PESP Information


Should your mosquito control district be recognized for encouraging environmental stewardship?


The Northeastern Mosquito Control Association has been a partner in the EPA's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) under the auspices of the AMCA since 2002.  The emphasis of this program is to reduce any risk associated with pesticide use.  Partners are recognized for their work in this area.  The AMCA is currently accepting applications from individual districts that wish to become partners in PESP. 


Steps an individual mosquito district needs to take to become a PESP partner under the auspices of the AMCA:


1.  You must become a sustaining member of the AMCA


What do you receive with a sustaining membership?

¨      1 regular or 2 associate memberships

¨      Contribution to legislative advocacy

¨      Member rate registration of all agency personnel at AMCA meetings

¨      AMCA sustaining membership certificate

¨      Recognition in AMCA newsletter

¨      Recognition at annual meetings

¨      Bimonthly sustaining member e-newsletter discussing legislative updates.


2.  Submit letter of interest and background document describing the work done by your agency to Gabrielle Sakolsky, Chair, PESP Working Group (


What benefits are derived from becoming a partner?

¨      You show your commitment to reducing any risk associated with the use of pesticides.

¨      Partners can advertise their status by affixing the PESP logo to their educational brochures & web site pages, etc.  They cannot, however, use it on their business cards and letters.

¨      Individual partners that fall under the umbrella of a regional partner are not required to do any additional reporting as they already document the Strategy Activities and provide them to the regional partner.

¨      Initial partnership certificate and annual partnership certificate will be provided by the AMCA.

¨      Individual partners have a voice in the PESP activities of the AMCA.


The PESP working group will then vote to endorse your organization’s membership in the PESP and submit your request to the AMCA board for acceptance into the program.


Once accepted partners must complete an annual survey with details on their organizations participation in highlighted strategies.  The current strategy document can be found at the following link


The district's background document should follow the format of the NMCA background document, which will be made available upon request (or check below). Doug and I would be able to assist districts with this process. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Gabrielle Sakolsky, Asst. Superintendent

Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project

86 Willow Street

Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

fax:  508-362-7917

phone:  508-775-1510



PESP Background document


Please cut and past onto your letterhead, and change the document to reflect your agency – please contact Gabi for additional information.










SUBMITTED TO:  The American Mosquito Control Association


Northeastern Mosquito Control Association

Contact:  Gabrielle Sakolsky

            Cape Cod Mosquito Control

            86 Willow Street

            Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

Phone:  508-775-1510



March 2002





Chapter VII of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) "Partnership Strategy Document" (PSD) provides for qualified member organizations to attain PESP partnership status under the auspices of the AMCA.  This "Background Document" has been developed by the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association (NMCA), a sustaining member and affiliate of the AMCA, to meet a requirement of the revised Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) format that was instituted in July 1999.  This document will describe the current policies and organizational structure of the NMCA and present a brief overview of the general control practices of its member agencies.  This "Background Document" will also describe how the NMCA will strive to improve its ongoing policy of encouraging environmental stewardship by its members. 



The NMCA is a non-profit, technical, scientific and educational association. NMCA membership includes mosquito control personnel, entomologists, medical personnel, engineers, public health officials, industry representatives, military officers and personnel and laymen who are charged with, or interested in, the biology and control of mosquitoes as well as other vectors.  The NMCA is made up of members from the New England states (CT, MA, ME, NH,RI, and VT) as well as New York and New Jersey.  The objectives of the NMCA, as spelled out in the Association's Constitution, are as follows:


A.        To promote the efficacy of mosquito abatement and related activities, through the encouragement of research, development of procedures, and the

            exchange of information

B.        To circulate among its members and other interested parties, pertinent knowledge relative to mosquito abatement and related subjects.

