By Nancy Black
I followed the directions exactly as written. I shook the can vigorously. I cleared all our pets from the yard. And then I moved my outstretched arm in a big, sweeping motion from left to right, as instructed. Less than two minutes later, they were dead. No, not the mosquitoes I was trying to repel. The bees in my yard. They were dead — as doornails — and it was all my fault.
I didn’t mean to kill them. I love bees! But there they were, lying motionless on our patio table, poisoned by pesticides I had administered. Mosquitoes and roaches; those are the only bugs/insects I kill. I’m the type of person who gently captures spiders inside our house and transports them to a new location outside. I’m also a mosquito magnet. I could bathe in a tub full of OFF and still get eaten alive by those West Nile Virus-carrying suckers. My solution is to surround myself on our deck with citronella plants and an ever-handy bottle of OFF.
As I mentioned, I normally buy OFF, as it is the insect repellant product I grew up using. When I was at a big home improvement store recently, though, they were out of OFF. Instead, there was a huge section of CUTTER products available for purchase. I figured, what the heck, all mosquito sprays are created equal, right? So, I bought the yard and deck version of the spray and headed home.
That is when the insect-genocide began. With that one swoop of my arm, every crawling or flying bug in our yard was wiped off the planet. I’ve used the yard version of OFF for the past 40 years, and nothing like this has ever happened.
I don’t usually out products by name in my editorials but, this time, I feel compelled to share this news — CUTTER Backyard Bug Control Spray kills bees. It also kills any and everything in its misty path. Upon careful scrutiny of the CUTTER label, the product does, indeed, say that it will kill not only bees and butterflies, but pretty much every other living creature within a 100-foot range of the spray. And, gosh forbid, any runoff gets into a waterway or stream. The results are also hazardous to all fish and wildlife the pesticide touches. Yikes!
After my bee bereavement period was over, I decided to research alternative solutions to a newly discovered problem around our home. I was filling our bird feeder one night and happened upon a huge colony of roaches scattering around in the discarded seed shells on the ground. After I screamed and ran inside, a quick Google search led me to diatomaceous earth. “Dia what?”
I soon discovered at RichSoil.com that Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is “an off-white talc-like powder, which is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants, roaches or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky.”
Gross, I know. But, DE doesn’t hurt mammals. Humans even eat it — on purpose! It is found in a number of grain-based foods.
Why, then, would we, as consumers, buy chemically-laden products when we can use natural and simpler ways of killing pests, which are cheaper and much more effective to use, plus they don’t kill the entire environment? I’ll have to investigate the matter further.
In the meantime, though, I’m going au natural in my garden. Well, as far as pest control goes, that is. True “au natural,” a la Adam and Eve, doesn’t work so well for us mosquito magnets!