Our beautiful community includes vibrant forested and wetland areas, which provide essential habitat for fish, birds, mammals, and insects like butterflies, fireflies, and honeybees. Unfortunately, wetlands are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can be both a nuisance and in some cases a public health risk. Of most concern, Tiger mosquitoes have been found in our region since 1987 and can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and several kinds of encephalitis in humans, and heartworm disease in dogs. The MDA website says: “West Nile virus has affected every region of Maryland and is now considered as being endemic throughout the state.”
The mosquito control program of Maryland’s Department of Agriculture (MDA) is a public health program. Its primary aim is to prevent the occurrence of mosquito-borne disease in humans, pets and livestock. One of MDA’s programs, among an array of measures, is a mosquito control spraying program for local communities, especially near wetland areas. Spraying is done at night using an ultra low volume (UVL) spray to disperse tiny droplets that do not coat surfaces, thereby minimizing the effect on other small organisms. FCFHOA is one of about 2100 communities that participate in this program (sign-up each year is on a first come-first served basis). MDA recommends that all participating homeowners also take proactive measures to reduce standing water in their individual yards, which will prevent mosquito breeding.
As a matter of public health, spraying will always occur where a positive test for a mosquito-borne disease is identified through surveillance activities. Residents are notified of the positive test result, the potential for the transmission of a mosquito-borne disease, and the immediate need for mosquito spraying services in a geographic area.
There are two primary pesticides used in the mosquito spraying: Permethrin and piperonyl butoxide. While human health impacts did not exceed the EPA’s thresholds for concern, the agency notes that permethrin is highly toxic to freshwater and estuarine aquatic organisms, honeybees, and other beneficial insects. Similarly, the EPA indicates that the use of piperonyl butoxide in mosquito abatement can pose a risk to aquatic organisms, invertebrates, and amphibians (frogs and lizards); mammals and birds have also shown negative impacts. The MDA Website says that these pesticides are registered by EPA for mosquito control.
The MDA also makes the following statement about their spraying practices: “We spray at night when bees and butterflies are not active. The droplets in our sprays average 15 to 20 micrometers. They are so small that they are acted upon equally by gravity and drag. They float in the absence of wind – just like a fog droplet. Because they are so small, they do not coat surfaces, so when bees and butterflies crawl on surfaces the next morning, those surfaces are not covered with our spray. Permethrin breaks down in sunlight. There is evidence that permethrin in our spray does not affect larger insects, like bees and butterflies. Bees have been studied extensively. There are no deleterious effects. There is much less information on moths, but since they are larger insects they are probably not affected.”
If you do not wish to participate in the mosquito abatement program:
By default, all FCF homes are enrolled in the program when the community signs up. Any resident can apply for an exemption for their property. That exemption will have a 300 foot buffer on either side of the exempter’s property. To opt out of the mosquito control program, submit the following form: https://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Documents/MosquitoControlExemptionForm.pdf
FCF’s night for mosquito fogging will be on Mondays (starting June 8), sometime between the hours of 7pm-2:30am, if dictated by the mosquito count and weather. During the fogging, MDA recommends that people in the neighborhood stay indoors. Also, please note that the mosquito control program may also be affected by a hiring freeze (related to Covid-19), which affects seasonal hiring. This could mean that fogging may be more intermittent; the community will be notified if this is the case. See the notice below.
Notice Regarding COVID-19 (dated May21, 2020)
Due to COVID-19 there is currently a hiring freeze for state of Maryland government agencies. This unfortunately means we are not able to hire the seasonal contractual employees on which our program heavily relies. Until MDA is given notice that we can resume hiring, Nighttime ULV fogging will be limited to disease response and particularly severe nuisance problems. If permission is not granted to hire seasonal employees by May 27, nuisance problems will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if ULV fogging will be performed.
For more information, click here.