I live down on Pumpkin Hollow Road in an apple orchard. On one side of me is a flood-irrigated (emphasis on the "flood") horse pasture and on the other side a large pond.
Behind me is the river — the outer edge of "the big bend," with natural swamping all along the bank. Mosquitoes thrive here. Last year mosquito control came down about once a week, starting in early May, and larvacided this entire area throughout the summer months. They did a stellar job and the mosquito population was blissfully minimal. They never sprayed once.
This year mosquito control didn't put in an appearance until well into June. By then the mosquitoes were already bad news. They larvicided once with short-term product and didn't show back up for three weeks. This pattern of neglect continued throughout the summer, until they just gave up on the half-hearted larviciding altogether and resorted to spraying the pond next door several times a week. (We won't let them spray on our property but apparently our neighbors are all about it.)
I hadn't thought the problem could possibly get any worse. I was naive. Let me tell you what happened then — every time they sprayed the pond the mosquitoes would swarm, en masse, over to our property. They had mutated into ultra-aggressive, dive-bombing insects from hell. They swarmed us, biting us through shirts, jackets and heavy jeans. There was no time of day when they weren't prevalent. I tried five different kinds of natural repellents, all with the same result — when I used them in the high country the mosquitoes circled but never landed on me; when I used them at home it didn't even phase the chemical-resistant mosquitoes. The mosquito-eating frogs and dragonflies disappeared from the outskirts of the pond.
Our gardens suffered because we could not fend off the mosquitoes long enough to tend them. Thankfully I have not gotten West Nile yet, though I can't imagine why not. I have experienced this scenario before — during the malathion-spraying years. My conclusion — spraying does not protect us from West Nile; spraying turns a bad situation into a nightmare.
This isn't about hippie vs. redneck; this isn't about ecologist vs. chemical farmer. This is about the way we, American humans, try to solve our problems. We want the quick fix, the instant gratification. We are programmed to think that chemicals will save us — from insects and disease to anything that we feel threatened by. This is a modern myth, a very dangerous myth that keeps us at war with the earth that sustains us. When we use chemicals to change the natural world to suit us, we are essentially declaring war on ourselves and that is a war that we really don't want to win.
I am asking anyone who has corroborating evidence that supports my assertions about the mosquito spray to come forward and speak out, whether that evidence be scientific data or personal experience. Anyone who is counting on the spray to save them from West Nile is basing their health and possibly their life on an erroneous assumption. We need to bust this myth before the myth busts us.