C.        To encourage field trips and meetings of the members.


The NMCA, since its inception in 1955, has worked to provide a forum for its members, the purpose of which is to exchange information relative to the most effective mosquito control methods available.  The most widely accepted method for achieving effective control is Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  All IPM approaches start with the concept of knowing your pest and determining, based on a cost-benefit ratio, whether the identified pest has reached a threshold beyond which harm will occur.  In this day and age, a cost-benefit analysis must include potential environmental impacts before an intervention may incur.  Therefore the NMCA encourages its members, through education and research, to use the most effective, yet least environmentally intrusive, methods of intervention.  We believe our objectives are consistent with those of the PESP which is why we are applying for partnership under the auspices of the AMCA.



While it is not possible to provide a concise, generic overview of all mosquito control programs in the Northeastern United States, there are certain program components which virtually all operational programs employ.  Member mosquito control agencies typically follow an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach when involved with control efforts.  A "typical" Mosquito Control IPM program will include a combination of resource management techniques such as source reduction (=permanent control), larviciding and adulticiding to control mosquito populations which will be implemented based on surveillance data. Biological control is also used to some extent by some programs.  These control measures are necessary during periods of nuisance mosquito outbreaks as well as when an epidemic of a mosquito-transmitted pathogen is evident. Continuing education, for both employees and the general public, are important IPM components of most mosquito control programs.  These educational efforts have resulted in a more informed public and, at the same time, increased the professionalism among mosquito control workers with significant progress being made toward reducing pesticide use and risk.


            A. MOSQUITO SURVEILLANCE.    Surveillance is the basis of an IPM plan.  Mosquito control programs use surveillance to determine if an intervention is needed, what type of intervention is needed, and if the intervention measures were successful.  Surveillance can be conducted using a number of different methods.  Larval surveillance is usual done using a standard (350 ml) dipper and taking a set number of dips at random locations in potential larval habitat.  Mosquito larvae are counted and identified to determine if a preventative action is warranted.  Adult mosquito populations can be monitored using a number of different methods.  Whereas complaints from the public can be indicative of a mosquito problem,  mosquito control programs use a number of quantitative and qualitative techniques to determine when action should be taken to reduce an adult mosquito population.  Landing rate per minute counts reflect the number of human biting mosquitoes host-seeking in a particular area.  Many mosquito control programs also use baited and non-baited light traps to measure trends in adult mosquito populations.  Adult mosquito surveillance is an important tool for evaluating the efficacy of any action taken to control mosquitoes and is used frequently by our members for that purpose.


Disease surveillance is conducted by mosquito control personnel to establish intervention thresholds. These population thresholds are then used to determine if increased control activities are necessary. Knowledge of mosquito population densities can improve a mosquito control or public health  agencies' ability to respond appropriately. In the Northeastern United States, surveillance is being conducted for a number of mosquito-transmitted pathogens including the viruses that can cause human illness such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Highlands J (a precursor indicator virus for EEE), and West Nile Encephalitis. Surveillance for the above-mentioned pathogens varies from state to state but includes the following:

    -   Population density measurements of potential vector mosquito species
    -   Monitoring of meteorological events
    -   Prevalence of infected mosquitoes in field samples
    -   Virus activity in the preceding year in an adjacent surveillance region
    -   Regular serological testing of sentinel vertebrates
    -   Isolation of virus from wild or sentinel vertebrates
    -   Monitoring human cases of mosquito-transmitted disease

            B.  SOURCE REDUCTION.  Source reduction (the removal or reduction of larval mosquito habitats) typically is the most effective method of mosquito control. Economically speaking, source reduction is preferred since it permanently eliminates a mosquito breeding source which otherwise would require repeated, and increasingly expensive, pesticide applications.  Long-term source reduction can be as simple as overturning a discarded bucket or disposing of a waste tire or as complex as water level manipulations in marshes. Source reduction often minimizes, and in many cases eliminates, the need for mosquito larviciding in the affected habitat with the added benefit of a reduction in adulticiding in nearby residential areas.  Source reduction, as a mosquito control strategy, incorporates numerous activities including the removal of waste debris (sanitation) and Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM), all of which result in significant mosquito control when properly planned based on adequate surveillance data.


