nontarget invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and birds. They have been implicated in declines of both wetland-associated and terrestrial wildlife, including the endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly.
Xerces has just released Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands to push for changes in how cities, counties, and other governmental agencies manage mosquitoes and wetlands. This report reviews the history of mosquito management in the United States, identifies the impacts of current mosquito management practices on wetland health, and provides detailed guidance on how to effectively manage mosquitoes while protecting wetlands and wildlife from pesticides.
Framed within general principles developed by the Centers for Disease Control -- public education, removal of breeding sites, and personal protective measures -- Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands lays out a series of steps that land managers can take to reduce the abundance of mosquitoes. Homeowners can also be a vital part of the solution by taking simple actions like emptying unused wading pools and unclogging gutters to remove mosquito breeding sites, and thus minimize biting.
Click here to read the report or a four-page summary.