‘Don’t Spray Me!’ holds rally in West Chester

by Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 8/28/17

WEST CHESTER >> With a goal of eliminating chemical spraying for mosquitoes by local municipalities, more than two dozen activists rallied Saturday at the historic courthouse.

Several children were involved. They donned gas masks and held signs reading, “Don’t kill our bees and butterflies,” and “Sprayed pesticides harm pollination.”

The grassroots group, “Don’t Spray Me!” began in the borough three summers ago.

“We had a town meeting when we heard that they were going to spray,” state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, said. “People said ‘No.’ What can we do to avoid spraying?”

Comitta was mayor at the time and said that from those first steps, a West Nile task force committee was created in West Chester. For whatever reason, since the task force was formed, there has been no spraying for mosquitoes in West Chester….

read more at Daily Local News
Grassroots organization “Don’t Spray Me!” rallied at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester Saturday. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

Grassroots organization “Don’t Spray Me!” rallied at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester Saturday. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

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Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Phoenixville Borough to prevent West Nile Virus

[DSM needs citizen help in observing Health Department procedures and the results of spraying (which in general we oppose). Anyone in this spray area, please try to let us know:

• The release says “After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies…” Do you know of other such strategies to date, such as working with the municipal government to educate residents, larviciding suspect bodies of standing water, or alerting property owners whose properties may be violating the Health Department’s regulation against allowing mosquitoes to breed in standing water?
• Are adequate warnings posted well in advance so residents and visitors will know to stay out of the way of the spray and take protective measures?
• Did you observe people who were not aware of the recommended precautions?
• Is there a lead truck with a loud speaker in front of the spray truck warning people to stay indoors or leave the vicinity?
• Does the truck spray more than once in any street or on any area? Does it crisscross any area, thus delivering a double dose to some addresses?
• Is the spray shut off as the truck approaches a stream or body of water and if so, how many feet away?
• After spraying, what difference do you notice in the number of mosquitoes and other insects such as honey bees and dragonflies?
• Did you notice any effect, either immediate or after a few days, on children, cats, frogs, birds, or bats?
• How long does it take for the adult mosquito population to get back to about what it was before?

DSM needs you to help protect people and the environment and to let public officials know what you think.]

press release, Chester County Health Department, 8/29/17

West Chester, PA – The Chester County Health Department, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Phoenixville Borough (map of treatment area). The treatment is scheduled for Thursday, August 31st from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm. The rain/makeup date for this event is Tuesday, September 5th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm.

Ph'ville spray area 8:31:17

The Chester County Health Department conducts mosquito control treatment in areas with high levels of mosquito activity and where multiple mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies, spraying is conducted to reduce residents’ risk of WNV infection. Anyone living in an area where mosquitoes are infected with WNV is at risk, but the risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious illness. While serious illness can occur in people of any age, people over 60 years of age, people who have received organ transplants, and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at the greatest risk for serious illness.

The Chester County Health Department will use PA DEP equipment – a silver Ford Ranger affixed with the PA DEP logo and BU# BU2626 – to conduct the spray. A truck-mounted sprayer will apply 1.0 ounces of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product (Biomist 3+15) per acre of land. A white GMC truck affixed with the Chester County Health Department logo with BU# BU1901 will be the lead truck. The mosquito control spray becomes inactive in just a few hours or with sunshine. Sprays are conducted after sunset, when mosquitoes are most active and bees have returned to their hives. Sprayers are turned off near bodies of water and apiaries to protect aquatic life and bees. The Chester County Health Department also notifies registered beekeepers and residents who are listed as hypersensitive in a designated spray area prior to conducting a spray. People who are concerned about exposure to mosquito control products can reduce their potential for exposure by staying indoors with children and pets when their neighborhood is being sprayed. If you would like to take extra precautions after the spray is completed, you can rinse off outdoor furniture or playground equipment before use.

Although spraying helps to reduce mosquito populations, the Chester County Health Department encourages residents to “Make You and Your Home a Bite-Free Zone” to prevent WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases….

[Standard Health Department advice follows, as in earlier releases.]

