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Pennsylvania DEP Officials to Conduct Black Fly Helicopter Spray Wednesday, July 5 in Delaware River Basin

July 3, 2017

On Wednesday, July 5, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will conduct aerial black fly suppression operations along the Delaware River in Bucks and Northampton counties as well as Mercer, Hunterdon and Warren Counties in New Jersey.

The spray targets larvae growing in waterways before hatching as black flies (biting gnats), leaving their aquatic habitat to affect both animals and people. The black fly suppression program reduces the population, providing relief for outdoor recreation in spring and summer months.

Work on the Delaware River will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m. in Yardley and proceed north to the Slateford area of Northampton County.

Aerial operations involve the application of Vectobac 12AS (a brown, viscous, liquid material that smells like fish oil and has a chocolate milk appearance) from a helicopter.  The helicopter will apply the Vectobac perpendicular to the river flow in designated areas by flying back and forth across the river and discharging the material from a boom arm. The material is then carried downriver. The active ingredient in Vectobac is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.), a naturally occurring soil bacterium.

The helicopter will apply the B.t.i. to designated areas every few miles along the treated waterways. Application is done by first circling the area to look for people on the ground/in the water or for obstructions in the air.

Helicopter Applicators, Inc. of Gettysburg, PA is the scheduled contractor and will be using a gray/red/blue Bell OH-58 helicopter with tail number N653HA. DEP officials will be on site at all landing zones to manage the operation. For additional information about black fly suppression, please visit the website http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/blackfly.