Black flies have plagued the southern parts of Logan County for years, however, last year the Logan County Fiscal Court took action, throwing down the swatter of sorts, and declaring war on the pesky insect.
Their decision resulted in a decrease in presence of the bothersome insects and gave relief to the many who where having to take matters into their own hands. It wasn’t uncommon by some to ward off the fly by wearing dryer sheets to keep them at bay.
Magistrates hired Mark Hopkins and his company Enscience to treat the Red River and Whippoorwill Creek last year and to kill the fly at its larval stages. This was very successful, said Hopkins in a fiscal court meeting Tuesday. Hopkins was asked to attend the court meeting and give a synopsis of last year’s treatment and it’s effectiveness.
Time is fast approaching when this treatment should begin again, which is before the warmer weather blows in. This is not a problem that will go away entirely, but one that will have to be battled each and every year.
Fiscal Court will be taking bids for this year’s treatment, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Enscience at the riverbanks once again as they did such a good job of last year’s applications.
Hopkins told the court Tuesday there was a hundred percent mortality rate for the larva after the treatments last year, which was a good thing. Hopkins treated the river last year in mid-May, and again in July, August and November. He said there needs to be an evaluation done in February of this year to see if there is any presence of the fly already and what they are facing.
There were two barrels of product remaining from last year, but the county will need many more to treat it this year. Hopkins said he has spoken to the Division of Pesticides and told them Logan County would be wanting the max when they begin distributing the product, which will be approximately 22 barrels.
The product Enscience uses is Bacillus thuringienisis israelensis (Bti), 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.
Robert Fusco, a field scientist with Valent BioSciences Corporation was brought in by the state last year to access the black fly problem in Logan County. Fusco reported the flies have always been in the area, and it’s the river that has changed that may be causing an increase. The river is extremely clean now, where it used to be more polluted.
“The larval population density at the riffle area sites visited was extremely high with larvae and pupae covering around 95 percent of the aquatic vegetation, leaf debris, and rocks which were sampled,” said Fusco said in his report last year. “The adult population was also extremely high in the areas visited along the Red River. The flies were primarily a nuisance problem swarming around the head, but also some bites were sustained on exposed areas of the arms and head, so it appears that this black fly species feeds occasionally on humans (but not specifically on humans).” Fusco concluded that Logan County needs to continue to treat the river with chemicals that will limit the black fly population.
Hopkins said that Logan County will probably never be free from the black fly, but by treating the waterways each year, they can curve the amount.
Magistrate Jack Crossley, whose district has a good deal of the flies, has been very diligent in staying after the problem. He made the motion Tuesday for the county to bid out the treatment and to get on with whatever needed to be done.