I’m on a lot of email lists. One is from my PA congressman, who sends me tidbits of governmental things going on. In his latest newsletter he mentioned that the PA DEP will be treating local streams to control black fly populations.
In the past I’ve found that, with other agencies and governmental bodies, insect control is most often done with poisonous substances and sprays. So I did some digging to see how this program is administered.
Wow, my tax dollars are being spent in a good way! This is what I found in the FAQ for the Black Fly Control Program.
“Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis ( Bti ) is a naturally occurring soil bacteria used as a microbial insecticide to control the spread of vector-borne diseases, protect public health, and manage insect pest species . . . Initial testing of Bti revealed acute toxicity to mosquitoes (Goldberg and Margalit 1977) and black flies (Undeen and Nagel 1978) that can carry and transmit diseases. Further research demonstrated that Bti is nontoxic to humans, mammals, birds, beneficial insects, fish, plants, and most aquatic organisms (EPA 1998 Bti EG2215 Factsheet).
Of course, there’s always a caveat. Much as I hate black flies and mosquitoes, they do fill a niche in our environment. One has to wonder what balance is being upset here, if any. But in general I’m pleased that this approach, which uses a natural way to control black fly populations, is the one that was chosen.