Don’t Spray Me / Sierra Club Demonstration against spraying

When: Saturday, August 26, at noon–right after the peace vigil

Where: Chester County Court House, High and Market Sts, West Chester

Who: All of us with State Rep. Carolyn Comitta and others addressing us

Why: The Chesco Health Department has produced no evidence that spraying reduces West Nile disease and we know it can kill bees and fish and harm people but still they are spraying anyhow! Costs are high, benefits lacking.

Latest municipalities targeted for spraying: Downingtown and East Caln, Thursday Aug. 24. If you live there, please see here and see if you can help us on the needed observations.

Next communities to be sprayed: who knows?

Educate and larvicide but Don’t Spray Us!

Please come and bring friends and relatives, and a sign if you can.

Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Downingtown Borough and East Caln Township to prevent West Nile Virus

[DSM note: This is not what we want to happen. The sprayers cite no evidence that spraying pesticides in the air impacts the incidence of West Nile Virus (of which there has been one known human case in PA so far this year). This large residential and business area in the center of Downingtown contains many dwellings and bodies of water. Anyone in that area, please try to observe and let us know:

• Are adequate warning posted well in advance so residents and visitors will know to stay out of the way of the spray and take protective measures?
• Did you observe people who were not aware of the recommended precautions?
• Is there a vehicle with a loud speaker in front of the spray truck warning people to stay indoors or leave the vicinity?
• Does the truck spray more than once in any street or on any area?
• Is the spray shut off as the truck approaches a stream or body of water and if so, how many feet away?
• After spraying, what difference do you notice in the number of mosquitoes and other insects such as honey bees and dragonflies?
• Did you notice any effect, either immediate or after a few days, on children, cats, frogs, birds, or bats?
• How long does it take for the adult mosquito population to get back to about what it was before?

DSM wants to help protect people and the environment but we can’t do it without volunteers on the ground to observe and let public officials know what you think.]

Press release, Chester County Health Dept., 7/22/17

West Chester, PA – The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Downingtown Borough and East Caln Township (map of treatment area).

The treatment is scheduled for Thursday, August 24th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm. The rain date for this event is Monday, August 28th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm.

The Chester County Health Department conducts mosquito control treatment in areas with high levels of mosquito activity and where multiple mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies, spraying is conducted to reduce residents’ risk of WNV infection. Anyone living in an area where mosquitoes are infected with WNV is at risk, but the risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious illness. While serious illness can occur in people of any age, people over 60 years of age, people who have received organ transplants, and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at the greatest risk for serious illness.

The Chester County Health Department uses a truck-mounted sprayer to apply 1.5 ounces of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product (DeltaGard) per acre of land. The mosquito control spray becomes inactive in just a few hours or with sunshine. Sprays are conducted after sunset, when mosquitoes are most active and bees have returned to their hives. Sprayers are turned off near bodies of water and apiaries to protect aquatic life and bees. The Chester County Health Department also notifies registered beekeepers and residents who are listed as hypersensitive in a designated spray area prior to conducting a spray. People who are concerned about exposure to mosquito control products can reduce their potential for exposure by staying indoors with children and pets when their neighborhood is being sprayed. If you would like to take extra precautions after the spray is completed, you can rinse off outdoor furniture or playground equipment before use.

Although spraying helps to reduce mosquito populations, the Chester County Health Department encourages residents to “Make You and Your Home a Bite-Free Zone” to prevent WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases. Because mosquito-borne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, residents can reduce their risk by using insect repellent and other personal protection and getting rid of standing water on their property…

read more for general advice at Chester County Health Department

Unity in Community Picnic: Sunday Sept. 3

N.b. as of 10 a.m., the forecast for 4-6 p.m. TODAY is: PARTLY SUNNY.

We cordially invite you to an end-of-summer Unity in Community Picnic, sponsored by the Sierra Club Sustainability Committee, Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Food Co-op–3 groups working together for people and the environment.

This celebration of growth–both in the number of Don’t Spray Me! supporters and in public consciousness of our message–will take place on Sunday, September 3, from 4 to 6 p.m., in Everhart Park, on the Union St. side, between S. Brandywine St. and S. Bradford Ave., West Chester Borough. (Rain date: Labor Day, Monday Sept. 4.)

We are happy to be able to offer free frozen yogurt for kids from Whirled Peace Frozen Yogurt, sponsored by DSM, Sierra Club, Carolyn and Tom Comitta, Margaret and Jim Hudgings, and Thriving Pets. Others are welcome to purchase frozen yogurt from the truck.

