By Lee J. Kahrs
PITTSFORD—After years of discussion, the Town of Pittsford is dipping its proverbial foot into the local mosquito control pool.
At a regular meeting on May 18, the Pittsford Select Board unanimously accepted the Brandon-Leicester-Sudbury-Goshen Mosquito Control District’s invitation to join as a member town, which entails an annual contribution to the BLSG of $15,000.
The Board will participate in larval sampling, data collection and larvicide application effective July 1.
Pittsford Town Manager John Haverstock said in an interview Monday that the Board opted not to participate in the spraying of adulticide that the BLSG does each summer to control mosquitoes. Rather, Pittsford will first focus on treating swamp and wetland areas with larvicide, to see if that will be enough to control the mosquito population.
“Voters approved larvicide dipping, data collection and treatment as needed. It’s a more modest approach and uses all safe material,” Haverstock said.
For several years like clockwork, summer has brought mosquitoes to Pittsford and residents complain and ask about joining the BLSG. But Pittsford is known for its careful budget spending and voters would not approve spending for mosquitoes.
Then, at the 2014 Town Meeting, Pittsford voters approved a measure to spend $10,000 per year to work with the BLSG on a contract basis, training and hiring someone to sample wetlands for mosquito larvae.
“Because mosquitoes don’t respect town boundaries, treating the larvae will hopefully prevent fewer mosquitoes blowing across other district towns,” Haverstock said.
Mosquitoes in the Brandon, Leiceister, Sudbury and Goshen area have long been a summer nuisance, but that nuisance turned deadly in 2012 with the deaths of two local men from mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
EEE is a rare but often deadly virus carried by a specific breed of mosquito that was found in the Whiting swamp area. The 2012 deaths were the first two cases of EEE ever in Vermont and led to aerial spraying by the state health department. EEE was detected again in mosquitoes in Whiting in 2013 and 2014, as well as in Grand Isle in 2014, but there have been no other human EEE cases or deaths since 2012.
Those developments, coupled with voter approval in 2014, led to last Wednesday’s Pittsford Select Board vote officially joining the BLSG. Haverstock said the $15,000 buy-in will make Pittsford eligible for any aerial spraying applications from the state depending on conditions.
Now, the town needs two interested volunteers, plus one alternate, willing to represent Pittsford on the BLSG Board. “If you have an interest in science or entomology, or you just hate mosquitoes,” Haverstock said, “we have a position for you.”
The town manager added that he believes most Pittsford residents support the town’s mosquito control initiative. “I think anybody who has stepped outside in the summer will appreciate the direction the town is taking,” he said.