Mosquito control: A taxpayer’s perspective:

This post by Rebecca Holmes of Salisbury appeared at Front Porch Forum today.


As someone who pays taxes to both my town and the state, I have two priorities when it comes to local mosquito control: (1) I want the most effective, safest mosquito control method to be applied as widely as possible. (2) I also want ALL my money spent on the control method that best reduces mosquito populations. The organization currently making the choices as to what’s used, where, and thus how our money is spent is the Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen, Pittsford Insect Control District (BLSGP), and they appear to be driven more by the past than the present.

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Malathion and Endangered Species

This post by Brian Carter of Salisbury appeared today on Front Porch Forum.

This post is to bring more information to the discussion about the mosquito spray program, particularly the use of malathion, in Salisbury.

I live on Morgan Road and part of my property has been placed in a conservation easement to protect a unique concentration of salamanders. Four species, as well as frogs, spend the winter on this easement and migrate across the road in spring. This has become an event that attracts many people on a few designated nights each year to count and help move the amphibians across the road and out of any traffic.

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New study of pesticides and autism

Last week a new scientific article was published about the relationship between pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in California. The study confirmed that prenatal or infant exposure to pesticides, including malathion and permethrin, increased the likelihood of developing autism spectrum disorder in childhood. Malathion and permethrin are the two pesticides sprayed along roads to kill adult mosquitoes in the BLSG Insect Control District. The article was published in the BMJ, a peer-reviewed journal of the British Medical Association.

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Larvae or Adults

The BLSG Insect Control District operates two different mosquito control programs. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture funds a program to apply bacterial larvicide granules from the air to kill mosquito larvae in standing water. The five towns in the BLSG district fund a program to apply chemical pesticides along roads to kill adult mosquitoes.

The differences between the two methods of controlling mosquitoes are dramatic. Discussions about the effectiveness or safety of BLSG operations should specify which program is being discussed. The table below highlights some of the differences (click for better view).

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Methoprene and vernal pools

Thursday’s Rutland Herald article by Will Mathis, Director of Operations of the BLSG Insect Control District, focused on the larvicide program. Although the article was titled “Mosquito spraying program explained,” no mention was made of malathion or permethrin which are sprayed along town roads to kill adult mosquitoes. Instead, the article focused on the program to treat standing water to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch.

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Permethrin factsheet

The BLSG Insect Control District sprays pesticides along town roads to kill adult mosquitoes. The most recent public notice from the District identifies the pesticides as “malathion or synthetic pyrethroid insecticides.” Permethrin is the most commonly used synthetic pyrethroid. It is considered to be much less toxic to humans than malathion, and is sometimes less effective for controlling mosquitoes.

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EPA’s guidance for reducing exposure to malathion

There is a lot of information available about the pesticides used in the BLSG Insect Control District. The most recent public notice from the District identifies the pesticides as “malathion or synthetic pyrethroid insecticides.” On the EPA’s mosquito control website, the page about malathion suggests that “people who are especially concerned may choose to take some of these steps to help reduce exposure”:

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