Letter, Opinion

Mosquito district work in Salisbury costly, ineffective

Dear Editor,

In January, the Salisbury selectboard voted unanimously to separate Salisbury’s payment to the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen-Pittsford Insect Control District (BLSG) into Article 11 on the town meeting ballot. On Election Day, Tuesday, March 3 (Super Tuesday), voters in Salisbury will decide whether to pay $26,371 to BLSG or to receive no mosquito control services. Although there are no new services being offered, BLSG is charging Salisbury 51% more than it did in 2018 ($17,434).

While BLSG’s services are sharply increasing in cost, they are decreasing in value. For example, aerial application of bacterial larvicides throughout the 7,000 acres of lowland breeding grounds is the safest and most effective way to control mosquitoes. This program is funded solely by the state. However…

1. In recent years the cost of helicopter application of larvicides has increased substantially, and…

2. BLSG has expanded by adding towns (Pittsford and soon Proctor) with extensive mosquito breeding areas that require larvicide treatment.

3. Unfortunately, state funds for larviciding have not increased for years.

So BLSG can no longer afford to apply larvicides throughout the district. Salisbury has had no aerial larvicide treatment for two years and there will not be enough money to treat in the spring of 2020.

Consequently, BLSG now depends heavily on roadside spraying of chemical insecticides (malathion and permethrin). This spraying:

1. Is ineffective and intermittent. It kills only some of the mosquitoes that are flying in the spray area (only 150 feet from the truck), only within a few hours of the spraying, and typically happens only two or three times a month.

2. It has no effect on mosquitoes resting on vegetation, mosquitoes that fly into the spray zone a few hours after the truck passes, or new mosquitoes that hatch a few hours after the truck passes.

3. It covers only 5% of the area of the BLSG District.

4. It has some effect only in a few places with tight road grids where multiple nearby roads and private driveways are sprayed.

5. It includes free spraying of private yards at public expense, which is harmful to local pesticide businesses.

6. Unlike the larvicide program, it does not receive state support and is therefore funded solely by the town taxpayers.

7. It exposes Salisbury to health risks. Recent studies conclude that there is no safe level of malathion for pregnant women and young children.

8. It exposes Salisbury to environmental risks. The Vermont Endangered Species Committee is currently reviewing a report about the potential harm to an endangered species of bat from BLSG’s roadside spraying.

9. It violates BLSG’s permit unless earlier steps of integrated pest management, like thorough application of larvicide, have been followed. If BLSG cannot afford to adequately apply safe larvicides, it is technically not allowed to spray toxic insecticides.

10. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, it has no significant effect on mosquito-borne diseases.

I have serious concerns that Salisbury is no longer getting its money’s worth by supporting BLSG’s increasingly expensive, ineffective, and potentially harmful mosquito control efforts. There is more information about these issues at mwwvt.org.

On election day in Salisbury, March 3, I will vote No on Article 11 for paying $26,371.80 to BLSG in 2020.

Chris Fastie,

Salisbury

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