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Pesticide Spray in Summerland
updated: Mar 13, 2014, 10:10 AM

By Todd Bebb of Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association

There are plans in the works to spray pesticides in Summerland, and bees -- which are critical to our existence too -- may be in the crossfire. Please read, and act!

The Calif Dept of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has announced that it has detected Asian citrus psyllids (ACPs) in Summerland. These psyllids are known to carry a disease called HLB, which is deadly to citrus. However, please note: although ACPs have been found in Santa Barbara County, HLB has not.

The state's response is to spray psyllid areas with a variety of pesticide compounds, one of which -- imidacloprid -- is highly toxic to bees. (Indeed, it's been banned in the EU.) Many of these sprays have been associated with major bee die-offs (colony collapses). There was a major bee die-off in Montecito in 2012, so the bees in our area are already endangered. The CDFA took this heavy-handed spraying approach in Goleta last year, even though -- again -- no HLB had been detected in the County. They are planning to do the same in Summerland and will be notifying homeowners of planned spray dates soon. Homeowners will be notified by mail if their properties are targeted for spraying. (For the area being targeted, see the attached maps.)

Since HLB itself has not been detected in our County, the plan to use such powerful, bee-toxic pesticides is overkill, literally. It's important to know: property owners are allowed to opt out of spraying. There are non-toxic alternatives to controlling ACPs, including ladybugs!

The Summerland Citizens Association urges members who are notified of planned spraying to OPT OUT. The SCA position is that this is the best option until more information is available as to the nature of the threat involved and the range of alternatives that are available to manage ACP infestation.

Here are some ways you can help protect bees:

OPT OUT: Homeowners can opt out and must post a clear message to that effect on their doors. (You can also call the CDFA hotline at 800-491-1899 for more information.). NOTE: Neighbors are not notified, meaning that with the narrow Summerland properties, pesticide drift across property borders is assured. So if you think your neighbors are in the target zone identified below, talk to them and encourage them to opt out also.

Attend a meeting: Pacifica is hosting a meeting with CDFA staff, to address residents' questions. The meeting with be held on March 13, Thursday, at 5:30 pm on the Ladera campus: 801 Ladera Lane, Administration Bldg, Room G. The meeting ends at 7 pm.

The Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association is eager to help people targeted for spraying to opt out. For more information visit their website: SBBA.org

Please spread the word in Summerland to help save the bees!


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