CASE STUDY: Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Seek and Destroy Mosquito Populations

Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are an increasing threat

SUMMARY: Unmanned aircraft systems have incredible potential toward combating the world-wide nuisance and potential health epidemic posed by mosquito populations. Drones offer the ability to detect and eliminate mosquito breeding pools more rapidly and cost effectively than traditional mosquito control methods.

PROBLEM: Throughout recorded history, mosquitos have been the cause of substantial human misery, disease, and death. The number of emerging infectious diseases that are mosquito-borne like Zika, Chikungunya, and West Nile virus are evolving. Mosquitos are a public health risk. They are a nuisance, and economically they are not good for a country, or its people. In South Florida, the threat of the Zika virus carried by mosquitos is poised to severely impact the tourism economy unless aggressive action is taken to mitigate the dangers of an ever-resilient mosquito population.

SOLUTION: Scientists as the University of Adelaide (Australia) led by Dr. Ken Clarke are testing UAS to combat mosquitos. There are three primary phases of effective mosquito control according to Clarke; 1) locating potential pools of water that may host mosquito populations, 2) detecting the presence of mosquitos or their larvae at those sites, and 3) dispensing larvicide to targeted pools to prevent the breeding of additional mosquitos. Clarke believe drones can be effectively used to assist with each phase. "Drones have great potential in the fight against mosquitoes," Dr Clarke said."It's cheaper, it's faster. It allows for easier access to otherwise difficult terrain. A lot of mosquito breeding habitat is in salt marshes or wetlands and they typically require hours of walking through or in some cases amphibious vehicles to check out all the little pools."

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