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Oct 29, 2019 5:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Accabonac Pesticide Spraying Reduced Again In 2019 Thanks To 'Citizen Scientists'

Suffolk County and East Hampton Town officials this week applauded the benefits that an East Hampton Town Trustees-led effort to reduce mosquito spraying over Accabonac Harbor has brought. Michael Wright
Oct 29, 2019 5:32 PM


Suffolk County has reduced the portion of Accabonac Harbor that it sprays with the controversial pesticide methoprene by some 80 percent, as it enters the third year of an effort by the East Hampton Town Trustees and residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the harbor to guide the county’s mosquito control efforts.

Officials from the town and county gathered at the home of activist Edwina Von Gal on the edge of the Accabonac marsh last week to applaud the collaborative effort that has led to the broad reduction in spraying.

By sampling for mosquito larvae throughout the marshes that fringe Accabonac Harbor, a team of “citizen scientists” has provided the county’s Mosquito Control Division with detailed surveys showing that the pests are breeding in only a small sector of the marsh where water does not adequately drain off when tides drop.

Through a newly collaborative effort, led by Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, county health officials were convinced to tailor their aerial spraying of methoprene to just those areas where the mosquito larvae have been found.

“We had to design a program that would fill the staffing gap that prevented us from having the data points that would allow [Suffolk County Division of Vector Control Director Thomas Iwanejko] to make the adjustment in the spray schedule,” Ms. Fleming said last Thursday, October 24. “Tom immediately recognized the value of the budget impact and the value of restoring the ecology.”

In dollars, the county used just $5,000 worth of methoprene over Accabonac this summer, compared to more than $40,000 in 2016.

The surveying program has been led over the last two years by East Hampton Town Trustees Susan McGraw Keber and John Aldred, and town Natural Resources Department staff.

Mr. Iwanejko said that Vector Control is now developing a new marshland restoration initiative across the county that he says could potentially eliminate spraying in even more areas by draining areas of marshes with standing water.

The county and members of the Trustees will meet on December 5 this year to discuss the new management effort and the approach to mosquito spraying in Accabonac for next year.

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