Recently my friend called me asking for Betty’s help. There was an email exchange on her neighborhood listserv about a neighbor who was asking for recommendations on how to get rid of mosquitoes this summer and a couple folks encouraged her to use the local mosquito control companies that use insectides. She is a bird and bee lover, like Betty, so we wanted to help.

First of all, it’s understandable that folks would seek a solution for mosquito bites with the growing concern folks have of contracting life-changing, if not life-threatening diseases like tick-borne illnesses, west nile virus, and zika virus.

But do we really want to be blanketing our backyards (and in some cases parks and public spaces) with harmful insecticides? The biting beasts can certainly turn a backyard barbecue into a chorus of hand-slapping, which is annoying. And of course we don’t want our kids, families, and pets to become infected with a serious illness.

For those of us concerned about our feathered friends and all-important bees, it’s good to think twice about using these harmful chemicals. There are many preventative measures and alternatives you can choose to do instead of continual spraying of insectides.

First, the facts. We found a great fact sheet:

Here is a fact sheet from the National Pesticide Information Center on Bifenthrin

The bottom line for wildlife?

Can bifenthrin affect birds, fish, or other wildlife?

Bifenthrin is low in toxicity to birds. There are potential risks for birds and mammals that eat aquatic organisms because bifenthrin can last in a long time in the environment and it may accumulate in fish.

Bifenthrin is highly toxic to fish and small aquatic organisms. It’s also very highly toxic to bees.

And here is information on pyrethrins, a commonly used ingredient in insecticides:

So here’s what we recommend:

  1. Educate yourself and your friends on these products. Ask for the MSDS sheet (the material safety data sheet) and do some investigative research. As it seems we keeping getting new lawn care folks in my neighborhood, this is the first thing I do. And talk to your friends and neighbors about alternatives.
  2. Before you go the chemical route, take preventative measures by ridding your yard of all standing water (mosquito breeding ground). You can also plant species like lavendar, marigolds, and basil that mosquitoes don’t like.
  3. Try an alternative to spraying first. Mosquito Squad does offer a solution that is all-natural and essential-oil based. There are also many creative ideas on the web including like this one from
  4. If you are not convinced of the safety and ecological risks and decide to go ahead and spray, do it for one or two occasions, but not on a regular basis.

In 2014 this conundrum came up for our neighbors to the North, Loudoun County, where the parks department was considering spraying due to lyme disease concerns. Due to an outpouring of concerned citizens they voted to NOT spray their parks. Here is the article from the Washington Post.

Here’s another article you might be interested in from the Environmental Health News – I always like to plug my friend Pete Myers organization when I can

Pyrethroids raise concerns

We hope this helps your neighbors decide the right thing to do for themselves, their family, and at the same time the ecology. Because about one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination, we all have a vested interest in keeping the bees healthy.

All the best,




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5 Things You Can Do After You March

by Betty on April 29, 2017

Teri at the March for Science in Washington D.C. Teri at the March for Science in Washington D.C. on April 22, 2017

If you went to the Science March last weekend or today’s Climate March in D.C. or attended a local march, there is plenty to do in the wake of the positive collective energy that is gathering!

1. Make Your Voice Heard! Wield your phone eco-warrior by calling your local, state, and federal representatives and let them know that you care about clean air, clean water, and clean energy. Let them know that you didn’t vote to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Power Plan!

  • Go to  or in
  • Virginia call: Dial 202-224-3121 to reach all 3 who represent you in Congress in D.C.
  • The local numbers are even better: Senator Mark Warner (804) 775-2314, Senator Tim Kaine (804) 771-2221, Congressman Tom Garrett (434) 973-9631. I call on my lunch hour or when I’m off work before 5:30pm.