                        SANITATION.  Discarded containers and tires are capable of producing mosquitoes, including species that can transmit several forms of mosquito- borne pathogens.  Sanitation resulting in the removal of water-holding debris is a continual process that successfully eliminates man-made mosquito breeding.  Typically, such mosquito control-related sanitation efforts are best accomplished by individuals who, through their own carelessness, create mosquito-breeding problems on their own property.  Many mosquito control agencies distribute educational materials which target these individuals as in an effort to teach them the importance of sanitation as it relates to mosquito control around their homes.


1.                                                OPEN MARSH WATER MANAGEMENT (OMWM). The ditching of salt marshes (i.e., drainage) as a form of source reduction for mosquito control has been used since the early 1900's.  A more environmentally-compatible source reduction technique which is applied to many coastal areas of the U.S. and other countries is called Open Marsh Water Management.  OMWM is a strategy whereby larval mosquito-breeding locations on the marsh surface are identified and connected to deeper water habitat (e.g., tidal creeks, deep ditches) using shallow ditches. In areas where multiple mosquito-breeding depressions occur, shallow ponds are created. Mosquito broods are thus controlled without pesticides by allowing larvivorous fish access to these mosquito-producing depressions or conversely by the tidal of these locations before adult mosquitoes can emerge.   OMWM has the added advantage of improving the hydrologic connections between the marsh, and the associated estuary, providing natural resource enhancement as well as mosquito control benefits. OMWM is considered more environmentally acceptable than systematic drainage or pesticide applications because the shallow ponds and ditches decrease the occurrence of unnatural hydrologic impacts to the marsh.

 In recent years, aggressive interagency cooperation involving environmental resource agencies and private organizations working in conjunction with mosquito control agencies has resulted in very successful salt marsh management for both mosquito control and natural resource restoration concerns.


            C.  LARVICIDING.  Larviciding (the application of insecticides to kill mosquito larvae or pupae employing ground or aerial equipment), although less permanent than source reduction, is typically more effective and more target-specific than adulticiding.  Several materials in various formulations are labeled for mosquito larviciding and include "biorational" larvicides - Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and Bacillus sphaericus (Bs) (two bacterial larvicides), and methoprene (Altosid®, an insect growth regulator), larvicidal oils (Golden Bear® - petroleum based and Bonide® - mineral based), and a monomolecular surface film (Agnique).


An important goal, when applying these larvicides, is to use products that are as specific as possible for mosquito larvae thus minimizing impacts to non-target organisms. In addition, these products must, in many instances, be capable of penetrating dense vegetative canopies. Towards these ends, larvicide formulations such as liquids and granules must be appropriate to the habitat being treated, accurately applied and based on surveillance data.

An effective larviciding program is an important part of an integrated mosquito control operation.  Accuracy of these applications is important since missing even a relatively small area can result in the emergence of a large mosquito brood resulting in the need for more broad-scale adulticiding.


Aerial larviciding has greatly reduced or eliminated the need for routine adulticide applications in some coastal and inland areas.

            D. ADULTICIDING.  Adulticiding (the application of insecticides to kill adult mosquitoes by ground or aerial applications) is usually the least efficient mosquito control technique and frequently is used as a last resort. Nevertheless, adulticiding, based on surveillance data, is an extremely important part of any IPM program and should be undertaken utilizing the minimum amount of insecticide that will be effective in controlling the target mosquito species. Adulticides are typically applied as an Ultra-Low-Volume (ULV) application where small amounts of insecticide are dispensed by properly maintained and calibrated truck-mounted equipment or from fixed-wing or rotary aircraft.


Mosquito adulticiding differs fundamentally from efforts to control many other adult insects.  For adult mosquito control, insecticide must drift through the habitat in which mosquitoes are "on-the-wing" (i.e., flying - frequently in residential areas) in order to provide optimal control benefits.  This technique, however, has been criticized because of the potential for impacts to non-target organisms. This is a constant consideration for control programs, and the use of adulticides must be used judiciously. Even with this concern, experience has shown that adulticides when properly applied, have minimal impacts on non-target organisms while providing an important public health, economic and quality of life benefits to local citizens.

Adulticides labeled for mosquito control in the NE include natural pyrethrins, synthetic pyrethroids (permethrin, resmethrin and sumithrin), organophosphates (malathion, naled and fenthion) and a carbamate (bendiocarb).

