Skip to content

mosquito trucks, ddt clouds, and me

southern people of a certain age will identify with this, for sure.

when i was a kid, living in a fairly swampy area of north florida, mosquito control was a big deal. in the county i grew up in (citrus), it was probably the main reason to have a government at all, other than keeping the jail open.

mosquito control consisted of a truck that prowled all the county streets and roads on a regular basis. the truck had a tank and a compressor or something, and it spewed a voluminous white fog that would spread through the neighborhood and ostensibly kill all of the mosquitoes. you could hear it coming from quite a distance, so you had fair warning of when it was headed your way.

and the kids in the neighborhood (me included) would hear the truck, and run out into the yard to await its arrival. when it came, we’d run behind the truck for blocks, playing tag and running in the dense fog, running and breathing deeply and heavily until we were bone tired and quit from exhaustion.

geez, louise. had we lost our minds?

or, more accurately, i suppose, have we now lost our minds?

and where were our parents during all this? did not one of them have the sense to tell us not to play in the fog?


so i was telling this story to kirk this morning, and i got to thinking about it. so i did what anyone would do.

i googled.

and by googling i found out that the thick fog in the late ’60s was ddt, and that louisiana still has to tell people not to run behind the truck, and that errol morris shows the mosquito truck in his movie called vernon, florida.

and i also found out that by googling mosquito truck ddt you can read about an entire generation of people who ran behind the mosquito truck like i did.

i hope that kids today are smarter than we were. i think they are.

and i think that, unlike us, they may stay that way. i think i killed a lot of brain cells over the years, running behind that truck. not to mention what all else might still happen in the future.

ddt. ddt. wow.


  1. tympani smith

    don’t be breathing no ddt

    Posted on 25-Aug-06 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Linda

    I was born in Wilson, NC in 1964 and remember (smiling) how the mosquito truck would pass through our neighborhood and all the kids would scream with joy and watch it pass. What an awful smell, but the white cloud was almost mesmerizing. It was a wondrous thing and we all just HAD to see it. It’s one of the strongest memories from my childhood, along with floating paper boats down the street curbing/gutter after a rain, and playing shuffleboard in the driveway. It was just a part of growing up.

    Posted on 27-Sep-09 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  3. thanks for stopping by and sharing. hope you survived the fog with few to no ill effects : )

    Posted on 28-Sep-09 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Kimmie

    I would like to hear from people who have suffered the side effects of DDT … liver disease for one… lung weakness for another.
    I grew up in Savannah, Georgia… and my mother always made sure to send us out into the fog… it was all “good” fun!

    Posted on 01-Jan-10 at 9:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Margie

    I grew up in Jacksonville Beach Florida, ran behind the truck like so many others and last week was diagnosed with PBC, a liver disease.

    Posted on 12-Jul-10 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  6. james

    everyone chased those trucks and there were no harmful effects because ddt is safe. dont believe the hype

    Posted on 22-Feb-11 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  7. brenda

    I was one of the kids who ran behind the mosquito truck in the fog…seems like it had a sweet smell to it. I have just started to research health issues caused by it. So far I only see liver disease and weak lungs….guess I’ll learn more as I google.

    Posted on 02-Aug-11 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I was one of the ones that ran behind the truck every single day in one of the oil compounds in South America. I’m 49 and besides being in the best shape of my life, I do not suffer from anything. I’m in pretty good health…

    Posted on 23-Sep-13 at 6:57 am | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *