Upton Residents to Vote on Joining the Central Mass Mosquito Control Project at Annual Town Meeting

mnnUpton residents will vote on whether or not to become a member in the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project (CMMCP) for a minimum of 3 years at the Annual Town Meeting on Thursday May 9.

Upton has again been designated as a high risk level community for mosquito-borne illnesses. There were 33 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts in 2012, the most ever recorded in a single season, and 7 EEE human cases including 2 deaths. Health officials predict the state is on a track to have the greatest number of WNV-positive pools since the disease was first seen in Massachusetts in 2000. Westborough has been designated a critical risk level community.

The question is how can the risk of West Nile virus disease and EEE be reduced; the Massachusetts Department of Health has published the following:

  • Surveillance – regular testing of mosquitoes for the virus
  • Education and Outreach – education of the public about what steps they can take to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around their home (e.g., source reduction), and how to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes (e.g., repair window screens in your home, wear clothing that covers your skin when outside, use effective mosquito repellent, etc.)
  • Source reduction – elimination of potential breeding sites by emptying water from containers such as garbage cans, flower pots, birdbaths, and discarded auto tires
  • Larviciding – the application of chemicals or bacterial products (or larvicides) to mosquito breeding areas to kill or inhibit the growth of mosquito larvae (the early stage of the mosquito) from developing into the adult form
  • Adulticiding – the application of pesticide chemicals to kill the adult form of the mosquito. These are applied by truck-mounted sprayers or aerially when the risk of an outbreak is apparent, as indicated by increasing numbers of mosquitoes carrying virus and/or human cases of disease. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Plan’s first emphasis is on prevention and methods of reducing mosquito numbers that avoid the use of adulticides but in high risk situations the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends consideration of the use of adulticide spraying to reduce mosquito numbers. Upton is designated a high risk community.

Many of your questions about if spraying is safe  (health questions, safe for dogs, what about my pool, pregnant woman, fish, etc) can be answered from the Massachusetts Department of Health facts sheet here.

Timothy Deschamps of CMMCP will be making a presentation regarding CMMCP’s mosquito control program at the town meeting on May 9. According to Board of Health member Richard Desjardins the program is “more than just spraying, CMMCP will be cleaning out potential breeding grounds.” The Board of Health was split in their recommendation of spraying for mosquito control but were all in favor of bringing the article before the people to vote on. Desjardins said he has received a lot of calls from people on both sides over the years. Board of Health member Al Holman feels joining the CMMCP “is a good thing to do.”

When asked if residents could exclude their property from spraying Timothy Deschamps, Executive Director of CMMCP responded in an email. Although 3333CMR.03 states exclusions must be done before March 1, CMMCP will accept exclusions at any time when made through the town of Upton.  CMMCP’s ditch management program sends out permission letters to property owners when a project is proposed, and they are free to sign, alter or not sign at all. CMMCP has a full time wetland scientist on staff to administers that program.

CMMCP’s summary of services include:

  • Larval mosquito control
  • Source reduction
  • Ditch maintenance
  • Surveillance
  • Public education
  • Adult mosquito control ~ when adult mosquito populations reach an intolerable level
  • Research and efficacy

image courtes of mmn


About Jennifer Doyle


  1. It’s actually very complex in this busy life to listen news on TV, thus I only use the web for that reason, and obtain the hottest news.

  2. watchoutforwackos says:

    Lara, are you saying if someone dies from EEE has a low immunity issue that that person didn’t matter? What is wrong with you?

  3. lovemykid says:

    http://www.nelson-funeralhome.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=1237108&fh_id=10588 This is the obituary of a young girl who died of EEE. Her parents ask “that our tremendous loss of Maggie Moo bring about awareness of the significant and imminent danger regarding the EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) virus and that actions be taken to prevent this tragedy from happening again.”

  4. Lara Wahl says:

    According to the Cancer statistics Society’s website there were 31,470 confirmed NEW cases of cancer in 2012 JUST in Massachusetts last year. 31,470. Interesting that the word HIGH-RISK is tossed around so many times to conjure up fear here, but no one seems to be on HIGH -ALERT at the fact that so many are being diagnosed with cancer. So tell me does the risk of exposing our selves to these harmful chemicals out-weigh any benefits? 2 deaths huh? And tell me these 2 deaths were most likely people with low-immune and the same individuals who will be put at risk by the spraying risks. If you do the Math there are about 6 million people in Massachusetts. There are roughly 8,000 in Upton. That means last year roughly 41 people contracted cancer. There is no proof that these chemicals are even effective. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-031941.pdf

