Bids were opened Tuesday for Black Fly treatment to the Red River and Whipporwill Creek in Logan County. Only one bid was received and it was from Enscience, the local company who treated the waterways last year. The court unanimously approved to hire the company, which is owned and operated by Mark Hopkins.
Hopkins spoke to the court Tuesday saying he would charge the county the same as last year, $750 per day for no more than 15 days. Hopkins had three days left over from last year that he did not use, but plans to use them this year to get a head start on the problem sometime in February or March.
Enscience applied Bacillus thuringienisis israelensis (Bti) to the Red River and Whipporwill Creek last year, which is a biological material specifically designed to target black fly larva. The material is non-toxic to humans, mammals, birds, fish, plants and most invertebrates when properly applied. It is used worldwide to control black flies and mosquitoes without harming non-target organisms.
Judge Executive Loan Chick said he called the Department of Agriculture to see if there were any names out there who could treat for the problem and put in a bid. It was not because Enscience did not do a good job, it was just to have more than one bid. Chick said they told him they didn’t know anyone in the state who did it besides Hopkins.
“I think he did an excellent job last year. He made it go away,” said Magistrate Jack Crossley, whose district has some of the worst Black fly problems.
According to Hopkins, the black flies were much worse in the Whippoorwill Creek than the Red River last year and feels those found in the Red River probably originated from the Whippoorwill Creek and blew over with the weather changes.
Part of the company’s process is to complete a mortality study after each application. This is to monitor the effects of the applied material on the fly to see if they indeed were killed. It takes about two hours to kill the larva after contact. It is best to get to the fly during the larval stages.
Hopkins plans to do an early study before the weather gets warm to see what the waterways look like and if any flies are there yet. Access to these waterways is sometimes difficult says Hopkins, who relied on locals last year to help him find the best ways to get to the smaller branches.
The adult flies will continue to lay eggs despite the treatment and this will be an annual fight according to Hopkins.
Robert Fusco, a field scientist with Valent BioSciences Corporation came to Logan County last year and filed a report on the fly. He said the flies have always been in the area. It’s the river that has changed that may be causing the increase. The river is extremely clean now, where it used to be more polluted.