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Extreme Gardening to Help Tackle Malaria

A team experimenting with natural ways to get rid of mosquitoes — and subsequently malaria — in African villages has found that simply removing flowers from a common shrub killed off biting female mosquitoes, which are responsible for spreading malaria, BBC reports. In areas where mosquito-attracting plants were removed, mosquito populations dropped by 60 percent. The team believes the mosquitoes died by starving to death.

This is a great example of how nature trumps chemical concoctions if you just work with nature rather than fighting it, especially when it comes to mosquitoes. Right now the U.S. is busy spraying naled organophosphate insecticide over Florida and elsewhere in an attempt to control the Zika virus — a move that is decimating bee populations. Naled also is linked with shortened pregnancies, lowered IQ and increased risk of ADD.

New York and California are using pyrethroid pesticides to combat Zika-carrying mosquitoes; ingredients are known endocrine disruptors with neurotoxic and potentially carcinogenic properties, and may be harmful to the fetal brain. Aside from the fact it’s been shown that it’s not the Zika virus alone causing microcephaly in infants — with pesticides the major suspect — biological warfare just doesn’t work. It’s a risky game that keeps upping the ante requiring more and stronger chemicals, with results that only harm the Earth.

In the short term, there are safer options to guard against mosquitos than aerial insecticides and topical DEET. But we also need to take a much wider view. What's needed is the political and societal will to make necessary changes — like removing mosquito-attracting plants and other things like standing water — and fully embracing ecologically sound, regenerative methods of agriculture. Why? Because when nature is in balance, pests fail to gain the upper hand. They still exist, but they're kept in check naturally.
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