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Common mosquito sprays can have 'harmful' effects on your pets — here's what you need to know

Choosing eco-friendly pest control strategies can protect your health, garden, and the environment.

eco-friendly mosquitoes control, pyrethrins in mosquito repellents

Photo Credit: iStock

To control mosquitoes around your home, many companies offer insecticide sprays. Unfortunately, tons of these sprays contain the chemicals "pyrethrins" or "pyrethroids." 

While these products do kill mosquitoes, pesticides with these chemicals severely impact local environments and can be harmful to people and pets, the National Wildlife Federation reported.

What are pyrethrins?

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, pyrethrins are natural pesticides found in some chrysanthemum flowers, and pyrethroids are longer-lasting synthetic versions. 

These are broad-spectrum insecticides, meaning they work on a wide variety of insects.

Why are pyrethrins a problem?

As the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) explained, pyrethrins kill many beneficial bugs, like bees that pollinate plants, ladybugs that eat plant pests, and dragonflies that eat mosquitoes.

They also kill off harmless and beautiful butterflies. In 2020, Bring Me The News reported that thousands of endangered monarch butterflies died in Minnesota after local officials sprayed for mosquitoes.

These insecticides also affect other wildlife, the NWF reported. Bird populations take a hit because they rely on bugs for food. 

Rain can also wash the chemicals into nearby water sources, killing fish. Furthermore, plants that depend on insects to pollinate them suffer from the lack of bees and butterflies. This includes many popular garden flowers and crops.

Finally, even pets and people can be harmed if they're exposed to a large enough dose of pyrethrins or pyrethroids, the NWF said

Pets may experience vomiting, lethargy, and other symptoms, while humans can suffer from stinging skin, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

What are the alternatives?

Choosing eco-friendly pest control strategies can protect your health, garden, and the environment.

Start by planting species that mosquitoes hate, like lavender, marigolds, bee balm, catmint, scented geraniums, floss flower, and allium. The smells will keep mosquitoes out of your yard while attracting pollinators. 

For cooking herbs that do the same job, try lemongrass, rosemary, basil, mint, or sage.

You can also trade out the broad-spectrum pesticides for a product that specifically targets mosquitoes. 

You could also try mosquito dunks that rely on a bacterium called "BTI" or "Bt" that kills mosquito larvae before they grow into adults. They only target mosquitoes and biting flies, making it safe for other wildlife.

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