Pilot Program Launched to Control Midges on Back River

Midges: the tiny, pesky nuisance that will slowly drive you crazy if you spend time around the waterfront on the tribuataries of the Chesapeake Bay.

This summer the state of Maryland launched a "midge suppression pilot program" in the Back River area of Baltimore County.

Apparently, complaints from residents and businesses about the annoying tiny flies were so bad that Governor Larry Hogan issued an Executive Order to create the program. It is directed by the Maryland Departments of Agriculuture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR).

MDA treating for midges on September 11

MDA treating for midges on September 11

 The preliminary schedule is for five monthly treatments: August–October 2017, and May–June 2018. The September spray began Monday September 11.

Staff from MDA and DNR have worked together to identify a 260-acre section of the Back River in Essex where midge populations have become a major nuisance. The insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, known as Bti, will be sprayed by boat. Bti is nontoxic to humans, mammals, birds, fish, and most invertebrates, but goes after midge larvae, black fly larvae, mosquito larvae and a few other aquatic Dipteran (flies) insects.

DNR biologists will conduct larval sampling and continuous adult sampling using light traps. DNR will also track midge complaints in the area. For more information, contact Maryland Department of Natural Resources (Access.DNR@maryland.gov).

MDA will notify residents of planned sprays.

The pilot program aims to determine how effective Bti is in controlling midge populations, and find the most cost-effective dosage and frequency of treatments.

Megan Viviano