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City uses chemical warfare again on roosting birds

November 04, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - Chemicals being sprayed on trees along Jonathan, Franklin and Potomac streets coat birds' feathers with a distasteful substance in hopes of sending them elsewhere.

The City of Hagerstown has sprayed trees to get rid of crows and starlings for more than 10 years.

"It doesn't always work, but we've been pretty successful in the past," City Engineer Rodney A. Tissue said.

In some cases, the city has trimmed tree limbs or used noisemakers to further convince the birds to roost elsewhere, Tissue said.

This year, the city opted to spray earlier than usual, hoping to ward off the birds when they first arrive for the season.

"Every year, to the day, at the end of October, they start moving in," Tissue said. "You can almost set your watch by them."

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Rejex-it, the product sprayed on street trees in the public right of way, poses no harm to humans in the area, said Dave McMullan of Ehrlich Pest Control. In fact, the active ingredient, methyl anthranilate, is found in common consumer products, he said.

"It's an additive to food, food flavors, fragrances," McMullan said.

The chemicals are sprayed directly onto the trees since fogging can be affected by winds, McMullan said.

Ehrlich has sprayed at least once this season. It has sessions scheduled for Monday, Thursday and Nov. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. for Franklin Street between Locust and Jonathan streets; Jonathan Street between Franklin Street and North Avenue; and Potomac Street between Franklin and Antietam streets.

Spraying is done in the evenings to capitalize on the birds' primary roosting time, Tissue said.

"If it's windy or rainy, they don't spray," he said.

The city's initiative to shoo the birds from main streets is planned to reduce the feces found on vehicles and sidewalks.

The purple hue of the feces does not result from the Rejex-it, McMullan said.

"They would not eat enough of this to make it turn purple," he said.




What's in Rejex-it



The active ingredient in Rejex-it is methyl anthranilate, a naturally occurring compound found in Concord grapes and orange blossoms, said Dave McMullan of Ehrlich Pest Control. Methyl anthranilate is used in soda, ice cream and gum, he said.

Rejex-it smells strongly like grapes.




Spraying schedule



Monday, Thursday and Nov. 13, 6 to 9 p.m.

Franklin Street between Locust and Jonathan streets; Jonathan Street between Franklin Street and North Avenue; and Potomac Street between Franklin and Antietam streets.

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