Monday, May 13, 2019

Controlling Mosquito Populations in New Jersey

It has been a rainy spring in New Jersey. That will help your plantings, keep down fire hazards and replenish our reservoirs and the aquifer. It will also increase breeding places for mosquitoes.

New Jersey has more than 60 different kinds of mosquitoes, 20 of which can carry diseases.
Last year, New Jersey’s mosquito season started early, with weather that was hot and wet throughout and extended well into the fall.

During the 2018 season, surveillance programs documented above average mosquito populations and record-setting levels of West Nile virus in mosquitoes with more than 1,330 positive samples. The season generally lasts well into the first frosts of fall.

The New Jersey Mosquito Control Commission has marked its 500th meeting and the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health and Department of Agriculture remind the public of the ongoing importance of controlling populations of the disease-carrying insect.

In addition to monitoring and controlling populations of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, the state-led effort remains vigilant in addressing equine encephalitis, a rare but very serious disease, and emerging threats such as Zika.

With continued wet weather this spring, it is critical that residents do their part to address mosquito threats around their own properties as the mosquito season begins. Last year, New Jersey reported its highest number of West Nile virus cases, with more than 60 cases identified in 20 counties.

The New Jersey Mosquito Control Commission strives to ensure the use of only the most environmentally safe and efficient mosquito techniques, products and programs and oversees an environmentally-sound aerial application program. The commission reviews municipal and county mosquito control programs and projects to ensure their compliance with state and federal regulations and policies.

It also supports the training of county mosquito control personnel as well as the education of the public on mosquito biology, surveillance, and the various chemical, biological and water-management techniques and practices used in the state's abatement efforts.

Early season mosquito activity has begun. Testing will start soon for a variety of pathogens spread by mosquito bites, including Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus, which are routinely found circulating within mosquito populations in New Jersey.

Even with dry weather, diseases can be spread as mosquitoes and birds share the same water sources, making it even more important for the public to remove sources of standing water in their yards that can serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

The commission recommends residents take the following steps to protect themselves and their families:

  • Empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels and cans at least once or twice a week.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters.
  • Check for and remove any containers or trash that may be difficult to see, such as under bushes, homes or around building exteriors.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents when outdoors and wear protective clothing.
  • Stay in air-conditioned places or rooms with window screens that prevent access by mosquitoes.
  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property.
  • Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers that are left outdoors.
  • Repair and clean storm-damaged roof gutters, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees tend to clog drains. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Avoid allowing water to stagnate in bird baths.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens become major mosquito producers if they stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, including those not in use. An untended swimming pool can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
  • This state-county network is engaged in critical information sharing so that county partners can investigate any emerging mosquito-borne virus activity and take needed action where appropriate. Likewise, county programs share both mosquito population data and mosquito species samples taken each day throughout the season. These data are compiled into regional reports and analyzed by the Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station for decisions made by the commission, the DEP and the counties.

To learn more about the New Jersey Mosquito Control Commission and for links to county mosquito agencies, visit

For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites and illness, or to mosquito-proof your home and yard, visit or


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hands Across the Sand May 18

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A number of groups and individuals - New Jersey Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation: Jersey Shore Chapter, Clean Ocean Action, Assemblyman Houghtaling, Assemblywoman Downe - are uniting on Saturday, May 18th to say NO to offshore drilling and YES to protect our coast from offshore drilling.

The symbolic locking of hands to make a wall across the beach is one of hundreds of synchronized events globally to raise awareness about the dangers of dirty fuels and the need to speed the transition to available, affordable clean energy solutions.

The possibility of an oil spill or leak would threaten New Jersey’s billion-dollar coastal economy and jeopardize over 50,000 jobs. Our state will not only be at risk from a spill or explosion, but we will see more climate impacts threatening people and property. If we had drilling platforms off our coast and a storm like Sandy hit, we could see catastrophic spills.

Hands Across the Sand is an annual international grassroots event designed to demonstrate local opposition to the exploration for and transport of dirty fossil fuels. It occurs in NJ on Saturday, May 18th from 11am to 2pm. The joining of hands will be at noon on the beach. Following that will be a paddle out at 12:30pm. Bring signs and your friends and be sure to dress appropriately for the weather forecast.

WHERE: 5th Ave. & Gazebo Ocean Ave., Bradley Beach, NJ 07720

Facebook Event Link:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Upcoming at Sandy Hook

Programs upcoming at Sandy Hook this weekend. 

Holly Forest; Arbor Day Tree Walk
American Littoral Society
Parking Lot E
Friday, April 26, 10 AM - 12 PM
Some of the oldest American holly trees in the country can be found among Sandy Hook's nearly 300 acres of holly forest. We will hike through the restricted 64-acre maritime forest area and get to see an undisturbed holly forest with some of its oldest, rarest, and largest trees. Waterproof footwear is recommended.Cost: $10 member/ $20 non-member. Contact: 732-291-0055 for more information and to reserve. ♥ 2 miles.

