DEP announces Black Fly management plan

Black fly spraying will be coming to three waterways in Warren County.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced that spraying in 2019 will include approximately 1,700 stream miles in 35 counties across the state.

In Warren County, that will include spraying on the Allegheny River, Brokenstraw Creek and Conewango Creek.

According to DEP, the first spraying “could take place on the Schuylkill River and several of its tributaries within the week. Other waterways will be treated as stream levels drop and weather conditions improve.”

The DEP says that the treatment will be “performed both by helicopter and ground crews. The frequency will depend upon weather and biological conditions.

“Treatments cannot occur during periods of heavy rain or when water levels are high as these conditions lower the effectiveness of the treatment as well as significantly increase the cost of the control operations.”

“As warmer weather returns, black flies are a pest that can inundate folks seeking outdoor recreation, especially around rivers and streams,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Using environmentally compatible methods, this annual initiative reduces this nuisance so that Pennsylvanians can enjoy our natural resources.”

The statement from DEP states that they use “Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium, to treat the larval stage of four specific human pest black fly species. This bacterium degrades quickly in the environment and does not harm the aquatic ecosystem, birds, or other insects.”

DEP said that counties and local emergency management officials will be notified prior to spraying and added that “helicopters can be seen flying over waterways and ground crews using backpack sprayers off bridges and wading in streams conducting control operations on behalf of DEP’s Black Fly Suppression Program. Anyone concerned at the sight of a helicopter or ground personnel is encouraged to call their county emergency management office to verify that a black fly treatment is taking place in their area on that day.”