Board of Public Works Approves Funding for Pilot Programs Aimed at Controlling Midges, Black Flies
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Board of Public Works today approved funding for two programs aimed at controlling populations of black flies and midges, respectively. The Maryland Department of Agriculture will be the lead agency for both programs, collaborating closely with the Department of Natural Resources. Both programs will use treatments of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) — a naturally occurring soil bacterium that is non-toxic to humans, mammals, birds, fish and most invertebrates. Treatment schedules are subject to change, but are currently slated to begin later this month.
“We have heard the repeated call of local residents loud and clear,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our administration is proud to take action to provide immediate and much-needed relief from this ongoing nuisance and provide further upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.”
Midge Pilot Program
Governor Hogan issued an Executive Order August 9, directing the department to begin treatments to control the midge population in the Back River. The Midge Pilot Program is a response to concerns from citizens and businesses in the Back River area of Baltimore County, where midge populations have proliferated beyond nuisance levels, and have become a threat to local businesses and quality of life for residents.
The department will use boats with an apparatus designed specifically for midge control to apply Bactimos WG—a Bti-based product made specifically for midge control. Treatments will cover a 260-acre area of the Back River in Essex a total of five times (August-October, 2017; and May-June 2018).
This program aims to provide temporary relief while upgrades are made to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to a 2014 Department of Natural Resources study, nutrient pollution stemming from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant is the likely cause of the midge infestation in the area. While upgrades to the Back River plant are on schedule, the infestation still poses an immediate impact to marinas, restaurants with outdoor seating, and other small businesses, as well as activities at a local senior center.
Black Fly Pilot Program
The Black Fly Pilot Program is the result of legislation introduced by the Washington County Delegation and passed by the General Assembly in 2016 (HB870). In accordance with the law, the program will treat portions of the Potomac River in Washington County near Williamsport and from Harpers Ferry to Brunswick (map). The program will use helicopters to apply Vectobac 12AS—a Bti-based product designed to control black flies and mosquitoes.
The program is modeled heavily on Pennsylvania’s black fly program, which has been in effect since the 1980s. The goal of the Maryland Black Fly Pilot Program is to reduce adult black fly populations to tolerable levels during the summer recreational season using environmentally-compatible methods. The Department of Natural Resources will monitor the applications.
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