Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Dinniman meets with residents about fly infestation in community

03/22/2016 12:03PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Since 2010, insects have descended upon the 55-plus Harrogate North community in Landenberg – phorid flies, to be exact – an invasion that has left dozens of residents frustrated, disgusted, and reaching out for someone – particularly an elected official – to come to their rescue. 
This past week, one finally arrived.
State Sen. Andy Dinniman met with residents and leaders of the community on March 17 to coordinate efforts to address flies, which have impacted several homes throughout Harrogate. Dinniman, who was joined by New Garden Township Manager Tony Scheivert and representatives from the Chester County Conservation District and the Lancaster Conservation District, said he was committed to helping the residents find relief.
“This is a problem that negatively impacts both the quality of life of local residents and the crop yields of neighboring mushroom farmers,” he said. “There has got to be a way to work together to eliminate this fly for the betterment of the entire community.”
The phorid fly breeds in, and feeds on, moist and decaying organic matter, and can be found in roadside drains, near rotting vegetables and fruit, in damp compost piles, sewage-contaminated soil, and in landscape material such as mulch. It is known as a carrier of disease-causing bacteria. In a 12-hour period, the female phorid fly can deposit 40 eggs, and more than 500 eggs during her lifetime.
Dinniman's appearance at Harrogate was influenced by the comments of more than 50 Harrogate residents who attended the Feb. 16 New Garden Board of Supervisors meeting and spent more than 30 minutes telling the supervisors that they were living in a nightmare.
Les Clark, the president of the Harrrogate North Condominium Association, told the supervisors that a survey circulated recently to residents revealed that 107 homes in the 124-home community report fly infestation to varying degrees – low, moderate and high – and that 41 of those homes are experiencing a high rate of infestation.
Clark said that the flies have encroached on areas outside of Harrogate, including the nearby Somerset Lake community, in the Brittany Hills development on Gap-Newport Pike, as well as over the Delaware state line in Hockessin.
While Harrogate North residents are moving forward with measures such as treating their water runoff system and removing mulch from flower beds in favor of stone, Dinniman said he will continue to work to involve experts and epidemiologists in the issue.
Dinniman told the residents that a support system is being formed to address the issue, one that brings together representatives from the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection, Health, and Agriculture, as well as Penn State Agriculture Extension Services.
Dinniman told the residents that he has been working with the American Mushroom Institute (AMI) to discuss solutions, and representatives from his staff attended a recent meeting of the organization’s Integrated Pest Management Committee to learn about the phorid and discuss possible control or mitigation methods.
“AMI has proved to be an incredibly helpful partner in sharing information about this species and what may or may not work in getting rid of it,” Dinniman said. “Their experts have already provided valuable advice and guidance to residents.
“Harrogate North residents agree that their community would be an ideal site to bring together experts to study the phorid fly as we work to develop safe and effective methods to eliminate it as a pest to both homeowners and mushroom farmers.”   
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected]