MASSQuito Coalition

This proposed legislation (SD.1202/HD.2383 in the 2021-22 state legislative session), filed by Rep. Tami Gouveia, Sen. Adam Hinds, replaces the Commonwealth’s outdated and expensive mosquito management system with one that is more effective, affordable, transparent, ecologically responsible, and scientifically based.

Click here to learn more about this bill and to contact your legislators in support.

This Task force [info about task force]. See details on previous and upcoming meetings, here. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to attend.

Mosquito season comes back with the warmth, and even though spraying of pesticides to control adult mosquitoes is the least effective and most environmentally damaging method to control mosquito diseases, we’re about to be blanketed with toxic pesticides… If you want to reduce your families and your local ecosystem’s exposure to these toxins, there is an option to “opt-out” from spraying carried out by the Commonwealth. However, there are also some important caveats…

Anyone in Massachusetts can request to be excluded from wide area applications of pesticides through the Dept. of Agriculture (renters must have the permission of their landlord). When someone fills out the form found on the below page, it goes directly to the mosquito control project that services that town and that property will be excluded.

*How to request exclusion from wide area pesticide applications: http://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-request-exclusion-from-wide-area-pesticide-applications

IMPORTANT NOTE: Exclusion requests must be filed EACH CALENDAR YEAR.

Note also that excluded properties should be marked with signage saying “No Spray” as outlined on the above-linked page.

HOWEVER (BIG ONE)… when a public health hazard is declared by the Department of Public Health (which is very likely to happen) and emergency spraying needs to take place,  those exclusions are not honored during the time that is set forth in the DPH declaration, unless the property is a certified organic farm.

If someone has filled out this form, they should be notified if/when spraying occurs (so at least people can take some precautions)…

About organic farms:

The Department reaches out to the certified organic farms at the beginning of the season to gather information relative to their location so that if an emergency application does take place they have their information to include in their mapping. *If someone is in the process of being certified organic with Bay State Organic or another certifier, they are also eligible to be excluded from wide area pesticide applications, even under emergency declaration.* Those who are in the process of becoming certified or were recently certified should fill out the exclusion form and contact MDAR directly to confirm that they will be excluded as an organic operation.

*How to request exclusion from wide area pesticide applications: http://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-request-exclusion-from-wide-area-pest…

Please see the state’s “FAQ” on Exclusions from Wide Area Pesticide Applications, here:

http://www.mass.gov/doc/exclusions-from-pesticide-applications-faq/download

Important: If/when you “opt-out” for your property, be sure to also notify your local town/city officials (ie. Conservation Commission, Board of Selectman, Town/City Council, Board of Health, Mayor, etc) and let them know why. The more residents they hear from about opting out, the more likely they will support an alternative municipal mosquito disease management strategy.

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The blanket spraying of synthetic pesticides is a threat to the integrity of insect biodiversity and ecosystem health that our farms and gardens rely upon. It also raises serious health concerns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These chemicals are known to elevate risk factors to our immune and respiratory systems. Not only that, but even even according to the national Centers for Disease Control and US Environmental Protection Agency, spraying of pesticides to control adult mosquitoes is the least effective, and most environmentally damaging method to control mosquito diseases.

Did you know?

*Products containing synthetic pyrethroids are not natural, they are synthetic chemical formulations that also contain other or “inert” ingredients. Neither Massachusetts agencies nor the Environmental Protection Agency test the health or environmental impacts of mixtures of active and inert chemical ingredients.

*Sumithrin, a pesticide often used to control mosquitoes, can result in lung irritation, and has been documented to cause asthmatic responses in those exposed.

*Piperonyl-butoxide, a synergist intended to magnify the toxicity of synthetic pyrethroids, has not been tested in combination with these active ingredients, and is considered a possible human carcinogen by the EPA.

*Did you hear?! Our coalition partners at PEER recently exposed the fact that the pesticide the state uses in its mosquito spraying program has been found to contain PFAS, a group of highly toxic chemicals…

(references for the above three points, respectively):

Donley, Nathan. 2016. Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails. Center for Biological Diversity. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/pesticides_reduction/pdfs/…

National Pesticide Information Center. 2020. Sumithrin. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/dphentech.html#references

EPA. 2018. Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential. http://npic.orst.edu/chemicals_evaluated.pdf

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“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of toxins!”

Mosquito Prevention Tip #1: Seek out and drain all standing water on your property at least once a week to interrupt breeding cycles.

For more ways to control mosquitoes in a proactive and ecological way, please see this blog post from the Xerces Society: http://www.xerces.org/blog/managing-mosquitos-common-sense-solutions

When one thinks of summertime in New England, thoughts turn to beaches, barbecues, mountains, and, unfortunately, mosquitoes.

The current system is flawed. In order to more effectively protect the public health and environment, we urge that communities consider this option and the other recommendations outlined below as they prepare for town meeting votes. Learn More

Mass Audubon receives many inquiries about mosquitoes and mosquito control practices. We provide answers to the most common questions on mosquitoes, their associated health risk, control methods, and environmental impacts of mosquito control activities. Learn More

(re-posted from Jones River Watershed Association)

Although we all hate mosquitoes – their nasty biting and ability to transmit serious disease – we must consider the best, eco-friendly and people-friendly methods of control. Below are some steps we use, in addition to requesting exclusion from wide-area pesticides application by the state of Massachusetts.

DUMP OUT STAGNANT WATER

You’ll be amazed at how many aggravating insects are reduced by the simple act of yard policing. Monitor bird baths, forgotten buckets, little puddles, clogged gutters, and other out-of-the-way breeding areas provided by we, the people.

FISH FRIENDS

© Duane Raver/dnr.sc.gov

For larger areas in your control that can’t simply be dumped out, such as a fish pond: add more fish! They love to eat mosquito larvae, and can’t get enough of them.

The American eels’ population needs our help to restore – baby eels can out-compete any fish in our rivers and streams to control mosquito larvae numbers!

BTI DUNKS

If not fish, BTI (bacillus thuringiensis, strain israelensis) Mosquito Dunks” or “Mosquito Bits” are used to specifically target and kill off mosquito larvae when inserted into standing water.

However, it is not without impacts as it may also affect dragonfly populations. Dragonfly nymphs, or naiads, feed on mosquito larvae, while adult dragonflies feed on adult mosquitoes.

GARLIC SPRAY

If you live near woods or wetlands like we do, one of our favorite and effective products is “Mosquito Barrier,” a garlic spray applied throughout your yard.

Pine goes out every couple of weeks at dusk with a backpack sprayer, making the yard smell like garlic and drastically reducing the troublesome mosquitoes.

RED CEDAR SPRAY

Red cedar spray is another very effective product for collapsing the mosquito and tick population; sprayed throughout the yard once a month or so in the warm seasons, preferably before rain.

Red cedar oil is relatively expensive, but well worth it – the red cedar oil from Texas is the greatest!

BUG REPELLENT

Wear bug repellent when outdoors. This protects you and saves the environment from unwitting errors.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/15/metro/epa-finds-toxic-compounds-mosquito-spray-used-mass-maker-will-change-packaging/

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/12/01/metro/toxic-forever-chemicals-found-pesticide-used-millions-mass-acres-when-spraying-mosquitos/

https://cen.acs.org/environment/persistent-pollutants/PFAS-found-mosquito-spray-used/98/i47

https://www.ecowatch.com/pfas-aerial-pesticides-649108690.html

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063726787

https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/mosquito/documents/citizensHealthEffectsMosqP.pdf