Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 31 October 2018

MOSQUITOES, HEALTH, & INSECTICIDES

Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?

Widely used mosquito repellent proves lethal to larval salamanders,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, October 31, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Chemical Defense
“Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and West Nile virus.”

Natural Defense
“Salamanders provide natural mosquito control. During their aquatic juvenile phase, they forage on mosquito larvae, keeping populations of these nuisance insects in check.”

The Two Don’t Mix
“Chemicals in repellents enter aquatic ecosystems through sewage effluent and are now common in surface waters.”

More Skeeters?
“The paper is the first to suggest that environmentally realistic concentrations of picaridin-containing repellents in surface waters may increase the abundance of adult mosquitoes due to a decrease in predation pressure on mosquitoes at the larval stages.”

Testing the two most popular repellents
“...tested the effects of two of the most widely used insect repellents - DEET (Repel 100 Insect Repellent) and picaridin (Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent) - on larval salamanders and mosquitoes. In a lab, they exposed mosquito larvae and just-hatched spotted salamander larvae to three environmentally relevant concentrations of these chemicals, as well as a control treatment.”

Skeeters OK
“Mosquito larvae were not impacted by any of the treatments and matured unhindered. After four days of exposure to repellent with picaridin, salamanders in all of the treatment groups began to display signs of impaired development such as tail deformities. By day 25, 45-65% of picaridin-exposed salamander larvae died.”

Salamanders Screwed
"Our findings demonstrate that larval salamanders suffer severe mortality and developmental deformities when exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of commercially available repellent containing the active ingredient picaridin."

Results may underestimate the problem
“Lethal in a controlled setting, picaridin may cause greater mortality in a natural context, where organisms are exposed to numerous stressors.”

Timing Key
"The amount of repellents entering waterways peaks seasonally. If amphibians are exposed during a sensitive life stage, entire cohorts could perish. The population would not have a chance to recover until the following year. Meanwhile, mosquitoes would continue to reproduce. It suggests a negative feedback loop."

Picaridin Increases Mosquitoes & their Diseases?
"The effects of repellents containing DEET and picaridin need to be studied further to determine the extent to which these chemicals disrupt aquatic ecosystems and potentially increase mosquito-borne disease risk worldwide."

 

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mosquito eating salamanders killed by picaridin repellent

 

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