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Is the mist safe for my family and pets?
Have you ever heard the expression “the danger is in the dose?” It basically means that any material can be harmful if someone is exposed to enough of it. Obviously, for humans, “enough of it” is different for water than for cyanide.
Since it depends on the dose, we can’t categorically state that pyrethrins or permethrin are safe in a misting systems, here is what we know and can say:
- You’ll find them in a wide range of products around your home – in pet shampoos, flea sprays and household aerosols.
- Pyrethrins and permethrin are among the least poisonous insecticides to mammals because they are readily broken down into inactive products and pass from the body.
- In misting, the typical field concentration is very low – usually around 5 – 10 parts pyrethrin or permethrin per 10,000 parts mist.
- In 2007, the US Environmental Protection Agency wrote on their webpage about misting, that they do not expect risks of concerns to humans when the formulations are used according to their label.
Having said all that, you need to be careful when using pyrethrins in misting systems. People and pets should avoid the mist. And, cycles should be programmed so that the units don’t mist while people are likely to be exposed.
For more information, see these Active Ingredients Safety Fact Sheets
For which pests is the system effective?
Natural pyrethrins and pyrethroids are considered to be “broad spectrum” insecticides, meaning they are poisonous to a wide variety of insects. However, in misting systems, they are usually dosed with very low concentrations of active ingredients. This low concentration means that the mist is really only effective when it is in the air and comes into direct contact with smaller insects – mosquitoes, gnats, no see ‘ems, houseflies and spiders and wasps. And while the mist may annoy larger insects – like horseflies – or insects with hard shells – like ticks or roaches – it doesn’t pack enough punch to kill them.
How does it affect bees and butterflies?
Pyrethrins and permethrin are poisonous and potentially harmful to “beneficial insects” like bees and butterflies. However, this usually does not present an issue since the units are typically programmed to mist around dusk and dawn and not in the middle of the day when the beneficials are present and active.
Can I use it on my boat dock?
If you want to use a “conventional” formulation containing natural pyrethrins or permethrin, you probably can’t. These active ingredients are highly poisonous to fish and other aquatic invertebrates like frogs and lizards. And even though the concentrations of the active ingredients as they are dosed in a misting system will probably not harm fish, you’ll see language on the formulation labels that restricts their use around bodies of water – streams, rivers, ponds, lakes. To comply with the law, you must follow the label instructions explicitly.
You may be able to use a “green” formulation around your dock. To learn more about both conventional and green formulations, read Understanding mosquito misting formulations.
Will the mist kill my koi?
While pyrethrins and permethrin are highly toxic to fish, the concentrations of these ingredients in the mist is very small. A little mist from a nearby nozzle that might drift over and settle in the pond is dramatically further diluted by the water in the pond. Our recommendation is to avoid placing a nozzle within about 10 feet of a koi pond and to point them in a direction away from the pond.
Is it safe to use around my vegetable garden or fruit trees?
Both pyrethrins and permethrin have the appropriate tolerance for direct application on fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see food handling and processing applications listed on the label. Our recommendation is to not spray directly on the garden or fruit tree – since the intent is to control mosquitoes and not plant pests – and to always wash the food prior to consuming.