Asked June 02, 2021, 2:51 PM EDT
We had Mosquito Authority (a local company) spray for mosquitos in our yard today as we have done for years but we have new neighbors who have raised our concern about the safety of this product around vegetables. They applied Maxxthor SC whose main ingredient is Bifethrin which our neighbor looked up only to find that it's banned for agricultural use by the EU as a carcinogen... making them fear they have to replant their entire garden as I didn't warn them so they could cover the area before spraying. The guy doing the applications knows to avoid all blooming plants in our yard so as to protect the bees and he claims they're taught to carefully avoid product getting into neighbor's yards (aiming away from the other yard, spraying down, only on calm day, etc.) but he was spraying within 10-20' of the neighbor's garden.
I'm sure if I call the companies (Ensystex II, Inc.<personal data hidden>, Fayetteville, NC makes Maxxthor SC... Mosquito Authority here in town did the application<personal data hidden>), they'll tell me again, as they always have, that it's safe when properly applied, it dries in an hour, etc. But I want to ask that question of your experts. My neighbors fear they will have to replant their entire garden - should they? Will just this one application do harm if we stop using the service or make sure to cover vegetable gardens in the future? Or should we stop using this service altogether to be safe? It's a difficult balance between using any chemicals to control mosquitos so we're not eaten alive when we go outside and living a healthy life avoiding carcinogens.
Chris Entman<personal data hidden>
Jefferson County Colorado
Thank you for contacting Ask Extension about this problem. Your neighbor has a vegetable garden and they are concerned about this mosquito treatment especially since it was a spray application. I’m trying to determine why you have so many mosquitoes. If you have a water source nearby that could be attracting the mosquitoes.
Spray applications are tricky. Even on a calm day there is residual drift. This product is also available in a granular form that you sprinkle on the ground which would be a much safer application.
There are many ways to protect from mosquitoes. Use insect repellants first.
Using a company that simply sprays your landscape is temporary and deadly to beneficial insects and the entire ecosystem in your landscape that would normally work to keep down pest insects.
Mosquito spraying of landscapes kills bees and other pollinators and does not keep new mosquitoes from flying in.
Keep in mind that these insecticides are short lived and most of the risk occurs during the application and for an hour or so afterwards.
Rinse fruits and vegetables from the garden thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.
I attached the label from Maxxthor SC . On page 6 about half way down under the heading “ATTENTION”, is a list of what not to spray.
Do not apply to pets, crops, sources of electricity or firewood.
Here is a link to mosquito management with some alternative options for mosquito control. https://extension.colostate.edu/mosquito-management/
Please contact Ask Extension if you have questions or concerns. Thank you.
Thanks for the answer... we will stop the service completely and see if we have mosquito problem again.
I tell them not to spray any blooming plants to protect my bees and I have many bees in my yard but I take your point and will go natural solution.
Please clarify the immediate question though. If some residual drift got on their plants at this early time - way before anything is even in bloom or ready to harvest - and we don't have any more applications, will their plants and produce be ok or should they replant?
Thanks for that clarificatiin.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
-------- Original message --------
Date: 6/3/21 10:30 AM (GMT-07:00)
Subject: Re: Safety of Mosquito spray near veggie garden... (#0023488)
Hi Chris - We are working on finding an answer for you. Stay tuned!
Colorado Master Gardener Annette
The label information of Maxxthor SC says two seemingly conflicting assertions: that it should not be applied to crops, but also that once dry it is safe. There are three points that you could make to your neighbor. 1) The product was not applied directly to the vegetable plants, 2) drift would have been very slight given that the company uses safe application practices, and 3) the food plants are likely a month or two from harvest. It is possible the plants were not yet in bloom either.
I live near a canal and we do get near-dusk mosquitos especially when it has been rainy or we've watered the lawn. Once or twice over the years we've applied an insecticide just to the grassy areas near our patio when we were having a party. Now that I've learned more about the effect on pollinators we no longer do that, and instead use personal bug spray/candle/etc. when we have to be outside.
I hope this helps, and that you can reassure your neighbors. You are to be applauded for your willingness to listen and modify your practices.
Colorado Master Gardener Annette