According to the CDC, as of August 10, 2021, this year has seen 27 confirmed and probable neuroinvasive West Nile Virus cases (that’s the more serious type) and 13 non-neuroinvasive cases.
How many of those were in Pennsylvania? Zero.
We’re saying this so you’ll know that there is no health basis for spraying to kill mosquitoes here, compared to the damage done by spraying millions of pounds of poison nationwide and killing bees and other useful pollinators and causing neurological damage in people–ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s–and disproportionately harming minority communities–and spending money we need for real problems such as Covid spiraling out of control again in many parts of the country.
Besides, we know that when an insecticide is applied in one area, whether or not it reduces the target pest insect population, others of the same species quickly flow in to fill any gap in population, whereas desirable insects like bees and dragonflies reproduce much less quickly and may not have population reserves waiting next door.
The map below shows the incidence of neuroinvasive cases to date by county. The closest counties to us with such cases are in Iowa and Arkansas! (The black area on the map south of us represents Chesapeake Bay and coastal and inland waters; the gray areas show that Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina don’t report by county, but those states had no neuroinvasive cases to report.)
As of 10/2/20 (after the end of the serious mosquito season), 8 WNV cases has been reported in PA in 2020 (none in Chester County), according to PA Dept. of Health, “2020 WNV Collection and Testing Status” (download under “Previous Year Surveillance Results”). The 2019 PA total was 2 (1 in Chester County).
According to the CDC, as of July 13, in 2021 the entire country has had 11 presumed WNV cases and one death (in Arkansas).
Meanwhile, “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 5,172 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania last year, a jump of 16% from 4,444 in 2019” (WHYY).
And much worse, in 2020-21 to date, PA Covid cases totaled 1,220,671 with 27,827 deaths.
Mosquitoes may be unpleasant, especially if we wish to enjoy the outdoors in shorts and T-shorts, but in the scale of things, they are not a problem of health or life and death in Chester County, and public resources should be marshaled to deal with genuine emergencies like overdoses and Covid.
“Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides” on June 17, 2021, brought together knowledgeable panelists to speak to local issues concerning the use of pesticides and the alternatives that may exist. Panelists included Emma Horst-Martz with PennPIRG, Kara Rubio of Women for a Healthy Environment, and Drew Toher with Beyond Pesticides. The discussion was moderated by Professor Cheryl Wanko of West Chester University. View the full discussion at the WCU Office of Sustainability.
Sponsored by the WCU Office of Sustainability, West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environment Alliance.
by Alexa Manning at West Chester Green Team rally, June 12, 2021 (for prospective spray locations, see here)
Recently, it has come to our attention that the PA Dept of Agriculture plans to spray the active ingredient Bifenthrin (product name Talstar Professional Insecticide) for the spotted lantern fly (SLF) on thirteen locations in Chester County.
Bifenthrin is a broad-spectrum pyrethroid insecticide that kills insects indiscriminately, including beneficial insects such as bees and other pollinators. This pesticide was registered for use by the EPA in 1985, is in more than 600 products in the U.S. and is classified by the EPA as a possible carcinogen. It interferes with the nervous system of insects that eat it, touch it, or breathe it in. Bifenthrin binds to the soil and has the potential to contaminate surface waters through runoff. It is highly toxic to insects and aquatic organisms such as fish and arthropods. Though toxicity is lower to birds and mammals exposed directly to it, there are potential risks if they eat aquatic organisms because bifenthrin can accumulate in fish and last a long time in the environment.
Information provided to us from the PA Dept of Ag states that they and the USDA continue to support research into biological and other control methods for the SLF. They follow the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) using cultural, mechanical, biologic and targeted chemical treatment techniques available including implementing a quarantine to limit SLF spread, the use of traps, reduction of the favorite host Tree of Heaven, and application of a systemic insecticide to it. These efforts have slowed the spread of the SLF since it was discovered in Berks County in 2014; however, since then the SLF range has expanded significantly.
The decision was made to add this new contact spray into the IPM program this year. Spraying will occur between June and October on properties exhibiting a high risk of enabling long-distance spread of the insect and tend to be on habitats that are highly degraded such as near rail hubs, airports, and industrial centers, with the permission of the property owner/land manager. No set treatment dates are established yet. People listed on the Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and beekeepers will be notified in advance of spraying.
With the assistance of state representatives and their staff we are waiting to obtain more information from the Dept of Ag about the following questions about this spraying program.
• How far in advance will individuals on the Pesticide Hypersensitivity registry be notified? Will the public be notified in advance?
• What is the notification process and responsibilities of local, county, and state government and private property owners to the public regarding the spraying schedule in advance, at the time, and afterwards?
