I hate mosquitos. I moved to Harvard in 2000, next to wetlands and the pond, and was surprised to find that they are far less prevalent than I had experienced in Acton for 12 years -- where the mosquito-control program was used. I was puzzled and did some research. Research that I shared in November with the Board of Health when they proposed joining the mosquito control district for $55,000 per year. Why would the BOH want to join this program and increase our risk of mosquito-borne disease?
What I learned is that in rural Harvard, as opposed to suburban and urban environments, prophylactic insecticide controls will breed more, not less mosquitoes. What I also learned is that the selective research supporting the controls used by the mosquito-control program were conducted in suburban and urban environments, not in our setting.
The relevant science shows that predator-prey relationships govern the success of these programs. In an urban/suburban environment, control technologies kill more predators (the mosquitos) than prey (us) and thus are effective at control. In more natural environments, where predators (such as dragonflies and other vernal pool predators) prey on mosquito larvae, the insecticides also kill a greater percentage of predators than prey due to the population size differences. The effect is to kill off the prey controls while breeding insecticide tolerant mosquitos through natural selection. Bingo -- more mosquitos, less dragonflies. Like with antibiotics, we should only use these controls, if at all, when disease-risk is confirmed or they will not work when we really need them.
I asked the BOH to reconsider and post the scientific literature I provided, and having not done so, I posted the articles in dropbox at: dropbox.com/sh/y9zjajh0a80gc6b/al5anHxuL.
We cannot afford to spend $55,000 per year to join a program that could put us at greater risk. We have far more important uses for our tax dollars. I encourage others to read the science, get informed and encourage the Board of Health to withdraw its ill-advised warrant article.