  5. Mike Penko says:

    The statement that “Upton has again been designated as a high risk level community for mosquito-borne illnesses” needs to be qualified. The MA Department of Public Health estimates risk of mosquito borne illness each year “by integrating historical data and areas of mosquito habitat with current data on positive virus isolations (in humans, mosquitoes, etc) and weather conditions. Risk levels serve as a relative measure of the likelihood of an outbreak of human disease and are updated weekly based on that week’s surveillance data.” Risk levels range from “Remote” to “Critical” and change throughout the mosquito season and from year to year. In the fall of 2012 Upton was ranked as ”Moderate” for West Nile (along with most of the state) and “High” for EEE. Rankings for West Nile in Upton from 2007 to 2011 ranged from “Low” to “Moderate”. Upton was consistently ranked as “Remote” for EEE risk from 2007 to 2011. See this link for a summary of the actual historical data: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/id/epidemiology/researchers/public-health-cdc-arbovirus-surveillance.html

  6. Lara Wahl says:

    FYI The cost is not mentioned at all. This program will cost our town upwards of $100,000 for the 3 years we would be locked in. The other thing it doesn’t mention is that we would be signing over Jurisdiction of the spraying to a private company that handles this. Here are some very important facts that should be taken into consideration before a citizen makes an informed decision. Taken from:


    Q. Why is Mass Audubon concerned about mosquito control practices?
    A. Some mosquito control activities, including pesticide applications and wetland ditching or draining, can:
    harm or kill beneficial creatures (e.g., bees, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, and fish)
    degrade important natural wetland habitats; alter water levels affecting water flows and supplies, and
    degrade water quality.
    In addition to these negative environmental effects, there is insufficient monitoring and reporting to determine whether mosquito control activities as they are routinely conducted in Massachusetts are effective. From a human health perspective, the risks of mosquito-borne disease must be balanced against the risks of human health effects of pesticides. Because mosquitoes breed so rapidly and in so many locations, most mosquito control practices have only local and temporary effects on numbers of biting mosquitoes.

    Adulticiding involves spraying chemical pesticides, such as malathion, resmethrin, or sumithrin (Anvil) to kill flying adult mosquitoes. This method has only short-term local effectiveness, as new mosquitoes soon fly into the area or emerge from breeding pools. Spraying of broad-spectrum pesticides also exposes people, pets, and wildlife to the chemicals. Butterflies, bees, aquatic invertebrates and fish are particularly sensitive to some of the commonly used adulticides.
    Routine spraying for nuisance mosquito control also may lead to pesticide-resistant mosquitoes, which would be more difficult to control in the event of a public health emergency. Pesticide spraying may present some level of human health risk as well, particularly for certain sensitive individuals such as asthmatics. Mass Audubon opposes adulticiding for nuisance control of mosquitoes.
    For information on the health effects of pesticides, contact the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment at (617) 624-5757.
    Larviciding involves application of chemical or bacterial materials to mosquito breeding areas to kill mosquito larvae. Bacillus thuringensis israelensis (Bti) is a toxin producing bacterium that, unlike broad-spectrum chemical pesticides, narrowly targets mosquitoes, midges, and other closely related flies. However, Bti may disrupt the food web in vernal pools where amphibians breed.
    Another commonly used larvicide is methoprene. It is a growth regulator, which acts by interfering with the normal metamorphosis process thereby preventing mosquito (and various other insect) larvae from reaching the adult stage. Methoprene briquettes are often used in catch basins, because they provide a much longer duration of control than Bti.
    Q. How effective are mosquito control practices?
    A. The effectiveness of mosquito control in a rural or suburban landscape with large amounts of wetlands is questionable. There is little documentation of the effectiveness of mosquito control activities in Massachusetts, and most of the available information is on short-term effects within a few days after pesticide applications.
    Pesticide applications and wetland ditching or draining can harm or kill beneficial species (including pollinators and mosquito predators), alter water chemistry; lower water levels, and degrade wetland habitats. The high reproductive rate and short life-cycle of mosquitoes may allow populations to evolve which are resistant to the pesticides, while local populations of mosquito predators (such as frogs, fish, and predatory insects) are less resilient.
    The mosquitoes of greatest concern for WNV transmission breed primarily in small isolated areas, such as buckets, old tires, and tree hollows. Therefore, local efforts to manage WNV should focus on prevention and removal of human-created breeding habitats.

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