HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Folks who live along the Potomac River in the Harpers Ferry area may see increased activity in the air today.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced a green and white helicopter will be in the area as part of a black fly treatment pilot program.

The effort “will treat a targeted area of the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as part of a pilot program to control black fly populations in the area. Treatment is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, June 26, 2024,” according to a press release from the Department of Agriculture.

MDA will apply a Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti)-based larvicide via helicopter (Bell 206 Long Ranger, green and white paint scheme. Tail number is N641HA). Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria found in soils. It is a bacterial insecticide, not a chemical, and is only harmful to a very limited variety of organisms, including midge, black fly, and mosquito larvae and a few other aquatic Dipteran (flies) insects.

The treatment may cause temporary discoloration of the water, but the Department of Agriculture assures the community the treatment is “completely nontoxic and is not harmful to humans, fish, crabs or other aquatic invertebrates.”  A fact sheet on Bti can be found here.​

The Black Fly Suppression Pilot Program was established in 2016.

Read the full announcement here. 

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