BY JOHN VAALER
LEICESTER/SALISBURY — Salisbury will no longer be sprayed for mosquitos by the Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen & Pittsford Insect Control District (BLSG), which voted at a meeting last Thursday night to suspend the town’s services starting July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
“This is all uncharted; it has not happened before,” said BLSG board member Jeff Schumann, who is also president of the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association.
Although Salisbury will not be receiving services from the BLSG, the town will still be represented by two board members and remain a part of the insect control district.
The BLSG also services the town of Proctor.
The insect control district’s decision follows the vote by Salisbury on Town Meeting Day last March to stop funding the BLSG after voters rejected its proposed $25,411 budget.
Environmental concerns were a main reason for Salisbury’s decision to defund the BLSG. The Town Meeting Day vote followed a report from last February by the Vermont Endangered Species Committee that recommended the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources require the BLSG to apply for a permit to further use their adulticide programs, which could have potentially adverse effects on endangered bat populations.
Last Thursday’s vote to suspend Salisbury’s services was unanimous.
“If we’re gonna service five towns, then five towns will contribute,” Schumann said.
The BLSG uses two methods of mosquito control: larvicide, which kills off larval mosquitos in aquatic areas, and adulticide, which sprays pesticides from a truck to eliminate fully grown mosquitoes.
The BLSG’s vote means that after July 1, Salisbury residents who want areas sprayed with pesticides will have to turn to private contractors instead of the publicly subsidized BLSG.
“If private residents really need spraying, there are private folks they can hire, but the BLSG at this point are not going to spray (in Salisbury),” said BLSG member Paul Vaczy, who also serves on the Salisbury selectboard.
Salisbury resident and herpetologist Jim Andrews said that spraying from private entities offers more choice for residents.
“(Right now), the residents of the town are paying for the spraying,” Andrews said. “The private route is probably a better route. If people want to have their home or area sprayed there are people that can do it.”
Andrews supported cutting the BLSG’s funding over concerns with adulticide harming reptiles and other vertebrates.
“I think the larvicide program is much safer,” he said. “(But) you’re still gonna have impacts on ecosystems (from larvicide).
“You’re removing food items for salamanders and other invertebrates feed on. But in terms of area impacted, it’s far less with the larvicide than the adulticide.”
Meanwhile, Salisbury’s future with the BLSG’s future is uncertain.
“We’re going to use this time to talk to the town of Salisbury about what type of relationship there may or may not be,” Vaczy said when asked about the possibility of BLSG services returning to Salisbury.
Vaczy and Schumann are the two BLSG board members who will represent the mosquito district in talks with Salisbury over the next fiscal year.
Even though Salisbury’s decision means that the BLSG will no longer spray pesticides in the town, Vaczy is somewhat optimistic that the suspension of services won’t adversely affect Salisbury residents too much.
“With the tremendous dryness and heat we’re having, things tend to taper out,” Vaczy said. “The height of the (mosquito) season is April, May, June.”
Schumann is still unsure about the veracity of claims that adulticide is harmful to bats or other wildlife.
“The science is not 100% clear on that,” said Schumann. “Like any other science, you can read studies to decide if these things are happening.”
Equally unconvincing to Schumann is the view that larvicide or adulticide is a more effective medium at controlling mosquito populations.
“I don’t think you can get all of the mosquitos with larvicide; I don’t think you can get them all with adulticide; I don’t think you can get them all with both,” said Schumann.
The neighboring insect control district to the BLSG is the Lemon Fair district, which covers Bridport, Cornwall and Weybridge. Lemon Fair only uses larvicide extermination on mosquitos.
Lemon Fair chair David Dodge speculated that Salisbury residents might have been quick on the draw when they initially voted to defund the BLSG because of the insect control district’s adulticide program.
“You can’t paint with a broad brush and say (larvicide) is better than (adulticide),” Dodge said. “You might have really bad mosquitoes and the only way to deal with them is using adulticide….
“I strongly suspect if they have a really bad mosquito season, (Salisbury residents will say): ‘Boy we should have kept that service.’ ”