Ruth Stimson        
Mosquito Control, #1        
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Battling Mosquitos, Part 1

picture Ruth, second from left, with a map showing mosquito breeding sites in Hampton
Ruth began her crusade against mosquitos in 1959. Her observation of Hampton's mosquito problem is recorded in Peter Randall's history of Hampton: "Ye gods, I never saw so many mosquitoes in my life as there were here."

And with that observation, Ruth started lobbying for legislation to create mosquito control districts. In 1965, the state law was passed, but Hampton didn't take action until 1973, when there was an encephalitis outbreak.

That year, Ruth notes in her autobiography, "Many horses died, which aroused horse lovers and the general public to the seriousness of the problem."

It was Ruth's cue to renew her fight, using the Extension Service's motto to learn by doing.

"County citizens needed to learn how to petition to form a mosquito control district under New Hampshire law. The mechanism was there, but lying dormant. I tried out the process step by step as a citizen of Hampton before I publicized the details."

In 1975 the town approved a mosquito control district, with a $10,000 budget, under the direction of a commission, with Ruth as Chair.

Because mosquitos travel from town to town, Ruth pushed for a regional approach to mosquito abatement in the many talks she gave throughout Rockingham County. By 1975, ten other towns had also created mosquito control districts.

Always the educator, Ruth applied for and received a $500 Innovative Award from the Extension Service to develop materials about mosquito control.

"I thought there was need of a manual and a quarterly circular to motivate both public officials and interested citizens on how to establish a mosquito control district and how to budget for a breeding site survey for presentation at a budget committee and/or town meeting.

"It (the award) encouraged me to continue pioneering to benefit Rockingham County residents and summer visitors, particularly in the seacoast of NH. Education was the key to action to abate annoying, biting mosquitoes."

In 1978, Ruth received national recognition for her community action program for mosquito abatement, which served as a model nationwide. She traveled to Washington, D.C. for the award ceremony. Read about this experience in Part 2.