After months of deliberation, the Mosquito Control for the Twenty-First Century Task Force has concluded and issued its final report. The Task Force was created by the state legislature to study current mosquito-borne disease control management in Massachusetts, and provide comprehensive recommendations on how to improve the system. The Task Force is comprised of representatives of state agencies, conservation organizations, academic institutions, and those in the field doing mosquito control work.
The result: the Task Force overwhelmingly agreed that Massachusetts’ mosquito management system needs an overhaul, recommending that the legislation that created our current system be repealed and replaced with a more modern approach.
Some of their specific recommendations include reconstituting the Reclamation Board with a new Mosquito Management Board with expanded expertise in public health and the environment, and creating a new statewide Mosquito Management Plan based on science and integrated pest management with public input. The Task Force also recommends enhancing coordination with wetlands restoration and stormwater systems design, and better monitoring the impacts of pesticide use.
Regarding the opt-out process, the Task Force recommends improving the process for landowners, including the property marking requirements.
Now that the Task Force’s work is complete, it’s up the legislature to put these recommendations into legislation.
View their complete report of recommendations >>
Massachusetts has an opportunity to implement a more transparent, ecologically-based mosquito control system in Massachusetts that does not endanger our residents, wetlands, farmland, and pollinators with toxic chemicals. Massachusetts has been using pesticides for years to kill mosquitos through truck and aerial spraying, despite not having evidence that they are effective in curbing the risk of mosquito-borne disease. 80.5% of public comments received by the Task Force (347 comments) call for a reduction or ban of pesticides in the state’s mosquito control.
Alternatives exist, and should be applied to Massachusetts to protect public health and increase transparency. Modern mosquito control should promote ecologically-based management including avoidance of creating mosquito habitat in state and local development standards and support for wetlands and river restoration projects that eliminate stagnant water and remove artificial barriers to fish passage. The state should create quantifiable thresholds for when pesticides are used, if at all, and allow municipalities to opt-in to those services, rather than shoulder the burden of opting-out.