My Struggle with Neighborhood Pesticide Addiction
The following is a story about one nature lover’s struggles with pesticide abuse in her neighborhood. Posted by guest contributor Kate Wells.
Hello, my name is Kate. When my husband and I purchased our home in Georgia three and a half years ago or in 2013, we were ecstatic! Not only did we get a roomy (2100 foot) fixer-upper in a great neighborhood - but we ended up with roughly half an acre of beautiful woods and landscape.
Since I had never had nearly this much landscape before - the prospect of creating gardens and walkways and bird nesting sites was an exciting prospect. So, I started to work away at the land with more plants and trees and flowers and birdhouses Nearly 10 birdfeeders and over 12 nesting boxes and birdhouses. And I never once used an ounce of any pesticides on my property. I pull all of my own weeds - time-consuming but well worth the effort.
It wasn't long before birds came and moved into the homes we designed and built. Every night, bats flew overhead and swooped down on unsuspecting mosquitoes and an assortment of other bug life.
And then suddenly, after a few months of this blissful life with the wildlife - all hell broke loose. The next door neighbor opened up a daycare. And when she did, she hired a weekly mosquito fogging company. The man applying the poison - wore a respirator when applying the chemical. So, how safe could it be? And monthly is one thing, but weekly is horribly taxing to the environment and to birds who are just trying to find a bug to feed their new babies. I felt sick in my stomach.
These same neighbors began using Roundup on every bit of their yard also weekly - and when it rained - the Roundup came flowing over into our yard because we live downhill. And once every summer, these neighbors had their house sprayed with an unusually high amount of super toxic pesticides to rid them of spiders and anything else that might get near them. All, the while, not one thought was given to the environment or neighbors or about what they were doing to so many small living creatures that live below, beside and above them.
After these sprays and especially the house coat pesticides were applied - as I helplessly watched, my sweet birds, jumped through the freshly tossed poison liquid on the ground in their yard and came back to die in mine. It wasn't long before I began to see birds ( about 25 a year) who could no longer eat, or drink water or fly. They fell off of feeders and perches to the ground, where a chipmunk scooped them up and dragged them away to eat them. Hawks have also been affected because they will grab up weakened animals and also eat them.
So, to be helpful and loving, and so as not to cause a fight - I began printing out alternatives and helpful information about how to do things organically and naturally. Sadly, these neighbors were having none of it and they would crumple the pages I had printed and threw them back down in my yard. When I found the pages a few days later - I was stunned. Why wouldn't they want to take care of life? Needless to say - I felt puzzled.
So, what did I do next? I reached out again - and I tried to talk to them about things- and when I did - they just stared at me. The neighbors began to spread rumors about me in the neighborhood about how I was telling them what they could not do...when this was the furthest thing from the truth. I just wanted to share facts. After the gossip - I became known as the weird wildlife and nature woman. Oh, well...good to take a stand for something and it is okay that they feel that way.
I did try to talk to them once more - I let them know that I cared about them as well as the wildlife - and they told me the pesticide companies assured them that the sprays were safe. I asked them - how could a person working for those companies who is a high school graduate possibly be an expert on pesticide chemical makeup and compounds? And I also told them - that the "pesticide companies want your business and they will tell you anything..."
Well, more rumors were spread about me after that about interfering with these people's rights. And I have to say - I know when I am beaten. Sadly, when the majority of people don't have enough sense to see what damage is caused by pesticide use, well, what can I do? It was then that I realized that most people just want the easy way in life - even if it kills everything in its path.
Over time - strain developed between these neighbors and us...because instead of maybe listening a little and trying to understand I was only trying to help- they showed me they did not really care and they were going to have their way - and so we stayed away from them. We quit speaking.
It is important to say that these are not the only neighbors doing this to the environment. All of our surrounding neighbors are spraying for mosquitoes monthly and all use Roundup weekly and a heavy poisoning every summer. Right at the time when birds nest and bats fly overhead.
So, I began to protect what was on my side - in my yard. To combat these dangerous cancer causing chemicals in our yard - yes that is what they are (all pesticides have been shown to cause cancer in lab rats and subsequently in humans) - I began to spray the edge of our own property down with heavy water to keep the poisons out of the yard and air. Water does thin the poison down a little. And it seems to have helped wildlife a little. I am not so concerned about my own health with this issue - we all have things happen in life and my main goal is to help protect the wildlife so that humans will have a future.
In closing, I want to say - that I don't understand people now. It seems that the more affluent they are - and the more money they have - the more they want to be free of the presence of animals and insects that annoy them. They want perfect lawns and no bird poop on their block walls. They want their children to never get bitten by a mosquito - so, they keep them in a bug free bubble. Inadvertently, all of these people are killing more than just mosquitoes. They are killing all bug species - chemicals do not know how to not affect everything because they don't know how to tell one bug from another. They can't tell the difference between a mosquito or a bee or a butterfly. And when bugs die - birds will soon follow and a domino effect will occur with all species of life - until it reaches the level of humans.
This is all I ever wanted to share...because it is based on truth and the knowledge that life is a sequence of living creatures and a continual food chain. If we disrupt the food chain just a little - all life can be thrown into an alternate and very unpleasant existence. Still, if you ask the pest companies , they can sell someone a imaginary world where the chemicals they are using go after one thing only. So, my question is - How is anything like this possible - when all life is interconnected?