Letter: Is County’s Spraying Necessary?

Everyone living in the western communities of Palm Beach County should be paying close attention to when the county actually conducts the aerial spraying for mosquitoes. The last time the county announced they were going to spray, we experienced a huge swarm of biting mosquitoes. The county planned to spray all of our area that following night. However, they were unable to spray for over a week due to weather and wind conditions. The day after the county canceled the first spray attempt, our area was visited by a swarm of dragonflies. That night, the mosquito problem was gone. This did not stop the county from attempting to spray every night for over a week until they were able to spray the entire area in two separate nights on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26.

Why would the county spray our area with Dibrom/Naled, an organophosphate pesticide, after the mosquitoes seemed to be eaten by the dragonflies? Most people assumed that the county must have aerial sprayed as planned when they noticed there were no more mosquitoes. That was not the case. We should also be concerned for the beneficial dragonflies and honey bees. How many young hungry dragonflies succumbed to the pesticide that was sprayed? Our food supply is dependent upon the abundance of honey bees. We should not assume that there is no residual or cumulative risk for the bees only because they should be in their hives at night when the spraying is conducted. What about the cumulative risk to us?

As I write this, the county is planning to spray our area the third time this summer with this pesticide. Everyone needs to pay close attention to when the mosquitoes are active or gone and when the county actually is able to conduct their spraying operation. If the mosquitoes are no longer causing a problem, why would the county continue to apply Dibrom/Naled over our area? Is there some unknown reason why this spraying must be conducted early in the summer and late in the summer, even in the absence of an active mosquito population? With the wet summer we experienced this year, this schedule does not make any sense considering how often mosquitoes breed.

This area is our home, and the county is spending our tax dollars to apply a pesticide in the air over us. We need to pay attention and ask questions. Does the county check the mosquito population numbers after they appear and before they spray? Shouldn’t the county give Mother Nature a chance to handle the problem before they waste tax dollars and risk our health?

Go to the Palm Beach County Mosquito Control web site at http://discover.pbcgov.org/erm/pages/mosquito-control.aspx. Sign up for the Mosquito Control Air Spray e-mail notifications, so you will know when the county schedules aerial spray, and when they cancel and reschedule due to weather or wind conditions. Please pay attention to when the county actually conducts the aerial spraying and judge for yourself if there still is a need to spray.

Anne Kuhl, The Acreage