Stop The Spray - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2007705

Stop The Spray

On July 27, Vector Control of Suffolk County initiated robocalls to residents of East Quogue to inform them that the village area south of the highway was going to be sprayed for mosquitoes the following morning.

This, apparently, is the procedure being followed by the county before it sprays a highly toxic insecticide, called Anvil, in residential areas. It was the first such spraying in the Town of Southampton since 2009, at the height of the panic over the potential spread of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

If nothing else, this exposes a woefully inadequate warning system on the part of our local government.

First, not everyone received the notice — only residents who still maintain a landline. But, more importantly, less than 24 hours’ notice was given, which obviously provides no real time for homeowners to complain or prepare for their properties to be doused with a known toxin.

How is this reasonable or fair to the many homeowners in the affected neighborhoods who are strongly committed to avoiding the use of pesticides on their properties, or those who have organic vegetable gardens? With proper advance warning, homeowners would have been able to request not to have the pesticide sprayed on their properties, but the current limited warning system makes that virtually impossible.

It also exposes the shortsightedness of our current approach to mosquito control. The insecticide Anvil not only kills mosquitoes but also bees, butterflies, other pollinating insects and the birds that eat them. It is so harmful to marine life that the streets close to the water were not sprayed, small comfort given how little we know about the potential contamination of our waterways from spraying a few blocks removed.

Aside from the county mosquito control spraying, many pollinators are wiped out by the often-ineffectual spraying for ticks by pest control specialists. The insects that survive forage for long distances to find nectar and pollen in an environment with few native flowering plants. Think about it: A very typical East End landscape consists of privet, boxwood and hydrangeas, hardly a pollinator buffet.

Recent research about the state of monarch butterflies has discovered that there’s a 75 to 95 percent decline in their populations. Lack of habitat and the spraying of insecticides and herbicides are major contributors to this decline. The East End of Long Island is on the monarchs’ flight path. 

Some practical steps you can take in your own yard to fight mosquitoes without harming pollinators: use mosquito dunks, safe and effective tablets put in standing water to kill mosquito larvae; remove standing water; use a non-toxic mosquito spray.

By taking responsibility for your own property, you’ll reduce the population of annoying mosquitoes without toxic pesticides.

Marissa Bridge

Alicia Whitaker

Conservation Committee

Westhampton Garden Club