Aerial spraying to reduce numbers of disease-carrying mosquitoes over five southwestern Cattaraugus County towns began Monday night after being delayed for several days by weather conditions.

Duflo Spray Chemical Inc. of Lowville was hired last week by Cattaraugus County lawmakers to spray the adulticide Kontrol 30-30 over the entire town of Conewango and parts of Randolph, Coldspring, Napoli and Leon. The total acreage is 64,680 acres at a cost of $262,720, half of which will be reimbursed by the state.

A horse in the town of Conewango that died earlier this month tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. The county health department issued an emergency declaration after conferring with the New York State Department of Health.

In addition, spraying over another 11,590 acres along the Allegheny River valley was authorized by county legislators at a cost of $50,880.

That spraying was to begin tonight, but the delays in spraying over the southwestern part of the county set that schedule back.

Duflo owner Jeff Duflo told health department officials he thought it would take four nights to do the initial spraying. Wind and rain had prevented him from flying from Friday through Sunday nights. Mosquitoes are most active around dawn and dusk. Plans call for spraying this week at treetop level to begin around 5:45 p.m.

Not starting the aerial spraying until Monday night means the additional 11,590 acres from Portville to Salamanca may not start until Thursday or Friday. Included in the supplemental spraying are the cities of Olean and Salamanca and part of the towns of Olean and Salamanca, Portville, Hinsdale, Allegany, Carrollton and Great Valley.

Meanwhile, an Olean resident noted the county hadn’t sprayed mosquito insecticide since 2003. Marcia Kelly, who admitted mosquitoes in Olean “have been terrible this summer,” questioned county lawmakers’ decision for additional spraying outside the southwestern part of the county where the horse died of EEE or WNV.

“It’s a warning bell for everyone,” said Kelly, who has long opposed the spraying of adulticide. “If this is going to be happening every year, they should expand their mosquito surveillance program over more of the county.”

In addition, Kelly thought the numbers of mosquitoes have been declining in recent weeks and questions the need for additional spraying outside the area around Conewango where the horse died.

“Is it a good policy to be spraying now that the mosquitoes have gone?” she asked.

Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, county public health director, said that while Duflo owner and pilot Jeff Duflo has been unable to fly due to weather — it has been rainy or too windy each night since Friday — the county continues to check traps set for mosquitoes.

“We are getting hundreds of mosquitoes,” Watkins said. We are monitoring them daily.” Even though temperatures have dipped below 50 degrees at night, it warms up again during the day making them more active, he said.

Complaints to legislators from residents in the Allegheny River Valley, where a larvicide was sprayed last month to keep mosquito larvae from hatching in breeding pools, led to the decision for the additional adulticide spraying, Watkins said.

Asked whether the health department would consider expanding the area they cover with mosquito surveillance to the southwestern part of the county next year, Watkins said that would be up to the municipalities involved. The county bills the towns for any spraying dictated by large numbers of larvae or types of mosquitoes caught in traps.

“It would require the towns to help pay,” he added.

Kontrol 30-30 contains permethrin and is highly toxic to bees and extremely toxic to aquatic organisms, including fish and aquatic invertebrates.

(Contact county reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com)

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