Also, a friend told me about Daily Action, where I get text notifications on a daily basis about actions I can take to make a difference and get active! I love it. I don’t always call, but that’s ok. I call when I can. You can too.
2. Take a Small, but Meaningful Action in Your Daily Life Now! Maybe you will opt out of sales receipts from now on, maybe you will refuse plastic and bring your own bag, or you’ll remember your mug when you visit your favorite coffee or smoothie shop. Maybe you’ll reduce your burger intake. Don’t discount these small acts. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love” is something Mother Teresa said. For ideas big and small, check out our BWB Home Menu of Taking Action. If made for busy folks like you!

3. Give Time, Treasure, or Talent to an Environmental Organization Near You! There are plenty of important organizations out there working on the front lines locally including Better World Betty. Others we love: LEAP (the local energy alliance), Rivanna Conservation Alliance, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Appalachian Voices, Virginia Green, Wild Virginia, and bigger ones like the Environmental Working Group and the National Resource Defense Council.

4. Take a Big, Meaningful Action! Go solar on your home, ditch one of your vehicles, get a green job, go vegetarian, or run for office. The tide is shifting. We can support each other in these transformations. Gather the positive energy from the collective energy you were a part of and be inspired to change your world.

5. Pray! I am inspired by the deep connection to the Earth expressed by leader Tom GoldTooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network who spoke at the Bioneers Conference in 2013. “Our sacred responsibility is to safeguard and protect this world. Human beings are not separate from the natural world but were created to live in an integral relationship with it. We can fashion sustainable solutions and re-sacralize our relationship to Mother Earth.” At today’s Climate March he said we can take action with prayer.

With big Betty love,

More photos of the Climate March and Science March can be found on Betty’s Facebook Page

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3 Steps to Eco Friendly Hosting

April 13, 2017

Having a dinner party or Memorial Day BBQ? Concerned about how to be an Earth conscious host? Betty has a few tips to keep your event clean and green! Download the PDF guide

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Celebrate Earth Week in Charlottesville

April 13, 2017

Earth Week is a week long celebration leading up to Earth Day, which happens each year on April 22nd. In Charlottesville, there are many April activities and events focused on celebrating, exploring and defending, the Earth. Check out what’s coming up. UVA Earth Week Events by UVA Sustainability 4/17 – 4/23 Mon 4/17: UVA Farmers Market from […]

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On Valentine’s Day Show Your Love for the Planet

February 7, 2017

As with many other holidays in the United States, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays where we tend to spend money on stuff. Cards, flowers, candies and gifts. We often share a message about buying and consuming less stuff, and we believe you should show appreciation of your significant other or loved ones every […]

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A Green App a Day Keeps the Greenhouse Gasses Away!

March 17, 2016

For those of you who weren’t able to join us at Firefly for yummy green appetizers and some favorite apps, here is a list of some of our favorite FREE apps! Light Bulb Finder I loved this app when we switched our candle-style bulbs from ancient incandescents to the latests LEDs (super savings!).  It will ask […]

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Betty’s Sweet 16! 16 tips for 2016

February 9, 2016

16 Tips for 2016 FOOD 1. Join a CSA to get farm fresh local food! 2. Lower your cookprint: use the right size burner for pots and be sure to cover them. 3. Waste less food. Go to to find creative recipes to use up just about anything that’s about to go bad! 4. […]

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What about broken stuff that I don’t want to send to the landfill, Betty?

December 13, 2015

November’s Repair Cafe at the IX building was a grand success.  Fixin’ not ditchin’ items was the theme! 80+ people brought their bikes, clothing, old vacuums, electronics, etc to be repaired.  Betty was there helping folks know where to take stuff locally so that it doesn’t end up in the landfill. We’ve published a list […]

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Lighting Made Simple

October 22, 2015

This article is part of a series on the theme of Simplifying which have been published in Echo Magazine in Charlottesville, VA. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and unfortunately this may mean our wallets are getting lighter due to our electric bill! Indoor lighting can account for up to 25% of your […]

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Get Cash for your Clutter!

September 5, 2015

This column appeared in Echo Magazine September 2015 This year we have been focusing on how to create less stuff, more simplicity, so that you can enjoy a more hassle free life. But we know people like their “stuff!” If it’s hard for you to part with your high school track trophy, the boom box […]

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