Santa Cruz spraying begins

After several days of delay, the spraying of our home town has begun. We could hear the plans overhead last night. From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

After four straight nights of no-show due to fog, planes took to the skies over Santa Cruz County and sprayed a pesticide in residential areas in an attempt to wipe out the light brown apple moth, a crop-eating bug that's capable of causing millions of dollars in damage to California's agricultural industry.

And of course, that's what this was all about: the California agriculture industry. From other reports I have read or heard, the issue was California produce being embargoed by other states/countries rather than actual reported damage.

“I just wish people would come out and say it, that this moth isn't really causing any problems but it's all a matter of protecting California and international trade,” said the owner of Central Coast Wilds Nursery in Santa Cruz. “Because so far this moth hasn't caused the slightest bit of damage anywhere.”

Another question in my mind is about one of our local prides, the monarch butterflies (featured in this week's Wordless Wednesday). Pheromones are generally specific to a species, so should not disrupt the butterflies, but the fact that the product being sprayed is a mystery makes it difficult to say for sure – the same reason it makes us uneasy about its affect on humans and other animals.

I still have yet to hear any reports on the safety for pets and other animals. We at CatSynth are of course still worried for outdoor animals, like stray cats and wildlife, and children and adults with health issues. At least we have been keeping the windows closed at night…

Aerial Spraying in Santa Cruz – Yikes!

I was innocently listening to news headlines on Democracy Now this morning (if such a thing is actually possible), when I heard this:

In California, a judge has given the green light to a controversial pesticide spraying in Santa Cruz County. On Thursday, Superior Court judge Paul Burdick rejected the county?s restraining order because he said it could not prove the spraying would harm the public. The chemical, Checkmate LBAM-F, will be used to halt the light brown apple moth. Checkmate?s manufacturer, Oregan-based Suterra, has refused to release the ingredients of the pesticide and petitioned the courts to keep them secret. One hundred residents on the Monterry Peninsula reported respiratory illness after a similar chemical was sprayed there in September.

SPROING! What's up with that? Well, our local paper The Santa Cruz Sentinel confirms it:

A trio of state-owned planes will begin spraying a pesticide next week in Santa Cruz County to halt the spread of the light brown apple moth, an invasive pest the state says is capable of causing millions of dollars in crop damage if it is not stopped soon.

Aerial maps from the California Department of Agriculture confirm that Santa Cruz city and CatSynth HQ are probably in the spray zone, and that spraying will occur overnight starting Sunday November 4 through the following Friday (barring rain or other weather that will cause delays).

So OK, just stay indoors, keep our pets indoors, and don't eat anything off the trees for a couple of days, right? Unfortunately, I cannot find a specific advisory of any sort, just notice of the time and location of spraying. Indeed, the biggest problems here are that the health effects, and even the chemical composition of the pesticides, aren't publicly known:

Since similar spraying began on the Monterey Peninsula in September, residents have opposed the aerial spraying because nobody, not even scientists, knows what kind of health effects the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, is capable of having on people…

Fortunately, Luna is an indoor cat. But what about open windows? And what about outdoor animals (strays, farm animals, wildlife)? Unlike some of the folks on the Sentinel's discussion board, we at CatSynth try not to get hysterical about such things, but we would like answers to a few rational questions. For me, it would simply be enough to have more information on health and safety. A simple advisory to stay indoors, and how to protect animals and children, would have been enough. And if there is no reason for such an advisory, say so, and back it up with some data.

Meanwhile, I guess we'll just take our best reasonable guess and stay inside…

and let's NOT crack open a window!