Montgomery Co. residents concerned about mosquito control chemicals

Conroe resident finds hundreds of dead bees on doorstep of her home

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - Some Montgomery County residents are worried about the effect new aggressive mosquito control tactics are having on beneficial insects like bees.

Jackie Ingram said she found hundreds of dead bees on the doorstep of her Conroe home Monday morning.

"We opened the door sending the kids off to school first day and there's a ton of dead bees all on the front porch for no apparent reason," Ingram said.

That weekend Montgomery County began aerial spraying over her neighborhood using an Food and Drug Administration-approved chemical called Dibrom.

The county has had 13 human cases of West Nile virus and one death. The aerial spraying was a last ditch emergency effort to get the upper hand on the mosquitos that spread the disease.

Montgomery County Emergency Management said Dibrom does not pose a significant risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects. But at a meeting last week Montgomery County commissioners expressed concerns about the chemical.

The chief pilot for Vector Disease Control Incorporated, the company contracted to do the aerial spraying tried to allay their fears.

"The droplets are so small one droplet would kill a mosquito but it would take a hundred drops to kill a bee," Malcolm Williams told the commissioners court on Aug. 18.

But Ingram isn't convinced.

"I believe it really is harmful. I've never had bees act this way or come up to my front porch to die and not by the hundreds," said Ingram. "Bees are way too important to humans, one-third of our food is pollinated by bees. It just makes me very nervous."

David Staggs, who sells raw local honey along F.M. 1488 in Montgomery County, said he is nervous, too.

"Anytime you mix chemicals and you intend to kill one pest such as mosquitoes without harming another species such as a bee, I think it's a chess match," Staggs said. "I think they should be aware that the bee population should remain healthy, and exhaust every effort to make sure they use good products and keep the bees safe."

The vice president of Vector Disease Control Incorporated told Local 2 he's never experienced a mass die off of a species that was not specifically targeted by aerial spraying. He said the company takes this incident very seriously and will work with Montgomery County to test samples of the dead bees to see if they were exposed to Dibron.

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