Letter: Organic doesn’t mean harmless 

September 14, 2023

Thank you to Wilson Kerr for his important opinion piece: “Time Outdoors: Bee informed about yard pesticides.” I encourage everyone to read it (available online if you no longer have your paper copy).  

We are in a biodiversity crisis on Earth and all of us can contribute to solutions. How we treat the small patch of earth which has been entrusted to our care matters greatly. Chemically treated lawns are biodiversity dead-zones. I see a lot of signs around town advertising ‘organic pest control.’ While things like essential oils may be safer for humans, if they are designed to kill beings in your lawn, they harm somewhat indiscriminately, and can still be problematic for our friends like monarch butterflies. I am reminded of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics: “I don’t mind spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, please!” 

I don’t mind a mosquito bite, or even picking a tick off me, but leave me the butterflies and a balanced ecosystem, please. Convention and esthetics can evolve as we learn more about the consequences of our actions. When I see a ‘messy’ yard filled with native plants, I think how beautiful it is to be thoughtful and kind to our non-human co-travelers on this planet. Our fates are intertwined. Native Plant Trust in Framingham is a great resource for non-sprayed plants which belong here. It is satisfying to see a native plant buzzing with bees happily going about their business as they have for millennia. It’s a moment of wonder to see a monarch caterpillar crawling on a milkweed plant, filling up before their stunning transformation to butterfly. It’s horrible to see them take one bite of a pesticide-laced plant and then succumb to a slow death, which can happen even from an organic essential oil.     

Erin Sharaf  

Old Bedford Road