To the editor:
It isn't possible to avoid being mercilessly harassed by clouds of tiny black flies when trying to work or play outside this summer. This is the worst it's been in 30 years.
The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection has been conducting statewide spraying programs to control the black fly for many years. This pest emerges from rivers and streams as an adult fly. The objective of the program is to kill the larval stage of the fly while it is still in the water. It's not feasible to control the adults. The material used is a naturally occurring bacteria which specifically targets only this larvae. It's important to treat the river before the first generation emerges in the spring. In years past, the program has worked quite well and we have been able to enjoy our outdoor activities. Our county governments contribute funding to pay for these treatments.
Unfortunately, the state has cut back the budget for the program. This year, due to the reduced budget, the spraying program did not commence until after several generations of adult flies were already swarming and breeding. The spraying provided little relief to Juniata County. To make matters worse, the last spray for our area ended on July 31, long before the insect becomes inactive for the winter. The program normally continues until Labor Day.
Unless we all make our voices heard in Harrisburg, we are going to experience another miserable summer next year. There is no reason that we have to spend our outdoor time covered in insect repellants and nets. Many people are allergic to the bite and our animals are literally tortured by this insect. There is also an economic price to pay when people aren't engaging in outdoor activities because of this nuisance. It's not a coincidence that blackfly spraying is still occurring in Lycoming County near Williamsport until after the Little League World Series.
Please call or write to the PA DNR to voice your opinion. This is one of the few instances where the use of your tax dollars benefits everyone. There is a website where you can register your complaints: www.depweb.state.pa.us/blackfly. Also, call or write to our county commissioners and state representatives to make sure that they know we want the program to be fully funded.
Robert A. Fusco