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The third time's the charm

The Port District of South Whidbey will make its third attempt April 28 to wipe out problem mosquitos.

After discovering Port employees would need extensive training to use pesticides to kill mosquitos at Possession Point Park, the Port sought the advice of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Oregon for a way to eradicate the stinging insects without using a single chemical.

With hopes of educating the Seattle community by stopping the spread of West Nile virus through prevention, NCAP will use Possession Park as an example. NCAP will team up with the Port and KING-5 News on April 28 to give a walk-through on mosquito prevention.

When the Island County Health Department learned in February about the Port's plan to use "mosquito dunks" to poison mosquito larvae at the park, department officials pointed out that doing so would break the law unless those using the dunks were licensed. The Port had planned to use a Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.) treatment at the beachfront park.

Plan B was to sign up Possession Park caretaker Art Pratt for the classes needed to qualify for a license to apply B.t.i. Pratt said he would be required to take year-long classes on chemicals the Port wasn't planning to use.

"I would be learning too much information," said Pratt.

Once the class was completed, Pratt was not guaranteed of passing the test to become licensed.

So on to Plan C, which promises to be pesticide-free, class-free and test-free.

"Our goal is to go totally non-pesticide," said Pratt.

Pratt said NCAP will do a walk-through with the Port to discuss source reduction for mosquitos, carriers of the West Nile virus.

According to Megan Kemple, public education coordinator for NCAP, the focus will be on West Nile intervention. Kemple said they will give ideas to the Port for ways to reduce the mosquito population. Kemple said her organization will look at the where mosquitoes are breeding -- stagnant and standing water -- and will suggest remedies.

Kemple said NCAP hopes to publicize its methods on a King 5 broadcast.

Pratt said NCAP will examine every area where mosquitos breed, including gutters, landscaping, ditches and containers that can hold water. The organization will give recommendations for alternative or natural methods for mosquito control. Encouraging bats or swallows, natural mosquito predators might be a method the Port will encourage, Pratt said.

Pratt's biggest area of concern will be a canal parallel to the beach.

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