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.
(1) The science is clear and the BLSGP board affirms it: Applying larvicide is absolutely the safest, most effective method of controlling mosquitoes. Larvicide is a bacillus that kills mosquitoes before they hatch out and reproduce. It is not generally harmful to people or other wildlife.
(2) The chemical being sprayed along our roadsides from trucks is primarily permethrin; another is malathion. They are not particularly effective and they are harmful. Look them up! Malathion is toxic to all the insects it encounters, and dangerous to wildlife, infants, and pets. It has been shown to be a major factor in some species extinctions (Fish and Wildlife study, 2019); it has been implicated in prostate cancer in midwestern farmers, and, most recently, autism in children. It is effective for only about 200 feet in from the spray truck (barring wind) and settles completely in 2 – 3 hours – in other words, it’s not particularly effective, but cheaper. Permethrin is highly toxic to fish.
Obviously, taxpayers’ money should be primarily spent on larvicide. But it’s not.
The state gives the BLSGP nothing for the chemicals and $70,000 a year for larvicide applications, which is nowhere near enough. In addition, the BLSGP collects about $157,000 from its towns, which is spent mostly on chemical spraying. Asked about this, they say it’s historical. Using that excuse, we’d still use arsenic to cure asthma!
In summary, we have a mosquito district which spends our money spraying minimally effective, potentially dangerous toxic chemicals along our public roadways (and on request on private property, too) instead of applying safe, more effective larvicides where mosquitoes breed.
If this makes no sense to you, speak or write to your Select Board and suggest they dedicate their BLSGP contribution to larvicide application in their next budget.