Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Diego Grand jury wants county to fight eye gnats

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.

The San Diego County grand jury issued a report Thursday recommending that county officials take steps to eradicate the eye gnats that have been plaguing residents of Jacumba and North County.

The grand jury, which acts as a watchdog of county government, said the eye gnats should be declared a priority in the county’s program to eradicate pests. In the past, county officials have said they were not focusing attention on the gnats because the insects are considered only a nuisance, not a disease-carrying pest such as mosquitoes.

Residents of the East County community of Jacumba have been swatting at eye gnats for years. A study by the University of California found that millions of the gnats were coming from a 450-acre organic spinach and lettuce farm nearby.

Residents of Fallbrook, Rainbow, Oceanside and Escondido have also complained about the bugs, which are attracted to human and animal eyes.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has been meeting with residents, farmer Alan Bornt and county officials to come up with a solution to the gnat problem. Under threat of a lawsuit by the county, Bornt has placed 2,000 traps and is spraying nonchemical pesticides on his fields.

The grand jury also recommended that any proposed facility that could create eye gnats should include a plan for eradicating the insects when submitting requests for approval from county government. County officials should also notify residents near a proposed facility of a potential eye gnat problem and inform them of the corrective measures to be taken, the report said.

County officials are required to respond to the grand jury’s recommendations by Aug. 11.


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