Unwitting Targets - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1913431

Unwitting Targets

Did you know that herbicides and pesticides sold to kill insects and weeds on your property are harmful to soil, plants and animals? Some pesticides can linger in soil for years or decades after they are applied. Many studies have shown the effects on soil organisms that range from increased mortality to reduced reproduction, growth, cellular functions and even overall species diversity.

In addition, they impact humans and have been associated with short- and long-term effects linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, disruption of the body’s reproductive, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems, as well as malignant melanoma.

The sad truth is that non-target organisms can be adversely affected by these chemicals, while the targeted insects repeatedly exposed to insecticides build up resistance until, finally, they have little or no effect.

What is even more shocking is research also shows that less than 1 percent of the pesticides and herbicides applied for weed and pest control reach the targets. A large quantity is lost via spray drift, off-target deposition, runoff and photodegradation, which affect wavelengths found in sunlight, visible light and ultraviolet light

As an individual, you can help by stopping or reducing the use of pesticides on your property and considering alternatives. Look for natural ways to feed your lawn. Add back clover, which up till the 1970s was used in grass seed mixture to provide nitrogen to your grass to keep it healthy naturally; top dress with a good organic soil and compost, and use natural fertilizer like fish emulsion. Add native plants that support insects that are beneficial to and diversify your landscape, as well as those that repel pests like mosquitoes. (Citronella Grass-Cymbopogon nardus, Catnip-Nepeta cataria, and Marigolds-Tagetes spp. are a few.) Promote native predators like bats, dragonflies and birds.

With these few steps, your outdoor environment, family, friends and the creatures that inhabit your property will be healthier and safer.

For further information check out our website, westhamptongardenclub.com; The Great Healthy Yard Project at tghyp.com, the Perfect Earth Project at perfectearthproject.org, and Cornell Cooperative Extension at ccesuffolk.org.

Melissa Morgan Nelson


Westhampton Garden Club

Nelson is also a member of the club’s Conservation Committee — Ed.