Opting out of pesticide sprayings

by beth on May 15, 2017

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For years now, when mosquitos start flying, many residents worry about a lot more than itchy bug bites. News about the West Nile virus and, more recently, the Zika virus is alarming, especially for parents. 

The Central Mass Mosquito Control Project is responsible for limiting the spread of mosquito borne-illnesses through keeping the insect population in check. And that’s achieved through sprayings.

Meanwhile, there have been increasing concerns among some community members (like a reader who contacted me) about pesticide use and impacts. 

Some are concerned with organic gardening or keeping chemicals off of their kids. Others are worried about hurting pollinators like butterflies and bees.

If you want to opt out of having your property sprayed, there is a way . It just may not be ideal.

Over the past year, the CMMCP has revamped the way residents can opt out of spraying. It’s no longer through notice to the Town Clerk’s office.

The good news is that getting on their list is as easy as registering online and there is no longer an annual cut-off date. It is effective from 14 days of their receipt of your registration and doesn’t expire until the end of the year.

No Spray Zone sign (sold by The Common Sign on etsy)The bad news is, to avoid spraying, residents aren’t just required to register. They are also required to mark their properties. And cute little signs that you find on etsy don’t make the cut.

To mark your “No Spray” property lines, you will need to use several aluminum or white plastic plates. The CMMCP website outlines:

Approved Exclusion Marking Methods:
CMMCP required no spray markingWhite plastic or aluminum pie plates, a minimum of 9 inches in diameter, with the words “No Spray” clearly written in permanent marker. Plates must be placed on trees, stakes, or poles easily visible from the street, at least every 50 feet along the property boundary adjacent to the road and no more than 5 feet from the road.

To learn more about CMMCP and their sprayings, click here.

To opt out of the sprayings, click here

(logo and plate images from CMMCP website)

1 Tim Deschamps May 15, 2017 at 2:13 PM

Spraying is but one service available to area residents by CMMCP as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan http://www.cmmcp.org/services.htm. There are several other options used all year long at CMMCP in member communities as a proactive program to reduce or eliminate the need for spraying. Spraying is only done in areas that we receive a request or identify mosquito-borne virus, and certain criteria must be met such as wind speed, temperatures, time of day, etc.

This was not CMMCP’s revamp of the regulations, it was done through an open public meeting process through the Mass. Dept. of Agriculture (MDAR) – check this link http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/proposed-amendments-to-regulations.html and scroll to 333CMR 13.00 at the end of the page. The posting requirement has always been part of the regulations; what has changed is the process to exclude can now be done online or by mail to MDAR and it can be done anytime of the year – prior to this it had to be filed with the Town Clerk before March 1 of each year.

CMMCP takes great care in protecting pollinators and other beneficial insects through a policies set in place by MDAR and CMMCP since 2007 (http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/agr/mosquitos/docs/policy-bee-precautions-and-adulticide-labeling.pdf). All work is done under the mosquito control Generic Environmental Report filed with MEPA in 1998, updated in 2008. http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/pesticides/mosquito/generic-environmental-impact-report-geir.html and http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/pesticides/mosquito/mosquito-control-updates.html.

Significant research has been done on the pesticides used by mosquito control districts; pesticides we use are consumer-based products and are not restricted use. Many times the formulations we use are in lower concentrations that products consumers purchase at local retail outlets. http://www.cmmcp.org/research_papers.htm

If anyone has questions or concerns please email me at deschamps@cmmcp.org.

2 beth May 15, 2017 at 2:24 PM

Thank you for sharing.

3 D. McGee May 15, 2017 at 4:22 PM

I’m confused. Does CMMCP come on to private properties and spray? How is that legal? Is there advance notice given?

