Fewer weapons against mosquitoes

Jun 11 2011 - 7:48pm

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(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) A plane sprays pesticide against mosquitoes in Taylor last week,.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) A plane sprays pesticide against mosquitoes in Taylor last week,.

Crews in Davis and Weber counties have fewer tools to fight mosquitoes this year and, due to the high cost of re-registering pesticide products, they fear losing even more from their arsenal in coming years.

The cost for manufacturers to reregister a product runs between $10 million and $15 million, according to Gary Hatch, director for the Davis County Mosquito Abatement District.

Consequently, Hatch is seeing fewer products available and is concerned it will get worse in the future, particularly since mosquito products are infrequently used compared to those used on agricultural crops.

"The available tools we have to use are becoming smaller and smaller as we fight to try and keep some products," said Hatch. "In the last five years, we've lost two or three products and another couple are on the edge right now, as to whether or not they will be re-registered.

It's not because the products are bad, but it is based on the cost of reregistration."

This is currently a nationwide issue, said Hatch, as they try to work with product vendors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to express the need for public health products.

The EPA says it is actively working with the mosquito-control community to ensure that as many pesticide tools are available as possible.

"However, this market is fairly small, especially when compared with the agricultural market, and pesticide manufacturers are often reluctant to develop new pesticide tools," said Dale Kemery, press officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Despite the market size, the current number of pesticide types available to U.S. mosquito control agencies is adequate to provide effective mosquito control."

One of the reasons for the reregistration and the cut of a few products, according to EPA officials, is recent efforts to make sure all pesticides meet current scientific and regulatory standards.

The EPA discovered some of the pesticides being used did not meet newer regulatory standards, so they had to pull the products to protect public health and the environment.

The Top of Utah faces a larger-than-normal season of mosquitoes as flood water accumulates.

Adult mosquitoes have started laying eggs on top of the water; when the water starts receding, the eggs will hatch.

"The weather is definitely in the mosquitoes favor with all of the water, but the advantage for us is that it has been very cool, so the development of mosquitoes has been slower, enough for us to get out there and get more area covered," said Hatch.

For Bruce Bennett, director of Weber Mosquito Abatement, this is the biggest problem he has seen in the 50 years he has been in the business.

Bennett said they used to have 10 to 15 different chemicals to use, but now they are down to only two.

They have some biological products to use, but they don't work as well, Bennett said.

"It's tough to do our job when it costs so much to keep chemicals once the registration runs out.

It costs millions of dollars to reregister and the new ones coming out are biological, but they just don't do the job," said Bennett. "It's like trying to play baseball without a bat."

The EPA disputes this claim, however, as they have recently registered two new larvacides, pesticides used to kill mosquito larva in water before they hatch into adult mosquitoes.

That means there are now more types of pesticides for mosquito control agencies to use than before, Kemery said.

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