• Will public signs be posted and what are the other ways notification will take place?
• Who is paying for the spraying?
• Where and how were these specific locations identified and decided upon?
• Where else in PA is the spraying program happening?
• Is there a public comment period?
• What is the current research that states that a pesticide (and this specific one) will be effective in stopping the spread of SLF? If so, where and when did the research and any trials take place?
• If the spraying is targeted to specific locations, how will the effects be monitored and analyzed and for what length of time?
• Have the public and environmental health effects of spraying bifenthrin as well any other pesticides been documented and reported?
• In municipal locations, are schools and public property such as parks and open space affected? Which municipalities have approved this spraying?
These are some of the questions that need to be addressed by the government. Other concerns are welcome.
I would like to share that I am listed on the PA Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry for health reasons. The law requires the people on the registry are to be notified by government and private entities of pesticide applications within 500 feet of one’s property at least one day in advance. In April 2020 we had the unfortunate experience when our entire property (we don’t use pesticides or fertilizers and grown organic plants for food and pollinators) was broadcast sprayed with a chemical mixture of pesticides and fertilizers by a chemical lawn service company. The employee who sprayed did not check the address and did not confirm with the customer next door where this service was contracted. I was not notified by the company in advance of the next-door neighbor’s spraying. Any of these measures could have prevented this from happening.
After I contacted the company and the Dept of Ag, the region Field Pesticide officer contacted me and investigated this incident. We received compensation from the company to rebuild vegetable raised beds, and some of the impacted treated soil in our pollinator gardens. There is the concern that there is pesticide residue in the soil. We would like to have a yard where what we grow and eat is healthy and safe. I hope this never happens again.
Since March, I have received 40 notifications from several chemical lawn treatment companies that regularly service residential properties near us. Unfortunately, there are other companies who have not notified me as is required by law. Then I follow up with them and the Dept of Ag.
Another concern is that companies who apply pesticides are not required by the state to post a sign that an area has been treated. This is only a courtesy. There are many times that I have walked near or on a border of a property that was recently sprayed as was the case when I walked across our front lawn the day we were sprayed in error. This is concerning for everyone, especially people on the registry, children and pets on public parks and private properties. This is the least that we can do: signs need to be posted on public property in advance with the time of application, the name of the pesticide and/or fertilizer, and when it is safe to go on the area.
Pennsylvania needs to allow local and country governments the right to enact and enforce ordinances and regulations to ban or restrict the use of pesticides and fertilizers. State preemption is antithetical to local rule and denies citizens their rights for the public good. This applies to many other issues.
These issues need to be addressed. Please contact your state representatives and the PA Dept of Agriculture now for answers to concerns about SLF spraying, notifications and related issues that prevent local and county governments from making direct decisions.
There are many harmful environmental and health concerns regarding the ubiquitous use of pesticides and fertilizers on land, air, and water in residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial locations. Since the 1950s their use is widespread and commonplace with tremendous ramifications to our health and safety. There are safe, proven alternatives and many resources available. This is a critical environmental issue that affects all of us. We need to take appropriate actions to protect our health and safety. Thank you for concern and for your advocacy.
From PennEnvironment, 6/3/21:
Want to spend your summer building skills that will help you launch your career in activism, working on urgent issues you care about like stopping plastic pollution and reducing bee-killing pesticides?
PennEnvironment has officially launched their door-to-door canvass office this week. They will be going door-to-door engaging with thousands of PA residents about stopping the use of bee-killing pesticides and gathering thousands of petitions urging Amazon to stop selling bee-killing neonic pesticides. It’s going to take all hands on deck, so if you’re interested fill out a lead form below for a paid summer campaign position!
Summer Campaign Job Opportunities: Full Time positions available $10-$15/ hour, Monday-Friday
Find out more and apply at www.summerjobsthatmatter.org
The Fund for the Public Interest is seeking hard-working individuals with a passion for social change to fill citizen outreach and Field Manager positions across the country (including in Philadelphia) this summer. We are hiring full-time positions. As canvassing requires face-to-face interaction with the canvassing team and members of the public, getting vaccinated and following our safety protocols are essential functions of the job and are therefore required for all staff.
Find out more about the campaign to Ask Amazon to stop selling bee killing neonic pesticides
Bifenthrin is a pyrethroid insecticide (thus in the same family as permethrin) which kills many insects (and of course it can’t tell the difference between spotted lantern flies or mosquitoes and bees and butterflies), toxic to fish, banned for agricultural use in the European Union.
