4-Posters Don’t Work
In a letter to the editor on August 22, 2013, I cited by name and quoted from five science studies that show that all warm blooded animals — field mice, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, raccoons, etc. — carry ticks. (All of the studies are available online to everyone.) Thus, the expensive to maintain, environmentally toxic 4-Poster devices have no practical effects whatsoever on the numbers of ticks, or the incidences of diseases transmitted to humans by ticks.
Here’s another view supporting this conclusion, in the Shelter Island Reporter, in an article entitled, “4-Posters Deployed,” on April 15, 2013. (Also available online.) The article says, “There is no data from the Suffolk County Department of Health services to verify that the 4-posters are effective in curbing the spread of tick borne diseases.” Also the piece makes a very important point by quoting Dr. Dan Gilrein, an entomologist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, a group that has studied the 4-Poster use on Shelter Island: “Dr. Dan Gilrein has said nobody had a clear idea of what factors affect the tick population. He speculated that 20 years from now there would be more definitive information resulting from ongoing studies. He also noted that during the time North Haven was the control site for the Shelter Island site, that village experienced a downturn in ticks even without the 4-posters. … ‘The weather could trump everything,’ he said.”
The weather is in fact crucial to the numbers of ticks we experience, as is seen when we look at deer tick reproduction patterns. A female tick hangs on a plant until a warm-blooded creature brushes by. It attaches itself to the animal, drinks its blood, then falls to the ground and lays literally thousands of eggs. These hatch in about a month, turning first into blood-sucking larvae, then into blood-sucking adults, and the new female adults start the cycle all over again, each of them in turn producing thousands of eggs. And when we have a comparatively mild winter, such at that of 2012-2013, many ticks survive the season, exponentially raising the numbers of live in the next spring and summer.
Proponents of the 4-Posters say that their use on Fire Island proves that they work. But an article in the Fire Island Sun on May 19, 2009, “Four Poster Update” (also available online), voids this claim. It reported, “after allowing the 4-Poster tick control study to proceed for more than a year, FINS [a federal agency] revoked its authorization for the study.” There is no data regarding the brief use of 4-Posters on Fire Island.
Yet, the proponents of the 4-Posters continue to pressure North Haven to employ them. A letter in the Express on August 29, 2013, by Josephine DeVincenzi, says that when the devices were used in Maryland, “Tick populations dropped 96-98 percent,” and “in Texas two studies showed 92-97 percent declines in tick populations.” I searched the web for the Maryland and Texas studies, and found them, as anyone can do. They are called, “The Impact of 4-Poster Deer Self-Treatment Devices at Three Locations in Maryland,” and “Research Strategies to Control Ticks on White-tailed Deer, Kerrville, Texas.” What both studies explicitly and clearly explain is that they studied and counted the numbers of ticks ONLY ON DEER, AND NOT ON ANY OTHER ANIMALS.
Ms. DeVincenzi also quotes Bob DeLuca as saying; “the 4-poster technology provided a superior environmental method of tick management over a broad-spectrum tick and insect spraying.” Here, Mr. DeLuca is not saying anything about the effectiveness of 4-Posters. He is merely comparing how much damage is done to the environment by the devices versus widespread spraying by private individuals. But two points need to be made. One, spraying by private individuals involves a less than one percent solution of permethrin, an environmentally toxic insecticide, verses a TEN percent solution applied twice on week on all four posts of each of the dozens of 4-Poster devices on Shelter Island. And two, the use of 4-Posters would be IN ADDITION to the private spraying. The hope that people will stop spraying their properties because the 4-Posters are being used is just that — a hope. And even if they did, they would soon learn through experience that the devices are useless, so would renew their spraying.
In short, the environmentally toxic and expensive-to-maintain 4-Posters do not work in controlling the numbers of ticks or the incidences of tick borne diseases transmitted to humans.
To the Editor:
Thank you for featuring a photograph of our sukkah, the portable booth used for the celebration of Sukkot, a seven-day Jewish harvest festival which concluded this past Thursday. The sukkah recalls the booths mentioned in the Bible that the Israelites lived in during their forty years of wandering in the desert.
In the spirit of welcoming guests, Temple Adas Israel planned a special Sukkot celebration with the larger Sag Harbor community in mind. Our sukkah was imaginatively designed by local artist Erling Hope and local architect Nilay Oza. One of its distinctive features was a wall comprised of more than 1,400 cans, all of which were donated to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry.
We want to thank our community partners – Goat on a Boat, Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream, and Philosofit – for their creative programming that enhanced our celebration of Sukkot and enabled us to share the holiday with all of our friends and neighbors.
Rabbi Leon A. Morris
Temple Adas Israel