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Daily News Archive
From May 24, 2001

Use of Insecticides for Mosquito Control Barred in Midwestern Wildlife Refuges

According to national wildlife refuge managers, requests to treat wildlife refuges in the Midwest to control mosquitoes will be denied in order to preserve the biological integrity of the lands, except in cases of imminent threats to human health. "Mosquitoes may be an annoyance, particularly in wet years. But they are a part of the natural environment and a food source for a variety of other animals," said Jim Leach, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge supervisor who oversees National Wildlife Refuge activities in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. "More importantly, the insecticides currently used to control mosquitoes can have a devastating impact on other insects, particularly aquatic insects, which are utilized by fish, amphibians and aquatic birds like ducklings as important food sources."

Midwestern refuge policies do not allow the use of mosquito treatments on refuge lands except in cases involving threats to human health, such as the transmission of a mosquito borne illness. Refuge managers do cooperate with local mosquito control authorities to monitor mosquito populations on refuge lands.

Managers also take on the annual chore of removing old tires, barrels and other debris deposited on refuge lands by high spring water levels and runoff from adjacent private lands. Such debris may serve as artificial breeding sites for certain mosquito species, many of which are potential carriers of human diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus.

Homeowners need to follow suit and remove all potential mosquito breeding sites from their property. Even a water-filled bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding site. People should drain and remove all containers holding collected rainwater such as cans, buckets, garbage cans and lids, potted plant containers and old tires, as well as turn over unused wading pools. It is also a good idea to change the water in containers for birds, pets and other wildlife every four days, and clean rain gutters.