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Bill Would Ban Mosquito-Control Pesticide Use

Carrie Miller
Riverhead News-Review

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) has introduced a new bill aimed at restricting the use of the pesticide Methoprene within county estuaries.

Locally, Methoprene is used to control mosquitoes breeding in estuaries, along with several types of ants, flies, lice, moths, beetles and fleas, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension toxicology network.

The bill, introduced July 30, proposes strict application guidelines that only allow use of the pesticide when two or more bacterial larvicide treatments have proven unsuccessful in limiting the mosquito population, or when one or more diseases, such as West Nile Virus, have been identified in local mosquito populations, according to the proposed bill.

The pesticide is known as an insect growth regulator because it interferes with the insect development, making it impossible for insects to mature to the adult stage.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies have found its effects harmful to estuarine invertebrates like lobsters and crabs, disrupting normal development and growth processes in the crustaceans.

“The county should be doing everything it can to limit the unnecessary introduction of toxins into our environment,” said Mr. Schneiderman, saying also the die-off of lobsters in Long Island waters has corresponded with the use of new pesticides such as Methoprene. “Methoprene poses the possibility of causing damage to key species that our recreational and commercial fishermen depend on.”

Representatives of Suffolk County Vector Control, which uses the pesticide, were not immediately available for comment.