Come learn about Bat House-making, get the kids involved in fun environmental games, enjoy sample food from the Food Co-op, experience demonstrations such as Tai Chi and Yoga, see Sierra Club displays, and be in plenty of good company. Please bring your picnic and utensils.

We also commemorate the life of Graham Hudgings, an inspiration to our founding and all of our activities and a long-time sufferer from multiple chemical hypersensitivities, who tragically left us earlier this year.

For more information contact Margaret Hudgings at mhudgings@gmail.com/ or 610-692-3849.

Birmingham and Thornbury get 48-hour warning

[DSM note: This is not what we want to happen. This large residential area on both sides of route 202 in 2 townships contains many dwellings and several bodies of water and streams. Anyone in the area, please try to observe and let us know:

• Are adequate warning posted well in advance so residents and visitors will know to stay out of the way of the spray and take protective measures?
• Did you observe people who were not aware of the recommended precautions?
• Is there a vehicle with a loud speaker in front of the spray truck warning people to stay indoors or leave the vicinity?
• Does the truck spray more than once in any street or on any area?
• Is the spray shut off as the truck approaches a stream or body of water and if so, how many feet away?
• After spraying, what difference do you notice in the number of mosquitoes and other insects such as honey bees and dragonflies?
• Did you notice any effect, either immediate or after a few days, on children, cats, frogs, birds, or bats?
• How long does it take for the adult mosquito population to get back to about what it was before?]

Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Birmingham and Thornbury Townships

News release from Chester County Health Department, 8/8/17, 4:30 p.m.

The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Birmingham and Thornbury Townships (map of treatment area). The treatment is scheduled for Thursday, August 10th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm. The rain date for this event is Tuesday, August 15th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm.

The Chester County Health Department conducts mosquito control treatment in areas with high levels of mosquito activity and where multiple mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies, spraying is conducted to reduce residents’ risk of WNV infection. Anyone living in an area where mosquitoes are infected with WNV is at risk, but the risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious illness. While serious illness can occur in people of any age, people over 60 years of age, people who have received organ transplants, and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at the greatest risk for serious illness.

The Chester County Health Department uses a truck-mounted sprayer to apply 1.5 ounces of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product (Permanone) per acre of land. The mosquito control spray becomes inactive in just a few hours or with sunshine. Sprays are conducted after sunset, when mosquitoes are most active and bees have returned to their hives. Sprayers are turned off near bodies of water and apiaries to protect aquatic life and bees. The Chester County Health Department also notifies registered beekeepers and residents who are listed as hypersensitive in a designated spray area prior to conducting a spray. People who are concerned about exposure to mosquito control products can reduce their potential for exposure by staying indoors with children and pets when their neighborhood is being sprayed. If you would like to take extra precautions after the spray is completed, you can rinse off outdoor furniture or playground equipment before use.

Although spraying helps to reduce mosquito populations, the Chester County Health Department encourages residents to “Make You and Your Home a Bite-Free Zone” to prevent WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases. Because mosquito-borne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, residents can reduce their risk by using insect repellent and other personal protection and getting rid of standing water on their property….

read more for general advice at Chester County Health Department

If you are in the purple area on the downloaded map below, the plan is to spray you on Aug. 10 (the same area was sprayed on Sept. 12, 2016):

The importance of larviciding … including out of sight

In the 4-part mosquito life cycle*, the most vulnerable stage is the larva. Eggs are designed to survive, pupae don’t eat and their chief enemy would be rough water preventing them from breathing, and adults as we all observe are elusive fliers.

But larvae depend on feeding on organic matter in unclean standing water. If they get too hot or cold, don’t find enough food, or can’t breathe regularly at the surface, they will develop into adults either slowly or not at all.

Underground breeding: Out of sight not out of mind!

It is often said that mosquitoes become more numerous in wet weather, because they find more attractive (to them) surface-level breeding water (as long as there isn’t so much rain that the eggs, larvae, or pupae are washed away or drowned).

But in built-up areas, we often notice more mosquitoes in dry weather. That is a pretty sure sign that they are readily reproducing in water that does not dry up in dry weather.

