Insects Wanted!

Published in For the Common Good

Poisons, definitely not! Eco Hvar's campaign against the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides to kill off unwanted insects and other 'pests' began many years ago.

In Croatia, by law, unwanted pests which are potentially health-harming have to be limited or preferably eliminated. However, current practices, both by public authorities and individuals are causing a mass extermination of insects and interdependent wildlife, which is nothing short of catastrophic. And, by law, this should not be happening. As from the summer of 2017, Eco Hvar has been writing to relevant Ministries, Institutes and local Authorities, pointing out deficiencies in the practice of the Pest Suppression Programme. By the summer of 2018, reactions from the Minister for Health and various sections of his Ministry, including the Split-Dalmatia County Institute for Public Health, made it clear that our evidence was being ignored because the Ministry's Inspectors had not reported that anything in the practice was amiss. Clearly the Ministry Inspectors were not observing the practices from the same standpoint as us.

Our researches and observations revealed that there were many failings in the practices which should have been controlled by the Directive for the Implementation of the Pest Suppression Programme. Our main concern has been for the insects, as insect loss is a major problem all over the world where chemical pesticides are used in quantity. As the Pest Suppression Programme includes rodenticide measures, we have included our concerns about these alongside worries about insecticide use. 

The urgent changes which we are seeking:

1. revision of the Directive (NN 76/12) Clause 2 Article 10, to exclude items 2-7, which make all insects possible targets for suppression; this would revert to the intentions of the original Law (NN 60/92);

2.  that better, environmentally acceptable methods of suppressing unwanted 'pests' should be identified and used.

3. the work of the Inspectors for the implementation of the Insect Suppression Programme should be more strictly monitored;

4. 'fogging' actions should be advertised openly, clearly and transparently, with the warnings in other languages besides Croatian;

5. poisons to be used for widespread applications across public areas should be identified and listed, together with their possible ill-effects;

6. the exact route of the 'fogging' vehicle should be published;

7. rodenticides should not be delivered free of charge to the general public as a matter of course;

8. rat poisons which are delivered on request should be in secure, numbered boxes, and a record kept of the recipient;

9. the poisons should be identified and listed, together with their possible ill-effects, and all instructions should be in other languages besides Croatian;

10. the company which is authorized to distribute rat poisons must collect the boxes after use;

11. all chemical poisons authorized for use in Croatia should be clearly identified together with their possible ill-effects in every type of information service and in all places where they are sold;

12. that attention should be given to the key issue of educating all those who use the various chemical pesticides as to their possible ill-effects;

Details of the Pest Suppression Programme during 2017 and 2018 in three of the four regions of Hvar Island.

We received a belated response from the Sućuraj Mayor dated 20th March 2019, providing evidence of multiple raticide measures, but just one insecticide action with the neonicotinoid Quick Bayt against flies on the local rubbish dump. The Split-Dalmatia County Institute for Public Health did not include any information about Sućuraj in its responses to our requests, although this Council theoretically comes under its control. The chart below shows the amounts of pesticides used and the annual costs to the local communities in the other three island regions of Hvar Town, Stari Grad and the Jelsa Council.

POSSIBLE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE PESTICIDES USED IN THE DDD PROGRAMME AROUND HVAR, STARI GRAD, JELSA, 2017 - 2018

Note: for updated, comprehensive information about the pesticides and their approval status, please see our articles 'Pesticide Products in Croatia' and 'Pesticides and their adverse effects'

RATICIDE. (European Chemicals Agency approval code PT14 rodenticides)

RATIMOR (granules and wax blocks). Active ingredient BROMADIOLONE. Rodenticide - anticoagulant - superwarfarin - 4-hydroxycoumarin vitamin K antagonist anticoagulant poison.
Possible adverse effects: Acutely toxic, can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or via skin contact; may damage fertility or the unborn child; can cause organ damage in humans; highly toxic to fish and aquatic life, also to earthworms.
EU: Approved 01.06.2011, expiry 31.05.2021. ECHA: approved, PT14, 01/07/2011 - 30/06/2024.

INSECTICIDES (ECHA approval code PT18)

AQUATAIN AMF. Silicone-based liquid larvicide (film over the surface of standing water causes pupae and larvae to suffocate)
Possible adverse effects: can damage non-target organisms which depend on the water surface for respiration and movement.
EU: European Commission exempted Aquatain from registration due to its mode of action.
 
CIPEX 10E, MICROFLY: active ingredient CYPERMETHRIN, synthetic pyrethroid.
Possible adverse effects: classified as a possible cause of cancer in humans; very toxic to cats, bees, aquatic insects and fish, and to a lesser degree to birds.; in humans, can give rise to numbness, burning, loss of bladder control, vomiting, loss of co-ordination, coma, seizures, and (rarely) death.
EU: Permit 01.03.2006, expired 31.10.2018. Still under review, Cypermethrin was re-approved in August 2018, subject to stringent conditions. ECHA: Approved, PT18, 01/06/2020 - 31/05/2030, but no approved biocidal products listed as at 12th February 2019.
 
