Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mosquitos vs. Sumithrin

I have an organic garden.

Or perhaps I had one.

My town contracts for truck -based aerosol spraying of Anvil, a pesticide formulation containing sumithrin, PBO, and white mineral oil (a petroleum based solvent.)

Sumithrin is considered "slightly toxic" and both PBO and white mineral oil are minor carcinogens.

For more information:

The New York State Department of Health's information sheet on Anvil

This stuff was sprayed on my street, near my garden, the night before I intended to harvest green beans. AAARRRGGGHHHH!! I had been watching the newspaper and hadn't seen an announcement of the spraying.

I waited 24 hours before harvesting the green beans and washed them thoroughly. But I really don't want this stuff on my food. How well does it wash off?

After doing a little research, I spoke to the company contracted to do the spraying. I hear that sumithrin breaks down quickly in sunlight (but my garden doesn't get sunlight until midday.)

I learned that Sumithrin persists in soil for up to sixteen weeks. My contact agreed that to be true but said that it adheres to the soil and doesn't go anywhere for that time. Umm....except under my nails. And it's in the soil on any root vegetables or vegetables that touch the dirt in that time.

The kicker? I asked if the spraying was effective, since mosquito borne illnesses are a threat, too, after all. I got the following evasive answer. "Well, it's truck spraying. It's not aerial spraying. That would be effective, but it's politically and environmentally prohibited in [this state.]" So it sounds like these sumithrin applications aren't all that helpful.

Non-pesticide mosquito control measures include eliminating standing water on property, keeping pools clean and chlorinated, and maintaining bat houses. People can also avoid bites by staying in during peak mosquitos hours, covering up if they do go out and judiciously using repellants.

My town's board of health wanted to talk about eliminating the spraying, apparently, but the board of selectmen refused to discuss it. I guess I need to get politically active.

I have excluded my property from all mosquito spraying and town-wide pesticide applications, so by next year my garden will be fully organic again.

What are your thoughts on mosquito spraying?
Do you have any other resources on this topic?



  1. Hi Melinda,

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I tend to briefly rinse my fruit and veggies before eating them, and rarely buy organic. It's awful, I know...but I'm glad to be reminded that I need to pay closer attention to my environment and food.

    I like your tips for controlling mosquitos. I've also heard that citrus incense, or something like that, is helpful. Those skeeters love to bite me, and I need all the help avoiding them that I can get!

    Stay true to you,

    1. I can only rarely afford to buy organic, which is why I have a garden. I do have to buy conventional veggies or not eat any some of the time. I wish our world were more environmentally friendly!

  2. Sorry about your garden. I eat organic fruits and vegetables 99 percent of the time...purchased from markets as the only thing that I grow in my garden are a few herbs.

    Rachel recently posted The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Women

  3. Now I understand all the "non-spraying property" signs in my town! And there are a lot of them. So sorry you were sprayed without any notice.

    I have read that you can soak your fruits and vegetables in a solution of distilled white vinegar and cold water for 20 minutes (or more) to break down chemicals and lift dirt and oil.

    1. I hope to get a lot of those signs around my town!!

      I hadn't heard that but maybe I'll try it. Thanks!