            E.  BIOLOGICAL CONTROL.  Biological control (=biocontrol) employs biological organisms, or their by-products, to control pests, in this case insect pests.   Biocontrol is popular in theory because of its potential to be host-specific with virtually no non-target effects.  Overall, larvivorous fish are the most extensively used biocontrol agent for mosquito control.  Predacious fish, typically Gambusia species, which occur naturally in many aquatic habitats, can be introduced into permanent and/or semi-permanent water bodies where mosquito larvae occur providing some measure of control. Other species of larvivorous fishes native to New England, including species of sunfish, freshwater killifish and other minnows should be researched for efficacy and hardiness and reared and stocked in appropriate areas.


            F.  EDUCATION.  Education is a primary goal of the NMCA.  We are concerned with both the education of the membership as well as the general public.  The education of Association members is conducted primarily through an annual meeting and quarterly newsletters, as well as committee meetings and informal meetings.  Members are strongly encouraged to publish findings of pertinent research and operational control strategies in peer-reviewed journals and other media. Many of our members distribute this information by conducting educational programs on the local level as well.  These members visit schools, speak at civic meetings, man booths at health fairs and other public events, and conduct one-on-one education with property owners wherever a problem may exist.

IV.       NMCA'S SUPPORT OF ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP.  The NMCA has a long history of supporting environmental stewardship and many of our members have made great strides in this area.  The following are examples of this work in relation to the activities listed in the AMCA background document (July 2000).

            1. Implementation of environmentally-sound source reduction techniques.

Following the lead of mosquito control in New Jersey, several states throughout New England have employed the use of OMWM with great success. OMWM techniques have evolved into a more integrated approach of wetland management to become widely recognized not only for mosquito source reduction but also for their restoration qualities in reducing or eliminating the invasive common reed (Phragmites), enhancing wetland wildlife habitat and restoring severely degraded salt marshes.  In 1996, OMWM efforts were awarded the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration award in recognition of 450 acres of salt marsh restored.  OMWM project partnerships with agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, MA DEP Wetlands Restoration Program, New England Interstate Commission, US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal America Program, CT Office of Long Island Sound Programs, EPA's 319 Non-Point Source Pollution Program, Ducks Unlimited, and others have generated significant mosquito control and wetlands preservation interests.  Cooperative efforts with EPA have assisted in the installation and related hydrological connections of 12 Self-Regulating Tide Gates (SRT) in Massachusetts, more than in all of New England combined.

            2.  Continuing education of mosquito workers.

One of the objectives of the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association, as defined in the enabling constitution, is the education of its members.  The NMCA organizes an annual meeting at which up-to-date vector research from academic institutions as well as the field studies and operational information are offered to the members.  Attendance at this meeting has been approved by many member states as qualifying for continuing education credits towards a pesticide applicator's license.  In addition to the annual meeting the NMCA publishes a quarterly newsletter, the Northeaster, that contains updates on work being conducted throughout the region and other pertinent submitted articles.

            3.  Public education.

Members of the NMCA routinely organize informational sessions for the public.  Many of the member mosquito control agencies have outreach programs that they conduct in the local school systems. The NMCA is in the process of developing standardized information that can be provided to educators.  Many mosquito control programs also have written pamphlets for distribution to homeowners and the general public that detail commonly asked questions about mosquitoes, personal protection, insecticides and other methods used in mosquito control, and mosquito-borne diseases. NMCA, as well as the individual member states, also have web sites with useful information and links to other sites.


            4.  Surveillance of mosquito-transmitted pathogens.

Many members of the NMCA are public health officials whose primary job is to conduct surveillance of mosquito-transmitted pathogens in their respective states.  Information presented at the annual meeting by these members allows the employees of mosquito districts to enhance the surveillance already being conducted by public health agencies.  Individual mosquito control agencies buy or build and deploy traps each year to monitor adult mosquito populations and examine species composition.  Collections of mosquito species of public health importance can then be submitted to health agencies for testing.