The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) has been discussing possible actions to control in Maine diseases caused by arboviruses, including West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which are spread through mosquito bites. Incidences in other New England states in summer 2012, including deaths in Vermont, prompted this discussion.
Vermont and Massachusetts sprayed pesticides aerially to treat mosquito populations. Maine BPC rules currently do not allow for unauthorized pesticide applications to private properties, which include the types of activities undertaken in other states. The BPC initiated this discussion to allow for spraying for mosquito control in certain circumstances. Toxicologist Lebelle Hicks told the board that a group of synthetic pyrethroids and two organophosphates are labeled for this use in Maine.
The BPC enacted emergency rulemaking at its September 2012 meeting to allow for circumstances when both ground-based and aerial spraying can be used to target mosquitoes. The board acknowledged questions about the efficacy of these methods, but moved forward with rulemaking nonetheless.
The emergency rule allows for government-sponsored control of mosquitoes when the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends control for arboviral diseases. The emergency amendment, which lasts only 90 days, requires that government entities make a reasonable effort to notify residents before spraying; to include an “opt out” provision for ground-based applications; and to prevent aerial applications on certified organic farms.
The MOFGA staff fought hard for the last provision and recognizes that it does not sufficiently protect certified organic farms or other sensitive populations. As the BPC likely pursues permanent rulemaking over the next few months to address the threat of arboviral diseases, MOFGA will work for strong provisions to protect those who do not wish to be sprayed or whose livelihoods spraying would negatively impact.
Also at the September 2012 meeting, Chuck Ravis, who had been a member of the BPC for one term, was not re-appointed, while Deven Morrill, a licensed arborist with Lucas Tree Experts, was newly appointed. Ravis was the lone voice opposing registration of some new genetically engineered products in Maine.
In July 2012 the BPC approved a Section 18 Emergency Registration Request for HopGuard to control Varroa mites in managed bee colonies. HopGuard, a potassium salt of hop beta acids, differs from other products in that it can be used while bees are making honey. State apiarist Tony Jadczak spoke in favor of the registration but noted that although this product reduces mite populations, it is not a long-term solution, because the mites are just vectors for viruses – the real problem in bee health.
Also in July the board unanimously authorized the staff to work with the blueberry industry to develop specifics for a crisis Section 18 exemption for the use of Gowan Malathion 8 Flowable to control spotted wing drosophila on wild and cultivated blueberries. Malathion, an organophosphate insecticide, can affect the nervous system.
The BPC granted a variance request to TransCanada Energy Ltd, for the Kibby Wind Power Project of New Hampshire, to control vegetation along a power transmission line in wetlands in northwestern Maine when no water is present. The 14-mile right-of-way would be treated with Rodeo, Arsenal Powerline and Escort XP applied with backpack sprayers.
In September 2012 the BPC approved a variance request for phragmites (reed) control within 25 feet of a wetland. Of the two genotypes of phragmites, one is invasive and causes monotypic stands, ultimately reducing biodiversity. Some green forest certifications require control of invasives, which is the impetus for this request. RCL Services and DASCO of Bangor and Presque Isle submitted this variance request; they intend to use Rodeo herbicide to control the stands. Board member Curtis Bohlen said it is very difficult to determine what type of phragmites is present in an area, and some of this control will likely be used on native stands. The BPC unanimously approved the request.
During its September 2012 meeting, the BPC reached a consent agreement with Purely Organic, a lawn care company based in York Harbor and accused of several violations, including fraud. (See the fall 2012 MOF&G.) Given the large number and serious implications of the alleged violations, the BPC considered sending the case to the attorney general’s office rather than reaching a consent agreement with the company. A representative from the company attended the September meeting and detailed changes enacted since the alleged violations were uncovered. The board chose to approve the consent agreement with a motion that the conditional pesticide applicators license currently held by the company be reviewed annually, rather than refer the case to the attorney general’s office. The board levied a $37,000 fine, with $19,000 suspended.
Also in September 2012, the board unanimously approved a consent agreement with Woodford Street Apartments, LLC, based in Cape Elizabeth, for a pesticide application violation at a building on Woodford Street in Portland. In this case a maintenance worker was instructed to apply Demand SC insecticide to all apartments and hallways in the building. This type of application requires a pesticide license, which the employee did not have. The pesticide was incorrectly mixed and applied at five times the label rate. A $700 fine was levied.
The board reached a consent agreement with Paul’s Lawn Care Inc. of Biddeford for a pesticide application to control crabgrass at the Lyman Town Hall in April 2011. In this case, somebody looking through town records revealed an invoice for the application from Paul’s Lawn Care, and the BPC staff was notified. This pesticide application requires a license, which the applicator did not have. The company was fined $250.
– Katy Green