When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners reached a consensus to discontinue a program that sprays for mosquitoes in neighborhoods.

When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners reached a consensus to discontinue a program that sprays for mosquitoes in neighborhoods.

But the city manager will have the authority to authorize the use of the mosquito spraying equipment if he deems it necessary.

Last month, two entomologists visited with city commissioners about the city's mosquito spraying program. They had been invited to meet with commissioners after some residents expressed concern about the program.

Jeff Whitworth, an entomologist with Kansas State University, told commissioners that the spraying may provide relief from mosquitoes for a couple of hours, but the program will not put a big dent in the city's mosquito population.

In addition to mosquito spraying, the city of Leavenworth also uses larvicide to kill mosquitoes in the larval stage.

Whitworth told commissioners that larvicide programs will help control mosquito populations.

For Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Paul Kramer presented an estimate of the costs associated with the city's mosquito spraying and larvicide program. The estimated cost totals $11,572 for a season of the program.

Residents who previously expressed concerns about the program argued the chemical used for mosquito spraying posed a danger to bees and other insects.

Mayor Mark Preisinger said Tuesday that he believes this hypothesis has been proven to be untrue.
But he said the effectiveness of the spraying program is somewhat limited.

"We're not getting any great benefit out of it," he said.

He suggested the city may spray for mosquitoes in a targeted way, such as spraying an area where a festival will take place. But he suggested the city not continue to spray up and down streets.

Preisinger said he believes the larvicide program is good.

Public Works Director Mike McDonald said the problem with the larvicide program is that city employees cannot go onto private property. He said the program is limited to properties under the control of the city.

Preisinger also suggested creating public service announcements with information about ways to combat mosquitoes such as getting rid of standing water.

Commissioner Nancy Bauder agreed the city can spray for mosquitoes for special events but she supports discontinuing the practice of spraying in neighborhoods.

She also suggested the city can make larvicide products available to members of the public.

Bauder also said she does not know if she agrees that the chemical used for mosquito spraying is not dangerous to other insects.

Commissioner Larry Dedeke said he agrees with eliminating the spraying program for two years. At the end of two years, city officials can determine if complaints about mosquitoes have increased.

"Then that's telling you that the spraying is doing something," he said.

Commissioner Mike Griswold asked Kramer for examples of how city officials may use targeted spraying for mosquitoes in the future.

Kramer said the city may spray in areas of standing water from flooding.

"It would be an emergency situation," he said.

Charlsey Filbert, a local resident who has raised concerns about the city's mosquito spraying program, suggested contacting the University of Saint Mary to recruit students to monitor mosquito levels so the city does not automatically return to a spraying program in two years.

McDonald said city crews had planned to finish the spraying program for the season this week. Based on the discussion Tuesday, he said, "We are now done."

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR