Recently, in the Lafayette parish, our local government carried out an aerial spraying of mosquitoes as mosquitoes are believed to have entered the parish. They assured the public that the impact on butterflies, bees, and other insects would be minimal. My garden is proof that they were wrong. The effects were dramatic.
I’m not an environmental activist, just a home mom and a gardener with two kids who are naturally curious about the world around them. As soon as they could walk, they wanted to learn about bugs, lizards, birds, and all the creatures they encounter in their yard and in their neighborhood. I wanted to teach them so I planted a butterfly garden with nectar and host plants. My kids and I started growing different types of butterflies so we could watch them transform from caterpillars to butterflies. Over the years I got to know all the many insects in our garden and their vital importance for our ecosystem. Everything depends on them, including our food supplies.
After airborne spraying in Lafayette, the insect population in my garden dropped dramatically. I admit it’s nice to go outside without being coated in insect repellent, but it’s not worth sacrificing all the other insects. My garden is usually full of butterflies and bees in October. I have only had one butterfly of any kind in my garden since spraying. I usually have a dozen species a day. Monarchs emigrate to Mexico and I’ve only seen one. The Gulf mother-of-pearl butterfly is by far the most common and not a single one has survived. My six-year-old son found a dead man and carried him to me. I can only imagine the havoc that has been inflicted on the insect population in our community.
The insecticide used only targets adult mosquitoes. Nothing was used to kill mosquito larvae in stagnant water. This means that the population will explode again in a few weeks. And this time without enough predators to keep the population in check. I know we need ways to reduce mosquitoes, but there are better ways. We didn’t have a choice. There was nothing I could do to protect my property from the insecticide. We weren’t even told the correct day to keep ourselves and our pets safe.
Every day I walk through my garden for a few moments of peace and happiness in a crazy world. I now realize that it was not the flowers that gave me pleasure, but the visitors that would attract the flowers. Now I am waiting to see when the visitors return.