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Friday, September 2, 2016

Councillor Snake Babu sprays polydol ... Naled kills millions of bees in South Carolina

Originally from Africa, Zika spread to Asia and was first registered in Brazil in the middle of last year, believed to have been brought to the country by tourists during the World Cup 2014. The virus has since been spreading like wildfire through the northeast thanks in part to the region's widespread poverty, equatorial heat and chronic infestations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue fever and chikungunya.  There was so much of fear and propaganda of the Zika virus deterring sports fans and athletes from attending the Olympic Games at Rio 2016.

Some decades ago, all houses in Triplicane [and other areas like Mylapore, Mambalam, Saidapet] had wells ~ to prevent breeding of mosquitoes, Corporation officials would visit houses and drop some quantity of pesticide in the well. Guppies were bred in temple tanks and other ponds – Corporation official would visit home with a earthern pond having hundreds of fish – and he would drop a handful of them into the well [everytime, we would take few of them and grow them in horlicks bottles ! – their tails were attractive]. Chennai Corporation has been taking many steps to curb mosquito menace ~ a couple of years back, they distributed mosquito nets free as a general mitigation measure. 

Remember a comedy film featuring Madhavan, known for Vadivelu comedy – ‘Aarya’.  Vadivelu is a local councillor [Snake Babu]  .. .. in one move, Snake Babu goes on a drive to get the town rid of mosquitoes and would arrange for spraying of pesticides from his propaganda jeep; his assistant would mix polydol smelling which people would fall on the road !!
pic credit : Indian Express

Away in China, a black bear was  identified as the prime suspect in a case related to stolen honey from a nature reserve in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. The case was solved after the workers at the nature reserve found a footage from an infrared camera which had recorded the “thief”. The bear raided a local farmer’s apiary in the reserve on the night of June 10, taking a bee hive and damaging several others. Workers with the reserve later found some bear prints and excrement in the woods near the apiary, but did not close the case until weeks later when they found the camera on a nearby tree. The footage showed the bear opening the lid of the hive with its mouth, then retreating when a swarm of bees flew out. After confirming the bees were gone, the bear returned and escaped with one of the hives into the woods.

This week, the Monday morning scene at Juanita Stanley’s apiary in Summerville, S.C., was ghastly and stunningly quiet: Everywhere one looked were clumps of honeybees, dead after a dousing on Sunday with the potent pesticide with which the local authorities had intended to kill mosquitoes. For Ms. Stanley and her business, the death toll easily exceeds two million bees, and Dorchester County officials are still tabulating how many more might have been killed when a day of aerial spraying, scheduled to combat mosquitoes that could be carrying viruses like Zika, went awry. The apparently inadvertent extermination, the county administrator said, happened after a county employee failed to notify Ms. Stanley’s business, which the administrator said should have been alerted about the spraying strategy. Some hobbyists were also caught by surprise.

Concerned about the spread of the Zika virus across the South, local officials on Sunday targeted a 15-square mile area of the county, which is near Charleston, with naled. The pesticide, which has been in use in the United States for more than 50 years, is a common tool for mosquito control, but federal officials have said the chemical can be harmful to honeybees while also posing brief risks to aquatic invertebrates and terrestrial wildlife.  Officials in Dorchester County, where four travel-related cases of Zika have been reported, sometimes spray for mosquitoes from the roads, but it is believed that Sunday’s aerial effort was the first of its kind for the county.
spraying photo : USA today

Some bee keepers claimed that their entire business was killed by such spraying. The county had tried to publicize its plans through social media and the local press, however the Apiarists claimed  that officials had long notified about scheduled sprayings delivered by truck. This time,  they were caught unawares  until a firefighter, who is also a beekeeper, showed up sounding them of the death. 

So unintentionally, on the Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers. Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit — in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. The pattern of their death matched acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, at a single apiary — Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville — 46 hives died on the spot, totaling about 2.5 million bees.

A Clemson University scientist collected soil samples from Flowertown on Tuesday, according to WCBD-TV, to further investigate the cause of death. But to the bee farmers, the reason is already clear. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester’s own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes. Spraying Naled from the air is not unprecedented, particularly when covering areas that cannot be reached by truck. .. .. and one thinks of Snake Babu again !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

2nd Sept. 2016. 

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