Ants, wasps and fleas—oh my!

A recent pesticide poisoning incident at a Coos Bay day care reminds us of how dangerous mistakes can happen. A day care employee reportedly sprayed a flea pesticide designed for use in barns. A number of children and employees were sickened. It is hard to say what the long-term effects may be. The state’s Pesticide Analytic Response Center is investigating.

We understand the dilemma: No child care provider wants to send preschoolers home with flea bites. Sending them home with a notice of an infestation isn’t great for business, either. So, a safe and fast-acting pesticide seems like a great idea.

Unfortunately, simply spraying once with the most convenient sprays is not only potentially dangerous, it won’t solve the problem in the long run. What’s more, products with very different toxic properties are sold right alongside one another.

Neonicotinoids are just one example. A few years ago, a landscaping company accidentally killed 50,000 bees by using this type of pesticide improperly.

Nobody likes stings and itches, ruined gardens, or bugs taking over the house. But accidental pesticide exposure, especially for kids, can have health consequences that last a lifetime.

So: how can you avoid regrettable mistakes?

Save the bees: Check out this Pacific Northwest publication for a list of pesticides that are most- and least-toxic to pollinators. This, and many other resources for gardeners, is available at the Xerces Society web site.

Save the cash: After you determine the least toxic pesticide for dealing with your pest problems, follow the application directions on the label. You won’t make your problems go away faster when you use more than recommended, or in higher concentrations—but you will be sending your money down the storm drain along with all those excess pesticides.

Save the kids: With help from the Centers for Disease Control and our friends at Environmental Working Group, OEC put together some tips and tricks for protecting your kids from bug bites and stings while avoiding the most hazardous repellant ingredients. It’s part of our green camping checklist, which also includes handy information about sunscreen!

Save the trouble: This short guide and checklist will help you make choices at home to prevent pests before they start. It’s based on “Integrated Pest Management” – a proven strategy. OEC helped pass legislation a few years ago to ensure that schools are using the same strategy to control pests and reduce pesticide use.

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