Do You Remember The Mosquito Truck Foggers?

Real Estate Agent with Falcon Property Company

Mosquito Truck Foggers

DDT truck spraying at the beach

One of my favorite childhood memories from the 1950s and into the 1960s is running behind the DDT truck. My mom would feed us early so we were finished with dinner in time to run after the mosquito trucks as they sprayed our neighborhood several times per week. Sometimes they sprayed every night with a thick and exciting blanket of fog. Similar to waiting for the ice cream truck, we couldn’t wait for the sound of the fogger motors as they rounded the corner to our street.

Kids would ride bikes, skate, and run behind The Mosquito Man, The Skeeter Man, Smokey Joe, Fogger Trucks – so many names. The DDT truck came to our beaches where mosquito populations were high. There was a poster I remember that hung on the wall of our school showing the government spraying school lunch room food to show there was no danger to the children (although I always wondered why the guys who were spraying wore hazmat suits).

Man standing in front of house while fogging truck goes by

It is one of those crazy things you remember when you think of how different times were then. But the world has gotten so “correct” about so many things. In the 1940s, Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his break-through findings on how DDT killed insects. Its use became widespread in the 1950s (80 million tons were used on US farmlands in 1958, and at one point there were 220 million pounds produced in the US in one year). By 1962, malaria, a horrid disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, was eliminated in the US primarily because of the use of DDT.

Was DDT Safe for Humans?

people behind a DDT Truck

In years of use and in countless studies, it was found to be safe for humans, it doesn’t cause birth defects, and there are no serious side effects. (This has been challenged lately.) It has no odor (which I disagree with because I remember loving the smell of it). Called the “Atomic Bomb of Pesticides,” nothing comes close to its ability to kill the mosquitoes that carry malaria and typhus. But in our infinite wisdom, we banned it in 1972. Studies show it can be used heavily to kill off the mosquito population, and then use it sparingly afterwards to keep the pest population down.

mosquito carrying disease

ONE CHILD DIES EVERY 30 SECONDS in Africa, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries because they are not using DDT, which is inexpensive to purchase. In the year 2000, 300 million people had malaria, two million of them died from it, and one million of those were children. An infected bite can take up to four years to affect your kidney and liver. Environmentalists say that it MAY harm eagles. There is not yet proof.

Just a Memory of Running Behind DDT Truck

Be that as it may, this was supposed to be a recollection of a fun childhood memory of running behind the DDT truck, not an opinionated rant. Do any of YOU remember the DDT trucks?

And if you need a terrific real estate agent in the Colorado Springs area, give me a call.

This article was originally published as Running Behind the DDT Truck by Mimi Foster

Comments (7)

Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

No, and  I lived in Minnesota, where the mosquitos doubled at the state bird...Since both of my parents were highly educated when it came to science, anything that smacked of DDT, even then.  There are better ways of getting rid of those varmits these days...A

Jun 23, 2020 02:44 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Mimi - I don't have any memory of mosquito truck foggers from my childhood - though I do recall the sound of ice cream trucks and other deliveries which were definitely a rare treat.  

Jun 23, 2020 03:06 PM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Nope, no DDT trucks in my childhood memory - thank goodness. 

Jun 23, 2020 04:29 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Mimi- I remember the foggers coming. After dinner, we'd play outside but when we heard the foggers coming down the street, we'd race inside!!!

Jun 23, 2020 07:30 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

Yes, I sure do remember them.  I recall they drove through after dark however, and didn't directly spray us.    That's one thing I can tell my grandkids - I survived a time without seat belts, bicycle helmets and mosquito fogger trucks.

Jun 24, 2020 07:55 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Mimi... I have no recollection of such trucks rolling down the streets of New York City when I was growing up. It's always nice to reflect on childhood memories like this one. Like Michael Jacobs I remember the ice cream trucks... and when one rolls down my street now it brings back memories of much more innocent days.

Jun 24, 2020 08:53 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Wow Mimi,  I never try this and now I wonder if I missed out in my childhood but then I grew up in the country.

Jun 27, 2020 06:41 AM