Pesticide shown to cause birth defects scheduled to be sprayed today for large parts of Miami-Dade

Much of Miami-Dade County will get doused with the insecticide naled in a planned flight Thursday to combat an increasing number of mosquitoes.

An aerial flight is planned for 8 p.m., conditions permitting, that will stretch along the coast from the Rickenbacker Causeway south to Homestead. Kendall and areas around Redland and Florida City will also be sprayed, county spokesman Frank Calderone said Wednesday.

The spraying is in response to a growing number of mosquitoes detected in monitoring traps and complaints from residents, he said.

Officials plan to alert residents living in spray zones with phone calls Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon.

The county has used naled to combat nuisance marsh mosquitoes along the coast and near the Everglades for decades despite complaints from environmentalists. The insecticide kills bees, butterflies, bats and other pollinators.

But its use drew more scrutiny during last year’s Zika outbreak when mosquito officials began using it over urban areas to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the virus.

County officials say the doses used in aerial applications, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, are safe for humans. But it is banned in Europe, and critics argue that too little is known for such widespread use. Earlier this month, a study that for the first time looked at impacts from exposure outside the lab or workplace accidents and found babies born to Chinese mothers had a slight delay in motor functions.