Since residents are being more and more attentive about preventing breeding at surface level on their property, maybe the mosquitoes are finding other standing water, out of sight, below ground level.**

One place we may not think of looking is in drains on our property, which may catch water from driveways, natural surface draining paths, or downspouts off roofs.

Here we see a largish drain in an individual yard, into which water can flow either from higher ground or from storm drains on streets higher up a sloping terrain.

If you have such a drain, please look down it with a flashlight 4 or 5 days after a rain. If there is water sitting there, you are about to breed mosquitoes and should apply the bacteria-based larvicide. Any significant rain would wash out the future mosquitoes… and also any larvicide; so we need to remain alert to conditions.

Bti is widely used to stop larvae from growing by preventing their digestive tract from functioning. See more on Bti here.

Municipal storm drains and pipes

Mosquitoes also like to breed in municipal storm drains. Storm drains are the drains at street level where rain water pours down into what is known as a sump or catch basin. Any water that stands in the sump provides an ideal mosquito incubator: stagnant, organic-rich, and undisturbed (at least, until the next rain).

Theoretically water should drain out entirely after the rainfall ceases. It’s hard to see if a sump really does drain but sometimes you can look down with a flashlight.

According to the PA West Nile website (from the download Stormwater Management and West Nile Virus:

Are stormwater catch basins significant production areas for WNV carrying mosquitoes?

Catch basins can be important production areas for mosquitoes in the genus Culex (the primary vector of WNV in Pennsylvania). Many storm drain systems are designed to quickly direct water from impervious surfaces to nearby streams. Sometimes these systems can become clogged with debris, which can lead to standing water and mosquito production. Malfunctioning systems should be reported to local authorities for repair. Older catch basins were designed to trap debris and hold a small portion of the storm water after a rainfall event. These catch basins are a significant source of mosquito production and need to be treated for mosquito larvae on a regular basis. Some counties actively treat catch basins with mosquito larvicides to prevent mosquito production.

Here we see a storm drain, also fortunately dry even the day after a rain, at the corner of two streets.

Many cities routinely larvicide their storm drains, such as San Francisco, which larvicides 23,000 storm drains and has no mosquito problem. Alexandria, VA, an old town like West Chester, determined that storm drains were their main location of mosquito breeding and applies larvicide to fight the problem. Shaker Heights, the community on which we modeled our proposed West Nile Task Force Plan, larvicides all of its 850 drains.

Whether or not storm drains hold water right under the edge of the street, it is very hard to construct a large underground pipeline that has no dips or other irregularities that could hold stagnant water.

In case of doubt, let’s larvicide!

How far along an underground pipe (from either the drain end or the outflow end) will a mosquito fly to lay eggs in stagnant water? How long might water stand in an underground pipe before is leaks out or evaporates? Would any larvicide in the sump be carried into depressions in the pipe by a light rain but be carried out the end of the pipe by a strong rain? What is the water temperature in storm drains and downline pipes and what temperature range suits mosquito larvae?

We just haven’t seen good answers to those questions. We did measure the surface temperature of water standing in a storm drain on an August afternoon. The air temperature was about 78 degrees and the water 70 degrees, definitely in the mosquito comfort zone.

In research we have found, mosquitoes favor 80+ degrees and their larvae develop more slowly as the water gets cooler, but they definitely mature down to at least 50 degrees, maybe less. Local science experiment, anyone?

If some observant citizen noticed a swarm of mosquitoes flying out of a dry street drain, that would be valuable evidence, as it would suggest that they grew to maturity farther down the pipe underground. Or, if we could put a mosquito netting over a storm drain 5+ days after a rain, we might see what comes out.

Until we know more, DSM feels it is important, at least in hot dry weather and when mosquito numbers are rising, to get larvicide into any water standing in a drain or farther down the pipe, especially in flatter areas.

This could involve mixing some Bti in a quantity of water and pouring it down suspect street or residential drains. Anyone who has thoughts or experience in this, please let us know!

*For a quick outline (and appreciation of how varied and adaptable mosquitoes are), see “Life cycle” at American Mosquito Control Association. Or, for more detail, West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

**Or out of sight above our heads! We also need to be sure the gutters than drain off water from the edge of roofs are unclogged and do not hold rain water.