Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mosquitoes v. the World

It started innocently enough, as it always does on the chat list. A friend and neighbor asked if anyone had ever used a service by Mosquito Squad to spray and reduce mosquitoes in their backyard. As an aside, Carderock appears to be where all the mosquitoes like to hang in Bethesda -- something about all the trees, natural landscaping, and nearby creeks, makes it a natural breeding ground. And these vampire mosquitoes are early risers, sucking blood 24-7, whether you are going for a jog at 6 am or enjoying an evening walk as the sun sets. So back to the question at hand.

A few neighbors posted sympathetic responses about the mosquito woes and asked to be included in the group request for a discount. Then..... the naturalists emerged and joined the chat, a breed perhaps even more dominant than the mosquitoes in our 'hood. You know, the ones that have more than one type of compost pile, use a hand-pushed mower, and recycle like its a religion. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

50 emails or more later, the debate had been crystallized. Either you are a selfish mosquito-hater who chooses personal comfort over saving mother earth or you are a good neighbor, declining to spray pyrethoids (or something like that) in order to save all the crickets, butterflies, the Chesapeake bay, and let's face it, the world.

Some helpful suggestions for alternatives were thrown out along the way. My favorite was installing a bat house in your backyard. Apparently bats eat up to 600 bugs an hour. Great, I thought, although there is no way my kids would go in the backyard with bats flying all around them, no matter how great a reduction in the mosquitoes. Seriously, bat bite vs. mosquito bite? Not even a choice.

But the bigger question raised by this debate is when is my bizness my neighbor's bizness? The original poster did not ask to survey everyone's opinions on the safety of the service, just whether it worked or not. But the neighborhood treated it like it was up for a democratic vote, and the OP's choice could be vetoed by the naysayers. At least this time the tone of the discussion stayed somewhat friendly. But remember village, if you wouldn't feel comfortable walking over and talking to your neighbor directly about their bizness, doing it by email doesn't make it any better. At least, that's my opinion.

Now I am going to go kill me some mosquitoes the old fashioned way -- one slap at a time.