TRENTON, N.J. – All 21 New Jersey counties should have mosquito control commissions, says Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer.
Sawyer’s bill (A4344), recently introduced to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, would require county commissioners (formerly freeholders) to establish mosquito control commissions. The bill also sets parameters for funding the commission, based on countywide assessed valuations. State aid appropriations would be available to every county for airplane spraying for mosquito extermination, something only allowed for counties bordering the Atlantic Ocean under current law.
“Mosquitos are more than pests that drive people indoors on those gorgeous summer nights everyone wants to sit outside at dusk without being bathed in DEET or inhaling citronella fumes,” Sawyer (R-Gloucester) said. “They’re vectors that can make our most vulnerable residents very ill. That’s why mitigation efforts are so important for the entire state.”
One-third of the 63 species of mosquito that call the Garden State home feed on human blood. Three species are most likely to attack humans: the Asian Tiger, which may carry Zika, West Nile Virus, yellow fever, and encephalitis; the White-footed Woods, which transmits West Nile and Venezuelan equine encephalitis; and the Cattail, while not associated with any diseases but packs a painful bite.
Mosquitoes are most active April through October, and lay their eggs in stagnant water.
Currently, only four counties—Camden, Middlesex, Ocean, and Warren—have mosquito control commissions, although every county has a mosquito control or extermination entity. New Jersey, through its Department of Environmental Protection, operates the State Mosquito Control Commission, a 10-member commission that monitors mitigation activities across the state. The state commission not only makes policy recommendations to the governor and state legislature, but reviews municipal and county mitigation plans to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
Sawyer’s bill would require each county commission to report their best management practices for mosquito control and bodies of water maintenance to the State Mosquito Control Commission annually.