4 beth May 16, 2017 at 7:13 AM

Good questions. For now, all I have is from the FAQ : How much “spraying” will you do in my town? This part of our service has the most misconceptions attached to it. Mosquito spraying, called adulticiding, is performed in all CMMCP member towns by request-only. Area residents will call the CMMCP office and register a complaint about unbearable mosquito numbers. A Field Technician will be dispatched to investigate this complaint. If the pre-determined threshold of adult mosquitoes* is reached, a very specific, targeted application will result, but only in that area. Many factors influence this program – weather, current surveillance, topography, location, etc. CMMCP does not perform routine, area-wide spraying for adult mosquitoes. Exclusions for spraying can be made through the exclusion process; please check our Pesticide Exclusion Information page for more information. Requests for service can be made from this link: CMMCP Online Service Request Form. Our guidelines for adulticiding can be found here. These service are also offered by phone at 508.393.3055, or through you local Board of Health. (*Samples collected during this type of surveillance are often brought back to the CMMCP lab to be identified to species – this allows us to tailor the larvicide program to reduce future dependence on adult control).

5 beth May 16, 2017 at 8:56 AM

There is a lot more information on the process here:
http://www.cmmcp.org/adulticide.htm. (Thank you Jenny for sharing.) But while my impression is that sprayings are from the street – I didn’t see that specified. I don’t want to presume to know – so, I reached out for more answers.

6 Tim Deschamps May 16, 2017 at 10:35 AM

If we receive a service request and the property is accessible for our spray equipment, we will go on private property. The resident is notified in the afternoon and the spraying takes place that same evening after sunset.

7 beth May 16, 2017 at 10:43 AM

Thank you for clarifying.

8 Jenny P May 16, 2017 at 8:09 PM

To understand a little better, how broad of an area (how many houses) is sprayed in a typical application when a person puts in a request?

9 Tim Deschamps May 17, 2017 at 8:44 AM

The technician will determine the extent of the application according to topography, wind speed & direction, areas to be excluded, etc.

10 Alan May 17, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Just the property of the owner that makes the request, All the times I have been sprayed they have never sprayed if it was windy. I get my property sprayed several times in the summer and its a big help.They have also walked my property looking for problem areas and spot treated them, you don’t have to get just sprayed.

11 Jenny P May 15, 2017 at 10:51 PM

Beth- thank you for bringing the spray exclusion process to everyone’s attention.

12 Carl Guyer May 16, 2017 at 8:31 AM

This is an interesting issue. If you look, you will see many similar conflicts unfolding in which humans are determined to manage the biological systems around them and neglect to remember they are themselves part of these systems. Tweeting the chemistry of biology to achieve some percieved or real benefit ripples through, accumulates in or is sometimes amplified by the very chemistry of life. The odds on favorite is that humans will not be successful in their attempt to control what is essentially a chaotic process.

13 Jenny P May 17, 2017 at 9:28 PM

Tim, can you please clarify with a range of numbers of houses? Contrary to Alan’s comment, I am under the impression that a couple of summers ago, my street was sprayed when the person putting in the request lived three streets over.

14 Tim Deschamps May 18, 2017 at 7:52 AM

There is no set range, the tech determines the spray area based on the criteria I listed above.

15 Sara May 18, 2017 at 9:31 AM

Hi Tim,
My neighbors every year request spraying. So could the tech possibly spray my yard as well if they determine it should be? I opt out of spraying. Would the tech know that when they spray my neighbors? I understand I have to put up “no spray” paper plates now I’m just really concerned my yard will get sprayed.
Just to clarify, the tech could possibly determine a house should be sprayed that night without the homeowner knowing?
Thank you for your help.

16 Tim Deschamps May 18, 2017 at 12:33 PM

If you are a listed exclusion, the tech will not spray your property. We keep paper lists in the trucks and all addresses are geocoded and put on GPS units that give audible and visual warnings as the exclusion area is approached. On occasion we will get a service request next to an exclusion; in that case we talk to the exclusion and see if an area can be sprayed on the service request’s property without impacting the exclusion property, but many times in this case the service request is not fulfilled. If the tech feels he/she cannot perform the application without impacting the exclusion area, that service is not done. However we can still provide education on mosquito biology, walk the property and point out areas that need to be drained or cleaned up (like containers, bird baths, etc), so we are still providing a service, just not the one the resident may have originally requested.

17 beth May 18, 2017 at 12:38 PM

Thank you for continuing to answer readers’ questions. This information is very helpful!

18 Sara May 18, 2017 at 12:49 PM

Thank you so much for the follow up! It really appreciate it!

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