“What we’re doing is spraying for mosquitoes to reduce the risk of people becoming sick. That’s our focus, our mission,” Card said. “We have to follow all the regulations. ... That’s our driving force, to protect the public as best we can.”
Card’s agency sprays insecticide from trucks after dark, when the chemicals can come in direct contact with mosquitoes, he said. This summer, they’ve used an insecticide called Duet, which targets adult mosquitoes.
The trucks are equipped with a GPS device, which alerts the driver to any addresses that have opted out of spraying.
It’s best if residents contact their city or town hall before March 1 each year to opt out of spraying, so their addresses can be loaded into the database early, Card said. As the season goes on, it gets harder to keep track of those who opt out.
“We do the best we can (to avoid addresses that opt out late in the season),” he said. “It looks like these viruses are going to be here year after year, and people have to start thinking about that, adjusting to that.”
At the same time, residential beekeeping is growing in popularity on the North Shore. The Essex County Beekeepers Association has 324 members. The group’s Introduction to Beekeeping class sells out every year, Girard said.
“It’s more common than people think,” said Deeley, who is the Essex County bee inspector. “Most likely, if you see a honeybee, it’s from somebody’s hive (a residential beekeeper). Not always, but most likely.”
Jane Wild, the vice president of the beekeepers’ association, and her husband have been raising bees at their West Newbury home since 1991. They have been chemical-free for eight years.
“Duet is not only harmful to the bees who are vital to our food source, it’s not good for humans either,” Wild added. “Not only is it fatal to honeybees, but to fish, other aquatic life and the birds. We are setting things out of balance. The fish eat the mosquitoes, their eggs and larvae and the birds get exposed to the pesticide. We are all players in the chain of life. We unwisely try to address problems with use of chemicals.”