Who We Are:
The BLSG Insect Control District is a municipal district started in 1979 whose mission is to reduce levels of mosquitoes for better quality of life and improved health of our citizens. It is funded partly by the state and partly by the four towns that make up the district (Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, and Goshen). Our main goal is to minimize mosquito impacts on our citizens with as little environmental impact as possible.
The District is run by a volunteer Board of Trustees, with two representatives from each town. Presently serving on the Board are Kip Andres (Salisbury), David Breen (Goshen), Gary Gibbs (Leicester), Ben Lawton (Goshen), Brad Ramsey (Leicester), and Wayne Rausenberger (Brandon). A Brandon and a Salisbury position are presently open. Gary Gibbs serves as Chair, Brad Ramsey is Vice Chair, Wayne Rausenberger is Treasurer, and Kip Andres is Secretary. Mort Pierpont is Director of Operations.
How We Work and What We Do:
Mosquitoes generally lay eggs in shallow, standing water such as the edges of wetlands, flooded fields or floodplains, and even stagnant water in gutters, old tires, or flower pots. When the eggs hatch (which can range from several days to several years later, as conditions dictate) larvae appear. Four larval stages of development occur, after which adults emerge and fly. Adult females seek blood meals to nourish their eggs with protein, and that is when they become pests. About 45 species of mosquitoes inhabit Vermont and each has its own favored habits and habitats. Through the course of a season waves of different species will emerge, depending on conditions, making control all the more difficult.
The ideal situation is to control the life cycle in the larval stage. This involves application to water (by plane, helicopter, or backpack sprayer) of an organic pesticide (Bacillus thuringensis, or Bt) that closely targets mosquito larvae with little to no environmental impact. The timing and location of application are critical and when it works, it works very well and is quite safe. But it is complex. First, we need to know where there are dense populations of larvae, and that involves broad field surveys over thousands of acres. When prime locations are identified, a small plane or helicopter flying at low altitude and speed must drop controlled amounts of Bt over a narrow band of water that often is hidden by dense vegetation. The pilot works in concert with one or more ground observers and often has to follow very irregular water contours.
Larval control is complex and not always successful and that is where control of adults is needed. The BLSG has a fleet of four trucks and specialized spraying machines for control of flying adult mosquitoes; these are the trucks you may see or hear driving through your neighborhood on summer evenings. We employ a team of drivers that must go through detailed training and become licensed by the State before they can spray. Spraying is done under very narrow weather conditions: it cannot rain, it must not be very windy, and it must be above 55 degrees. To avoid killing beneficial insects (such as bees or butterflies) spraying is done at dusk and after dark. Thus, we have only a couple of hours available on nights with good weather to reduce adult populations.
The extremely small droplet aerosols utilized in adult mosquito control are designed to impact primarily adult mosquitoes that are on the wing at the time of the application. Degradation of these small droplets is rapid, leaving little or no residue in the target area at ground level.
The mosquito treatments we use have minimal environmental impact. Our sprayers use small amounts of chemicals due to very fine atomization, and all chemicals are handled strictly according to law. However, if you wish to be excluded from adult spraying (e.g., you have an organic farm or a beekeeping operation), you should contact the BLSG in writing via P.O. Box 188, Brandon, VT 05733; this is due in early April of each year you wish to be excluded. Please include a tax map that clearly shows your property boundaries so that we can identify them on our maps as “no spray zones.” Note that our spraying machines apply materials to about 150 feet of either side of a road; areas further removed will receive little to no spray.