Dune Grass Planting-- NOTE CORRECTED LOCATION: Parking Lot B
American Littoral Society
Parking Lot B
Saturday, April 27, 10 AM
The American Littoral Society will be hosting a beach grass planting. The public is invited to help plant American beach grass on dunes in need of restoration. Go to Parking Lot B and look for the organizers It is a volunteer event that is open to the public and will also involve students who have been growing American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) plants in area schools through the Beach Grasses in Classes program. If possible, please bring a stick or shovel to help with planting. Event will be held rain or shine. Dress for the weather. For more information call the American Littoral Society at 732-291-0055 or email

Sandy Hook's Nature Rx Day
Healthy Parks-Healthy People
U.S. Life-Saving Station at Spermaceti Cove (Between Lot D and Lot E)
Sunday, April 28, 1 PM-2:30 PM
Join a park ranger on a prescribed walk through the holly forest with your family and friends. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, while getting fit and healthy.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Shad Migrating and Spawning in the Millstone River

Fishermen standing in the Delaware River above Chester, NJ with the bleaching mills,
smokestacks, and church spires of Gloucester along the shore. - James Fuller Queen, 1820 via Picryl 

American Shad were found migrating and spawning in the Millstone River for the first time in 173 years after the removal of the waterway’s Weston Mill Dam in Manville in summer 2017.

The dam blocked the migration of shad and other migratory fish, and the dam's removal marks an important step in the restoration of the Millstone River and the larger Raritan River Basin.

Great efforts are being made to restore migratory routes of anadromous fish species (those which live in the ocean but spawn in fresh water), including river herring and American Shad.

A flurry of dam removals have taken place along the Raritan, Musconetcong, and Millstone Rivers in recent years, with more on the way, including those along the Paulins Kill (i.e. Columbia Lake).

Shad fishing on the Delaware River has been hot the last few springs - in fact, even novice shad fishermen are currently catching more than a dozen per trip while wading its banks. This is not the case throughout the state, as fishing for American Shad is prohibited on all other New Jersey waters, as populations recover.

The 38-mile-long Millstone River, a tributary of the Raritan River, boasts a wide array of fish diversity with more than fifty species found in recent years. Migratory species, including American Shad, Gizzard Shad, Blueback Herring, Striped Bass, and American Eel, have been documented passing the Island Farm Weir fish ladder on the Raritan River near its confluence with the Millstone River, approximately 1.5 miles downstream of the former Weston Causeway Dam.

Efforts continue to restore American Shad and other migratory fishes by reconnecting historic migratory pathways. The Millstone River's Weston Causeway Dam was removed during the summer of 2017. The Weston Causeway Dam, located just downstream of the Wilhousky Street bridge in Manville, was the first impediment to fish passage on the Millstone River. The 133-foot long and five-foot high dam was originally built to provide power at the Weston Mill. The site included a gristmill, sawmill, the dam, and associated waterpower features. The dam had no current purpose; the mill buildings were claimed by arson in July, 1983. In recent years, the dam had partially failed.

Juvenile American shad from Millstone River - NJDFW photo

Juvenile American shad were captured for the first time upstream of the recently removed Weston Mill Dam on the Millstone River by sampling crews conducting biannual monitoring of this natural resource damage (NRD) restoration project. The American Cyanamid Superfund Site is one of several contaminated sites along the Raritan River and its tributaries.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The New Jersey Spring Shad Run

There are many signs of spring in New Jersey including the migration of shorebirds and horseshoe crabs converging on Delaware Bay. There is also a spring migration in the water as American shad move into the Delaware River to spawn. This is no modern ritual and seining (netting) activities with shad go back to the Lenni Lenape Indians of our area who used that method long before colonists appeared.

How many shad will be seen and when the "shad run" occurs at different times each year because they vary depending on water temperature and conditions.

The American shad is the largest member of the herring family. They are found on the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to the St. John's River in Florida. They spend three to six years in the ocean and then return to freshwater in the spring to spawn.

Adults usually weigh from four to eight pounds, but New Jersey State and International Game Fish Association record shad are more than 11 pounds.

Anglers know them for their strength and fighting ability.

The Lewis Fishery Report for the Delaware River for 4/15/19 says that "The river was about 4.58' when we would have been trying to make a haul tonight. Too high to fish. Forecast for the crest at Lambertville is for 7.2' now. With a lot of luck we might be able to get back at it Thursday or Friday."

Fishing for shad on the Delaware River usually begins around the end of March. The warm water discharged from a power plant in Trenton warms that section of water.

Low water and warm temperatures will mean an earlier shad run in the Delaware.

As the water warms to 50° F, and the population migrates upstream, shad will be caught all the way up river to the New York state line and beyond through the end of May and into June.

This video shows a couple clips of herring and hickory shad spawning in a Maryland tributary on April 13, 2015. Shad and herring are anadromous fish, meaning they migrate from the ocean to freshwater streams each spring to spawn.

Shad are primarily saltwater fish, but they swim up freshwater rivers to spawn in the spring, and in June 2017 American Shad were documented in the Musconetcong River in Hunterdon and Warren counties after an absence of at least a century.

Unlike some other fish species, many shad survive the spawning and swim back to the Atlantic Ocean.

NJDEP Delaware River Shad Fishing Reports
Delaware River Shad Fishermen's Association