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Nov 13, 2018 6:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Legislators To Consider Continued Use Of Methoprene

Kevin McAllister, founder of Defend H2O, has expressed his opposition to Suffolk County's use of Methoprene to stop growth mosquito larvae. GREG WEHNER
Nov 14, 2018 10:28 AM

As Suffolk County legislators prepare to vote on the 2019 Vector Control plan, which includes mosquito control, the use of one chemical compound that restricts the growth of mosquitoes in the larval stage is under scrutiny once again.

The founding president of Defend H2O, Kevin McAllister, is pushing for a ban on the use of methoprene.

His concern, as well as the concern of many others, is that the chemical targets arthropods, which include shellfish, and that it could have some impact on the populations of shrimp, lobsters and crabs—which are all part of the same family as the mosquito.

Methoprene is applied through spraying in the marshlands that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

For Suffolk County Vector Control, the chemical has been the main weapon when trying to reduce the populations. “Methoprene is once again included in the work plan,” Mr. McAllister said on Tuesday.

He added that the county officials and County Legislator Bridget Fleming claim they want to reduce the use of methoprene, yet he has seen nothing but an increase in its use.

Mr. McAllister also said he was disappointed that Suffolk County, which led the efforts to ban DDT in the 1970s, is not doing enough to ban methoprene. He added that New York’s neighbor, Connecticut, banned the larvicide along coastal areas in 2013.

“Tom has gotten up there and said Connecticut has no ban on methoprene, and that’s simply not true,” Mr. McAllister said of Tom Iwanejko, the director of Vector Control. “There is a prohibition on methoprene in all coastal areas. The only qualifier is that there has to be a documented death of West Nile [virus], and the population has to exceed 100,000.”

Ms. Fleming explained on Tuesday that what happened in Connecticut was not necessarily a ban, but was a limitation. In Suffolk County, she said, there has been a reduction in the use of methoprene, though it has not been completely eliminated.

In fact, the county uses a mixture of methoprene and bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis solids, or BTIs.

Mr. McAllister has acknowledged that BTIs are fairly benign and safer than methoprene, but he would rather see methoprene eliminated.

In Accabonac Harbor, Ms. Fleming said, methoprene has been reduced by 50 percent, which is a start. She said the reductions are being made in Accabonac in an effort to create a model that can be used in areas where marshes are blocked off to predators and mosquitoes can thrive.

Still, eliminating the chemical all together is something Ms. Fleming does not see in the near future.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for moving in the right direction, when talking in black and white terms,” she said in terms of banning or not banning the larvicide. “There’s a balance there. There is recognition that there is all kinds of good reason to reduce pesticides.

“It’s much easier to complain than to roll up your sleeves and help fashion a solution that moves things in the right direction,” she added.

Ms. Fleming said she supports Mr. Iwanejko’s 2019 plan which reduces methoprene use.

Mr. Iwanejko declined to comment directly to The Press on Tuesday.

The Suffolk County Legislature’s Department of Public Works committee plans to vote on the measure on Friday, and the full legislature will vote on the plan on Tuesday, November 20.

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“I don’t think it’s helpful for moving in the right direction, when talking in black and white terms,” she said in terms of banning or not banning the larvicide."

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