Marking Insect Prevention with Street Art

Every other month, our friendly pest control man pays us a visit. He shakes out granulated bait in areas where the ants tend to accumulate, then puts on his backpack-style spray gear. He sprays the circumference of the house, about three feet up from the foundation. It appears wet like water and dries shortly after application. Sometimes I wish he was actually painting the house.

The West Nile virus spread quickly after arriving in California in 2003. In 2005, San Francisco started treating more than 23,000 city storm drains for mosquitoes. Most of this treatment by pest control company Pestec is done by hand; its eight member team get around on bike or foot. A team member rides down a street, stopping at every storm drain. He picks up a small white plaster brick filled with methoprene with tongs and drops in down through the grate. Rather than killing adult mosquitoes, methoprene works like a reproductive hormone, stopping egg-laying and development. This pesticide has minimal effects on land animals, being used around livestock, as well as grain, corn, and peanut crops. The treatments appear to be working, as only a few birds and humans have contracted the virus since treatments began.

After a drain is treated, a dot is spray-painted on the curb near the drain. This signifies that the drain has been treated in the last 100 days, covering the previous dot with another color. Some of the paint dots are brightly colored clusters, while others are dots in a line. Wary residents sometimes question a guy on a bike toting spray paint cans, wondering about his intentions. Many of the pest control team members are visual or musical artists, including graffiti artists. While these dots along the streets have a practical purpose, they are also the work of artists.
Placzek, Jessica. “These Colorful Dots Will Save Your Life.” News. KQED, 6 Apr 2017. Web. 9 Apr 2017.

Leave a Reply


Be sure to include your first and last name.

If you don't have one, no problem! Just leave this blank.