State Funding For Black Fly and West Nile Virus Control Programs Could Face Cuts

Mary Wilson & Essential Public Radio Staff June 4, 2012

The state’s black fly and West Nile virus control programs will soon kick into full swing and, despite a cut of about 3% in the proposed budgets of Governor Corbett and Senate lawmakers, officials say it will be as robust as ever.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokeswoman Amanda Witman said the loss of about $2,000 will be covered by cost efficiencies that have been developed.

“[The mosquito monitoring and spraying] program will still conduct the same amount of surveillance and maintain its staffing levels,” Witman said.

Thus far, the DEP has reported West Nile infected mosquitoes in eight Pennsylvania counties including Allegheny County, but no human cases have been confirmed. Of the state’s 67 counties, 41 monitor and spray mosquitoes to control West Nile virus and 33 participate in the black fly control program.

Witman said the West Nile reports are coming in earlier than normal this year because pests are beginning to emerge sooner due to this year’s unusual late winter and spring. “We have found this year that mosquitoes, black fly, and really all species of insects are out much earlier than in years prior. This can be attributed to the amount of precipitation that we’ve had, in addition to the exceptionally mild winter,” Witman said.