All Creatures Great and Small

Legal pesticide issues

This is something that gets very little attention when it comes to applying pesticides and herbicides and you should know about it. We have laws in New Mexico that protect horned lizards and some songbirds. It is NM Statute § 17-2-15 and 17-2-13

2017 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 17 – Game and Fish and Outdoor Recreation
Article 2 – Hunting and Fishing Regulations

17-2-15. [Horned toads; killing, selling or shipping from state unlawful.]

“It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully kill or to sell horned toads within the state of New Mexico, or to ship them from the state. “

17-2-13. Songbirds; trapping, killing or injuring prohibited.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot, ensnare or trap for the purpose of killing or in any other manner to injure or destroy any songbird, or birds whose principal food consists of insects, comprising all the species and varieties of birds represented by the several families of bluebirds, including the western and mountain bluebirds; also bobolinks, catbirds, chickadees, cuckoos, which includes the chaparral bird or roadrunner (Geococcyx novo mexicanus), flickers, flycatchers, grosbeaks, humming birds, kinglets, martins, meadowlarks, nighthawks or bull bats, nuthatches, orioles, robins, shrikes, swallows, swifts, tanagers, titmice, thrushes, vireos, warblers, waxwings, whipporwills [whippoorwills], woodpeckers, wrens, and all other perching birds which feed entirely or chiefly on insects.”

These two statutes are very important.  When someone sprays pesticides around a home or business or in a general outside area, they are endangering many of the songbirds listed above that feed insects.  The birds can eat dead insects killed by the pesticides and it may not kill them, but it will certainly compromise their immune system and can make them unable to reproduce. Herbicides containing Glyphosate, such as Roundup and Ranger Pro, can be deadly to lizards.  It will slow them down and can cause them to dehydrate.  When government organizations spray those herbicides on public property where horned lizards may live, they are destroying horned lizards which are protected under law.  If pesticide applications are made outside of homes or commercial buildings by pest control companies, they can be endangering any songbirds in the area.

Pesticides around buildings should only be applied in cracks and crevices where bugs hide.  That will control the pests and not kill a lot of non-target insects that can be a potential food source for songbirds.

In a recent situation near Conchos Lake in San Miguel County, some aerial applicators were spraying Arsenal and a glyphosate herbicide over the lake to try to kill salt cedar.  On the 4th of July they sprayed over the lake and there were many people out there in boats.  They also sprayed on private farmland in the area and when doing so, sprayed herbicides out of planes over the highway and sprayed a lot of cars that were driving with their windows open.  Many people got sick.  This is being investigated as it appears the company doing the spraying wasn’t properly licensed.  When the NMDA sent an inspector to the area, the inspector was talking to the people who got sick and started laughing and making fun of the situation.  When the people wanted copies of the herbicides used, he said they had to file a FOIA and it would take four to six weeks even though they couldn’t get medical care until the doctors knew what they were exposed to. Someone else called the NMDA main office and they were sent the information immediately.  Not only are pesticides frequently misused in NM, they are very poorly regulated.

Another mass pesticide spraying situation is mosquito control. We have two main groups of mosquitoes that are potentially dangerous.  The mosquitoes in the genus Aedes are known vectors of Dengue fever and Zika. They are normally daytime biters and are most active at dawn and dusk. The genus Culex mosquitoes are vectors of West Nile Virus.  They are normally weak fliers and hang around water areas where they were born.  A few may fly a mile or so, but most do not.  When agencies trap mosquitoes in their breeding area and find some with WNV, they decide they need to spray the nearby city or town with pesticides at night.

What does this do? It kills very few Culex mosquitoes, if any, as most of them are near water areas.  It kills very few Aedes mosquitoes because they are hiding at night and won’t be exposed to the pesticide.  It does kill a lot of beneficial insects such as dragonflies, that feed on mosquitoes and it runs bats out of the area as they don’t want to be exposed to the pesticide. One bat can consume up to 1000 mosquitoes a night and the agency runs them out of town.  Of course it also kills any baby birds in nests and can impact any humans who have chemical sensitivities. So what good does it do?  Well, in reality, it makes your city or town a safe haven for Aedes mosquitoes as they won’t be killed by predators and a safe haven for Culex mosquitoes that may want to come to town for lunch since the bats are out of town.  Most mosquitoes probably jump for joy when they see the government agencies spraying pesticides all over the town.  The pesticides most often used are synthetic pyrethroids, which, as I said above, are very toxic.

 It is clear that pesticides are often used without paying attention to the problems it can cause. As mentioned it will destroy many protected species of birds and lizards and other animals.  It can certainly harm humans.  In one case in California, a Roundup applicator developed cancer from the Roundup and sued Monsanto.  He won the case and was awarded $289 million.  He may never see it as his cancer is terminal and Monsanto appealed the decision.  They will lose, but so will the Roundup applicator. 

 It is my mission to help as many people as I can become knowledgeable about the hazards of pesticides.  I am working with some people on the Conchas Lake situation and I am working with an attorney in Las Cruces who is suing an apartment complex that is infested with roaches and bed bugs.  The pest control company misapplied the pesticides they used and some people are sick.  I am working with them to sue the pest control company as well.

 I think the best way to slow all these misapplications down is with legal action.  Most pest control companies that have you sign a contract, have a clause in the contract saying that you can’t sue them, but have to go to arbitration instead.  Arbitration can cost you a couple of thousand dollars, so if you have to sign a contract, look for that arbitration clause and scratch it out and have the salesperson initial it.  If they won’t do that call a company that doesn’t require contracts.

 I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to contact me if you think you may have some legal pesticide issues or if you just have any pest questions.  My email is






About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…


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