Palm Beach County has not done enough to control a burgeoning mosquito population in rain-soaked northern neighborhoods, says a resident who claims the pests are more numerous now than they have ever been in her 38 years in the Caloosa subdivision northeast of Bee Line Highway.
Jean Bacon said the large lots of her neighborhood are dotted with standing water from recent rains that have spawned a bumper crop of bugs that are posing an increasing health threat to her and her neighbors.
“These are, like, totally uncontrolled,” Bacon said. “There’s just no intention from the county in spraying. Nothing’s been done.”
Environmental Resource Management Director Rob Robbins said the county has attempted to attack the mosquito population but has been stymied by the weather.
“We were able to get a partial aerial spray in on Tuesday, June 13, covering approximately the northern third of the county before thunderstorms closed in,” he wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post. “Since then, we haven’t gotten the weather window we need to fly and spray. Believe me, we have been wishing for it.”
Robbins said the mosquito numbers are, indeed, on the rise.
“We monitor the mosquito population, and we see the numbers climbing,” he said. “Weather looks more favorable this weekend beginning tonight. So, hopefully can get airborne and knock their numbers down.”
While Bacon has been critical of the county’s effort to combat mosquitoes, another resident, Anne Kuhl of West Palm Beach, has raised concerns about the type of chemical the county uses when it does spray.
“While I understand that a high mosquito population can pose health concerns, the unintended consequences of aerial sprayed chemicals and pesticides such as Naled may pose a greater risk to the population living in the area,” Kuhl wrote to county commissioners. “In the interest of public safety and transparency, I urge you to put an immediate hold on all aerial spraying for mosquito control until safety concerns of Naled or any other chemical used for aerial spraying in Palm Beach County are fully disclosed to the public and addressed.”
Robbins, directed by County Administrator Verdenia Baker to respond to Kuhl’s concerns, wrote that the chemical Dibrom, for which Naled is an active agent, has been approved by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Still, Robbins said, “by spraying well below the determined safety rate and still maintaining effective disease vector control, we are delivering the best balance of public safety available.”