Now, where’d I put that soapbox??

Ah, I found it… and now I’m standing on it. It’s about pesticides. Our association sprayed (“EPA approved lower risk”) pesticides again yesterday. They made a wide berth around me, the crazy lady in the driveway holding the pitchfork.  Not really, but my hands were on my hips when I told them to skip my house. We were not sprayed.

We were told to take away birdseed, empty birdbaths, remove pet items and food, children’s toys, and personal belongings. “KEEP CHILDREN AND PETS AWAY FROM ALL TREATED AREAS UNTIL THEY DRY” So folks took their pets and children inside, shut windows and doors, and waited until the coast was clear. Pesticides like insecticides have become a widely accepted way to keep our homes and gardens relatively pest-free.

But how about those animals left outdoors?


This week I’m hearing the wood thrush singing the most beautiful melody just inside the wooded area against which they sprayed. It’s an insect eater, and just 20′ inside the woodline is a free flowing stream and vernal pools full of life. A variety of songbirds were hovering in the freshly treated shrubbery looking for our suet and meal worms we removed. The robins were bobbing across the freshly treated lawns and shrubbery around each building searching for worms and insects. My bluebird parents were busy feeding insects to their young in a bird box 50′ from our back door. Bunnies, pesky or not, were most likely sprayed in their nests under shrubs around homes. A variety of bees and other pollinators were buzzing around the newly blooming rhododendron. Around our foundation, I see our toads and the tiny salamanders emerging from hibernation and moving through leaf litter searching for small insects… like beneficial spiders.

salamander 2017

Our sluggish salamander unearthed in a flowerpot from hibernation.

In the garden, growing healthy plants using organic methods is the best pest deterrent. There are a variety of natural pest control methods such as Integrated Pest Management using beneficial insects and remedies like traps and barriers.  I don’t want ticks or termites either and, of course, I realize my life cannot be chemical-free. But pesticides should be a last resort.

Pesticides are designed to kill. Ticks, termites, and carpenter bees are some of what they want to prevent. But, sadly, most insects are good insects. They become the non-target victims that then become a part of the contaminated food chain.

Fig.  5.21: An example of a food chain.

I am not an activist. I simply wish for another way.

10 thoughts on “Now, where’d I put that soapbox??

  1. I understand! When we were little they would spray DDT from trucks going through the neighborhood. Maybe you can lobby your association to get them to consider a better plan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember those trucks…. and we kids in the neighborhood would chase the DDT truck on our bikes and become enveloped in the fog. DDT was ‘safe’ back then, right? I’m a lobby of one but it’s worth a try. 🐞🦎🐿


  2. You may be a lobby of one in your association, but not out here in the gardening world. Count them – two. You and me for sure. 🙂 We live near a subdivision of homes in the $200-400,000 range. They have wonderful sidewalks perfect for walking. When I choose to walk in there, I see all the little signs stuck in the yards about it just being sprayed. I can also smell it in the air as I walk. Depressing that it is going to take several more generations to realize how hazardous all this spraying is your health.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. About 20 years ago I sprayed the foundation and beds to stop an invasion of millipedes that were literally climbing the walls. It stopped the invasion but first the toads died or left and then the blue racer lizards left. The toads never returned but the lizards did several years later.


  4. You have the right to ask for the actual chemical used and the EPA registration number. There are many organic controls, for a lot of pests but not for all. Sometimes a balance has to be struck. Saving trees from invasive pests or when human or pet diseases are a threat, the use of the lowest risk pesticide may be warranted. Sadly there are no purely organic controls for adult mosquitoes yet and Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) would have to be done on a wide area to do much good in killing the larvae.
    Met52 is the only organic control that is effective on Ticks, but it is expensive and has to be applied properly.


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