Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

May 13, 2011

The Season of the Black Fly


CAROLYN’S DAILY POSTS: 2011

THE SEASON OF THE BLACK FLY

    It’s a great joy to sit on my patio, reading, writing on my laptop, or eating while enjoying natures sounds: a pair of cardinals calling to each other, other birds, hemlock pine cones dropping on my porch. It’s relaxing to view the carpet of pastel rainbow flowers, the birds at the bird feeders, the squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about to gather the seeds dropped by the birds, the—-what’s that? The black flies?  NOT so enjoyable as they flit about my head, sometimes find my eyes (so I must go intot he house and flush them with water), land in my food.

     On May 10, 2011, the Department of Environmental Protection began aerial spraying to control these pesky interlopers. The agency started along the Delaware River, and other waterways will be treated as stream currents and weather conditions permit. The plan is to spray 1,600 stream miles in 33 counties, including Westmoreland, where I live, and Fayette County, where I once lived. In Westmoreland County the intent is to spray along the Conemaugh, Kiskiminetas, and Youghiogheny rivers. Spraying along the Yough River will reach into Fayette County.

     The agency uses Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium, to target the larval stage of four specific human pest black fly species. The bacterium degrades quickly in the environment and does not harm the aquatic ecosystem, birds or other insects, according to DEP.*

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     One of the hazards of settling in the Maine territory of Massachusetts (eg. Downeast Maine) in the 1790s was the existence of black flies, according to reports I found in my research. When I was planning on traveling to Maine in the spring of 2006, a chatroom acquaintance, forester, mentioned the problem to me, and some possible resolutions. The problem of black flies, it seems, is widespread.

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     Although I do not enjoy the prospects of chemicals being sprayed from the skies—always contrasting the risk/benefit factor—I do look forward to an answer to the problem of black flies. And I wonder why their population is so extensive, when they seem to serve so little use. It makes me appreciate the ecosystem’s creatures that feed on them. Whichever they are.

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SOURCE

*DEP to begin spraying for black flies, Greensburg Tribune-Review, May 11, 2011, pp. B3

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ADDITIONAL READING:

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

YOU MEAN THIS NEW ENGLANDER IS A WESTSYLVANIAN?

May celebrations: Part II

www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com

www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com

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