PERMEX 22E active ingredients PERMETHRIN and TETRAMETHRIN, synthetic pyrethroids.
With synergist (inert substance / mixer): PIPERONYL BUTOXIDE (PBO)
PERMETHRIN Possible adverse effects: classified as a potential carcinogen for humans; linked to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma; poisonous to cats, also other animals: highly toxic to bees, sea organisms, fish; in humans, can cause neurological damage, also problems in the immune and endocrine systems.
EU: not approved. ECHA: Approved, PT18, 01/05/2016 - 30/04/2025 with 11 approved products listed as at 12th February 2019. The list did not include Permex 22E or Permex 22EC.
TETRAMETHRIN Possible adverse effects: potential human carcinogen, also can cause dizziness, breathing difficulties, coughing, eye irritation, gastrointestinal upset, blisters and skin rashes; extremely toxic to bees and aquatic organisms, including fish and aquatic invertebrates.
EU / ECHA: not approved, as at 12th February 2019.
PIPERONYL BUTOXIDE (PBO) Possible adverse effects: toxic to fish; may delay mental development in infants; animal studies show possible damage, including tumours, in mice and rats.
ECHA: Approved, PT18, 01/07/2018 - 30/06/2028
 
MUHOMOR active ingredient AZAMETHIPHOS. Organophosphate, designed for use on target areas, not for spraying in the air; mainly used against flies in enclosed spaces, on horses, cattle, pigs and chickens.
Possible adverse effects: very toxic to aquatic life, with long-lasting effects; toxic to birds; acutely toxic to humans if swallowed or inhaled; can cause headache, weakness, nervousness, sweating, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Exposure to extremely high levels may result in muscular twitching, eye pain, slurred speech, colic, hyper-salivation, heart complaints, breathing difficulties, convulsions and unconsciousness; also causes eye and skin irritation on contact
EU, not approved ECHA: (PT18) not approved. NOT INCLUDED IN THE LIST OF APPROVED SUBSTANCES IN THE PROGRAMMES OR IMPLEMENTATION PLANS FOR 2017 AND 2018 ISSUED BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTE FOR THE SPLIT-DALMATIA COUNTY, which, in theory at least, regulate how the Pest Control Programme is carried out.
 
BATURAD active ingredient BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS ISRAELENSIS (Bti), soil bacterium.
Possible adverse effects: possibly interferes with reproduction in birds; can cause eye and skin irritation in humans and animals; may disturb essential wetland organisms; long-term use perhaps causes loss of biodiversity in the environment.
EU: Approved 01.05.2009, expiry 30.04.2019, extended to 30/04/2020. ECHA: Approved PT18 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2023
 
DIMILIN: active ingredient DIFLUBENZURON, benzamide insecticide, Insect Growth Regulator (Disruptor) (IGR).
Possible adverse effects: Highly toxic to freshwater and marine invertebrates; moderately toxic to fish and earthworms; slightly toxic to birds; affected haemoglobin in animal studies; can cause breathing difficulties in humans; direct contact can be harmful to skin and eyes; metabolites are possible human carcinogens.
EU: Approved 01.01.2009, expiry 31.12.2018, extended to 31st December 2019. ECHA: Approved PT18 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2025.

QUICKBAYT: active ingredients IMIDACLOPRID, neonicotinoid, and TRICOSENE, chemical compound: muscalure, Z-9-tricosene, cis-tricos-9-ene, muscamone

IMIDACLOPRID: Possible adverse effects: very toxic to bees, birds, also aquatic life and aquatic environments, with long-lasting effects; can affect reproduction and development in humans; possibly associated with autism spectrum disorder; moderately toxic to mammals, fish and earthworms; persists in soil.
EU: Approved to 31/07/2022, restricted for certain flowering crops. ECHA: Approved, PT18, 01/07/2013 - 30/06/2023.
TRICOSENE: Possible adverse effects: Irritant to skin and eyes on contact; inhalation can cause irritation to the respiratory tract; highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates
EU: Not approved; ECHA: Approved PT19, repellants and attractants, 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2024.

We have based our observations on Hvar, because we have first-hand experience here. However, overuse of chemical pesticides is a nationwide problem, which is causing widespread harm to both people and the environment in our beautiful country. So we hope that the need for change is finally recognised, and better practices are implemented as a matter of urgency. This would be in the best interests of our beloved country.

© Vivian Grisogono 2018, updated December 2019.

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Summer sounds of insects and birds on Hvar: enjoy, give thanks, don't kill! Video: Vivian Grisogono
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