Daily News Archive

Napa CA County School Board Opposes Community Pesticide Use
(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2004)
The Napa County California Board of Education voted unanimously to formally request that the county agricultural commission not use toxic pesticides around school grounds. The request, sent in early October, is specific to any future plans to control the glass-winged sharpshooter, which spreads a disease, known as Pierce's disease, that attacks vineyards and citrus. The story was originally reported in the Napa Valley Register on October 7, 2004.

The school board is playing a leadership role in the county on pesticide policy and protection of children. According to the Register, "The board is the first governmental body in Napa to request such action. Sixteen schools, childcare centers and office buildings are impacted." The board member who championed the effort, Janna Waldinger, said, "Most people just don't know the consequences of neurotoxins (in pesticides)." Glassy-winged sharpshooter colonies have been moving north with armer temperatures and were found in June in Vacaville, closer to Napa County than previously. Because of the economic impact, the insect's control is viewed as essential in controlling the insects that spread of the disease.

According to the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Task Force of Kern and Tulare Counties, "Ornamental trees and shrubs in the infested Vacaville area have been treated with the foliar materials, Merit® (imidacloprid) and Tempo® (cyfluthrin). Merit also has been injected into the soil to provide control for about a year. Soil injections also are being made on nearby properties to prevent the sharpshooter's spread. The insecticides kill both GWSS adults and nymphs when they feed on treated plants. Treated sites included two commercial and 203 residential properties."

In addition, according to GWSS, a biological control agent, Gonatocerus triguttatus, also is being used to help control GWSS. This tiny, stingerless, parasitic wasp deposits its eggs in the larger GWSS egg masses, killing them as the wasps develop. The county released 1,600 wasps into crepe myrtle trees in Vacaville from late August through mid-September."

Environmentalists have urged the adoption of alternative measures that include cultural practices, biological controls, and the use of more benign materials, such as kaolin clay. The California Department of Agriculture has historically recommended the use of carbaryl and synthetic pyrethroids, both controversial because of their neurotoxic properties.