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County supervisors Pam Slater-Price and Dianne Jacob are looking to adopt a new strategy in dealing with eye gnat infestations in Jacumba and Escondido. They say residents have had to endure the pesky flies long enough.

Swarms of "eye gnats" have bugged residents for years. Three years ago, residents of Jacumba began to complain about gnats. Shortly after, the county began to receive complaints from other areas. In response, the county hired Jim Bethke, an entomologist from UC Cooperative Extension, to look into the complaints. Bethke and his group discovered that many of the gnats were using Bornt Farms as a breeding ground before flying off to residential areas. Later Bethke identified another breeding ground on the Be Wise Ranch in the San Pasqual Valley.

Bethke devised traps. The traps have worked to some degree, but not enough for nearby residents.

Armed with new complaints, supervisors Slater-Price and Jacob are considering different options. On Tuesday, board members will direct staff to work with the Farm Bureau to find solutions.

"A tougher strategy is needed to address this issue with the goal of reducing the eye gnats to an acceptable level to lessen adverse impacts on residents," reads a recommendation brought forward by Supervisors Pam Slater-Price and Diane Jacob.

Local farmers, however, worry that the new strategy could possibly mean pesticides being sprayed on their farms. Doing so, may not only chase the eye gnats out of town but could potentially run them out of business for good.

"...In recent months Be Wise Ranch has become the main target for a small group of homeowners," reads a message from Be Wise farmer Bill Brammer to members of the ranch. "This group of homeowners have enlisted the assistance of some of the members of the County Board of Supervisors, to be more specific Pam Slater Price & Diane [Jacob] and have asked them to support them in any way possible to force a shut down of Be Wise Organic Ranch and organic farming in San Diego County as a whole..."

"We need everyone’s help to stop this railroading of our farm."

County supervisors will hear the item during a November 9 meeting.


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