Bug control issue for officials
With the early arrival of summer, mosquitos are already out in full force — and the City of Brewton could have a little less ammunition with which to fend them off this year.
New regulations issued by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management under the Environmental Protection Agency, have made the city’s usual bug spraying program cost prohibitive, city officials said.
Dewayne King, superintendent of the Brewton City Department of Public Works said that with new regulations of the ADEM, an expensive permit is required and funding is not available. That leaves it up to the homeowners to provide their own pest control.
“A Clean Water Act has changed requirements and funding will prevent us from spraying this year,” King said.
But Brewton City Clerk John Angel said the city is trying to make alternate plans.
“We are trying to do some checking to see if we can arrange something with an exterminator, but if that doesn’t happen, residents will be responsible for their own control,” Angel said.
Mayor Ted Jennings said the new ruling doesn’t make much sense.
“The EPA added a new rule last year that requires a specialized person to do the spraying, and a special permit,” Jennings said. “Along with other things, the spray can’t be put into water. This makes it nearly impossible to follow the new guidelines. When we met with the League of Municipalities, it was recommended that we not spray until the regulations have been explained more clearly. I know that one neighboring town, Monroeville, has also elected to stop spraying.”
Although most people believe one of the results of warmer weather is more bugs — including fire ants and mosquitos — the temperature doesn’t make that much difference, said Ken Kelley, director of Escambia County’s office of the Alabama Extension Service.
“The bugs are going to be about the same as they always have been,” Kelley said. “Cooler weather does slow down the life cycle of mosquitos and other bugs, but we have had an abundance of mosquitos and fire ants, and the love bugs will come no matter what we do. We just have to deal with them. It seems as if gnats have been much worse this year, too.”
Kelley said there are some things homeowners can do to help mitigate the pests.
“Most resources are not up to taking care of all the aggravation they cause us, but this the way it is when you live in our area,” he said. “This puts the pressure onto the homeowner, and there are some things that can be done. Vegetation control will help deter the growth of mosquitos and getting rid of standing water will take away their breeding grounds.”
The Escambia County Health Department also has a larvacide available to put into standing water; it will kill the mosquito larvae before it has time to mature, said Casey Grant of the health department.
While the City of Brewton is not currently planning to spray, the cities of East Brewton and Atmore will be spraying for bugs, as will Escambia County.
Terry Clark, mayor of East Brewton, said that at the present time the city is planning on continuing their plans to spray, at least until city officials have additional information.
Don Whatley, Atmore superintendent of Public Works, said that Atmore, too, will continue to spray for the time being. And David Stokes, chairman of the Escambia County Commission, the county will continue to have the spray trucks, but the county will have some grant money that will take care of some of the expense for the bug control.