And now our own state government is spraying it around us. The Department of Agriculture’s May 28 release begins:
“As Spotted Lanternflies hatch across much of the state, PA Department of Agriculture crews have begun to spray an insecticide that kills the insects on contact along railways, interstates and other transportation rights-of-way. Contact spraying is a new element of strategic efforts to slow the spread of the invasive pest, which moves primarily by hitching a ride on vehicles traveling out of infested areas….”
Well, good luck with that. It’s intriguing to picture the spotted lantern fly hordes lining up along route 30 to hitch a ride to the central part of the state. But how will spraying at the verge of a highway affect any SLFs that have already stowed away in the underneath and under-the-hood areas of trucks?
According to state law, people on the Hypersensitivity Registry list must receive advance notification of spraying within 500 feet of the residential, school, or employment locations they indicate. It’s hard to see how the law can be complied with in spraying at the side of a road, especially when the sprayer won’t tell us where they are spraying. Suppose a hypersensitive driver pulls over to change a tire or take a break?
And we have also learned that 13 non-highway locations in Chester County will be sprayed. For whatever reason, the Department of Agriculture has not chosen to publicly mention this aspect of its spraying program and does not publicly identify these locations. But here they are, so act accordingly:
L F Lambert Spawn Co Inc. 1507 Valley Rd., Coatesville
Lampart Limited Partnership, 1021 Charles St., Coatesville
Keehn Service Real Estate Limited, 99 Eleventh Ave., Coatesville
Old Coop, 1189 Old Schuylkill Rd., East Coventry
September Farm Cheese, 5287 Horseshoe Pike, Honey Brook
LCM-Mar Enterprises Llc, 749 Norway Rd., Kennett
Kennett Square Borough, 120 Marshall St., Kennett Square
New Garden Township, 1235 Newark Rd., New Garden
Shainline John J & Phyliss, E 800 Township Line Rd., Phoenixville
Clementine Realty, 35 Industrial Blvd., Tredyffrin
2480 LLC, 45 W Industrial Blvd., Tredyffrin
Pacer Industries Inc., 14 Laurel St., Valley
Codepeco Assoc, 1220 Wilson Dr., West Goshen
A New Hampshire activist named Ted Jankowski has been making the case against indiscriminate use of chemicals that can affect both people and the environment.
In an article that someone mistitled “Portsmouth should ban harmful GMOs” (Seacoastonline.com, June 16, 2016), he showed the dangers of Bifenthrin (newly relevant here, as the PA Department of Agriculture is now spreading it around Chester County in a no doubt futile attempt to control spotted lantern fly) and Roundup (which continues its swath of destruction notwithstanding numerous court judgments against its maker Bayer).
And he also showed that the City of Portsmouth was breaking NH state law about advance warning about the use of pesticides and herbicides. It’s hard not to think the same here, as the PA Department of Agriculture is not publicly disclosing where it is spraying Bifenthrin–so how can hypersensitive people (entitled to prior notice of spraying by PA state law) and others avoid exposure?
Read Ted Jankowski’s full article at Seacoastonline.com.
West Chester Borough residents request free larvicide here. Other municipalities: please do similarly to help cut down on mosquito populations without harming other species.
In May 2019, West Chester Borough officially adopted a well-conceived mosquito abatement plan relying on controlling stagnant water and larviciding where needed. The text can be downloaded here in official form and also is copied below:
Regarding the spread of disease, such as West Nile Virus, through mosquitos, the Borough of West Chester has tasked the Public Works Department to implement the following action plan which replaces all other mosquito/West Nile Virus plans:
• The attainment of Larvicide Applicator Certification by at least two Public Works employees.
• Continue to store adequate quantity of dunks at its facility to be made available to Borough residents at their request.
• Elimination of all sumps from existing inlets inspected and found to facilitate ponding.
• Re-double its efforts to keep inlets clean and clear of debris that might inhibit proper drainage.
• Establish GIS mapping of current low-lying areas that are deemed susceptible to water ponding.
• Identify locations within the Borough that are potential “hot spots” for mosquito breeding for additional investigation by the Public Works Department.
• All activities must be consistently coordinated in concert with Chester County Health Department (CCHD) protocol.
• Constant communication must be kept with the CCHD as this will further enable the Public Works Department to be pro-active with on-going responses, by their ability to provide more detailed inspection and identification of potential breeding grounds.
• Direct residents who observe standing water on properties to call Building, Housing & Code Enforcement at 610-696-1773.
Updated May 9, 2021. Short version: dump standing water; larvicide water that can’t be dumped.
But that photo shows mosquito larvae, which don’t bite.
Right, but once larvae hatch, they are harder to control. One female mosquito, with a protein infusion from blood, lays 100+ eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, which fly away as adults in a few days. Continue reading