Mosquito Abatement Plan for Johnston County

— Written By Katie Moore and last updated by
As a result of the large amount of rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Florence, Johnston County Government made the decision to spray for mosquitoes in the next 3 to 8 days, weather permitting. Bryant Spivey, Director of N.C. Cooperative Extension of Johnston County, and Brandon Parker, Commercial Horticulture Agent, have made sure that agricultural concerns were included in the decision-making process and feel strongly that the upcoming treatment of mosquitoes should not cause issues with our bees and pollinators in Johnston County. In addition, based on sound research, CDC information, and product labels, the selected insecticide is safe for crops and even organic-certification should not be disrupted by the application. Please see the CDC website for more information.
After considering several options the county has decided to treat mosquitos with aerial application using the product Naled. Based upon the information that has been provided by contractors, labels, and other experts, Naled should have very limited impact on honeybees. This information is also supported by a document from the LSU Ag Center, a sister land-grant university and a trusted source.
The expected low-impact to bees is based upon the product being used according to the label. This means that the product will only be applied at night when it is dark and bees are not foraging. Pilots will take off just after dusk and cease application likely around 4 a.m. In addition, the product (Naled) is highly subject to photodegradation. Within minutes of light exposure (sunrise) the product is inactivated and gone. Also, the contractors’ specialized spray equipment will produce extremely small droplets that will essentially hang in the air like smoke or fog with a very limited amount of the material ever reaching the ground. It affects mosquitoes through their contact with the material while flying.
As with many pesticides, you can find negative information concerning bees and Naled but please know that this product has been heavily studied for more than 50 years and is trusted and approved by the EPA and CDC for mosquito treatment with no issues to bees when used according to label. This article from Dr. David Tarpy, NC State University Apiculture Extension Specialist, provides more information on how to protect beehives.
In situations where bees have been killed by Naled applications, investigations have demonstrated that the product was not applied in accordance with the label, but we do feel very strongly that the contractor is well qualified and has the proper equipment. They also come with references from other counties in NC that are doing similar abatement practices.
Beekeepers and organic crop producers in Johnston County and throughout NC are always encouraged to use Driftwatch to register areas where bees or sensitive crops may be located. The contractor is well aware of Driftwatch and they will use that as a tool to identify sensitive areas.
In addition, some beekeepers are planning to cover hives with wet burlap. Based on research, this is probably not very effective or necessary but it will also not harm the hives if beekeepers choose this method.
The county will also do a good job of communicating through the web and Facebook about where spraying will proceed each night. Citizens can also be notified through the JoCo Alert System.
This will likely occur only once in a given part of the county and should be completed in the next week. Weather permitting, it may take 3 to 4 nights to cover the entire county.