July 8, 2013

Pest-killer, Maine law collide

Mainers find dragonflies useful for controlling mosquitoes, but some sellers aren't getting the permits required to import them.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Dragonflies

Should the state try to regulate dragonflies being sold from out-of-state?

Yes

No

View Results

click image to enlarge

A dragonfly rests in a sunny spot last month in Scarborough. The town buys the insects and sells them to local customers for mosquito control, although it doesn’t have a permit to import dragonflies from out of state.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

There are more than 150 dragonfly and damselfly species present in Maine, but more than 450 species nationwide.

Staff file photo

BRINGING IN DRAGONFLIES

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants both a Wildlife Importation form and a Wildlife Possession form filled out for any wildlife brought into the state.

The fee is $27 for each permit.

Alysa Remsburg, an ecologist at Unity College whose research includes dragonflies and damselflies, agreed with the state biologist that importing new species into Maine could be a problem, but said she doesn't know if the actual impact of bringing in non-native dragonflies has been studied.

A permit is also required for the commercial collection of any species, meaning anyone who is collecting or breeding dragonflies for sale would need approval from the state. DeMaynadier said he is not aware of any state permits granted for insect collection.

Both deMaynadier and Remsburg questioned the efficacy of using dragonflies to control mosquitoes.

"We know dragonflies are voracious predators, but they will eat any kind of insect, usually whatever is most abundant," Remsburg said. "I don't know of any documented studies that says they are an effective control."

She said dragonflies undoubtedly help with mosquito control, but they are "not the silver bullet."

DeMaynadier said an influx of dragonflies in some areas could increase the competition and predation of other aquatic organisms. In some cases, that could lead to further endangerment of some insect species.

There also is no guarantee that transplanted dragonflies will adapt to a new ecosystem, he said.

The best option for handling mosquitoes, deMaynadier said, is to either use repellents to keep them at bay or just accept them as a part of life here.

"Learning to accept mosquitoes as an important, albeit annoying, component of our natural ecosystems is, hands down, the least risky alternative of all," he said.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

 

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Today's poll: Dragonflies

Should the state try to regulate dragonflies being sold from out-of-state?

Yes

No

View Results