Introductory Resolution 2055-2018 adopted Suffolk County’s Vector Control 2019 Annual Plan of Work.
Suffolk County Vector Control, a Division of the Department of Public Works, is responsible for the suppression of mosquitoes, ticks and other arthropods which are vectors of human disease and require public action for control. The Suffolk County Charter requires the annual filing of a Vector Control Plan with the Legislature outlining the work to be done, methods to be employed and general description of lands to be entered to carry out these responsibilities.
Since taking office in January 2016, Legislator Fleming has made efforts to ensure that additional resources be committed to management of the burgeoning tick population to control tick-borne diseases, and that efforts to control mosquitoes include wetlands restoration, and other techniques to control the population of biting black mosquitoes, while reducing the use of pesticides, including methoprene.
This year’s Plan includes a description of implementation of the first full year of a cooperative data-gathering project at Accabonac Harbor in East Hampton with Vector Control officials, East Hampton Town Trustees, The Nature Conservancy, and local citizen-scientist volunteers. The 2019 Plan notes, “The cooperative project began in 2017 with Stony Brook University Student Interns using GPS to plot mosquito breeding locations, with the locations mapped and characterized by level of activity. In 2018, the East Hampton Trustee’s expanded the cooperative program to utilize additional samplers and to cover 190 acres of Accabonac Harbor marshlands. Using the data, aerial treatment zones were remapped allowing for Vector Control to greatly reduce pesticide use while continuing to protect human health and quality-of-life. The cooperative project is expected to continue in 2019, with the goal of using the data to collaborate on work for the next phase of the project to begin planning for wetland restoration. Restoration planning using the identified mosquito hotspots will further reduce or potentially eliminate the need to treat Accabonac Harbor using pesticides on a regular basis. This pilot project will be used as a guide to invite other cooperators to develop similar programs at marsh complexes within their jurisdictions. This program will greatly benefit the County through cost savings from reduced pesticide and helicopter usage and through restoration of wetlands resulting in environmental benefits to the marsh community and those who depend on its flora and fauna. Estimated cost savings to the County from the 2018 Accabonac Harbor wetland project is $18,000 from reduced pesticide applications and helicopter hours treating the marsh. This savings was achieved by reducing the treatment blocks at Accabonac from approximately 190 acres to only the 70 acres identified as active mosquito breeding hotspots.”
“Suffolk County Vector Control is on the front lines protecting our residents from dangerous vector-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as a host of tick-borne illnesses. Vector Control uses a variety of methods to prevent the spread of disease, and they continue to reduce pesticide applications when appropriate. Just this year the program in Accabonac Harbor tested activity to determine if applications are necessary, and helped establish and target “Hotspot” breeding zones, reducing the amount of applications by 50% while targeting hotspot breeding zones more efficiently and effectively. Savings to taxpayers were realized of approximately $18,000. The program delivers a win-win-win. We save tax dollars, protect the public health, and greatly reduce pesticide use to protect fragile wetlands.” said Legislator Bridget Fleming.