Tiny eye gnats are causing a stir in Southern California, and raising new questions about the healthiness of organic produce.
According to a document from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the gnats are originating from organic farms in the area. Because organic farming limits or prohibits use of pesticides, the gnats are breeding and becoming a public nuisance. Thus, the county has directed the Chief Administrative Officer to work with the Farm Bureau and others to address the issue. "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," the document states.
Recommendations are to be made within 90 days of the letter, dated today (Nov. 9, 2011).
This is not the first time the county has addressed the issue. It was discussed in 2008, after which research was begun on measures by which farmers could reduce eye gnat breeding. In 2010, an agreement was reached with the farm for reduction, with the agreement amended in 2011. Although the number of eye gnats has been reduced, populations are continuing to adversely affect residents. In addition, recent research has shown that an organic farm in the San Pasqual Valley is further contributing to the issue.
The gnats are of particular concern in areas where the weather stays mild year round. In other locations, the eye gnat season is waning, giving way to year-round, indoor gnat-like pests such as moth or drain flies.