Florida’s High-Tech War Against Mosquitoes Involves Drones

Residents of South Florida may soon see small unmanned aerial vehicles flying over their communities. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District plans to launch a new project that aims to utilize drones to stop the spread of potentially harmful mosquitoes. 

Officials said the organization will spend the entire summer to spray or distribute larvicide over salt marshes and other remote areas using the drones. The project will mainly target the Aedes aegypti mosquito species, which is known for carrying deadly diseases, like zika and dengue fever.

Florida Keys hopes the project will eliminate the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes and reduce the population of such insects. Officials also said the high-tech effort will help the local government save a large amount of money, Futurism reported.

The drones will seek remote pools of standing water, a task previously assigned to large, manned helicopters, WLRN has learned.

"In order to dispatch a helicopter to treat those very small sites, it's very expensive for the district," Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, said. Each drone could carry up to seven or eight pounds of larvicide. 

Such amount is enough to spray over one acre or two.

"It's only treating very small areas,” she noted. “We want to make sure that we're precise with this. It's really starting out, seeing exactly what this can do for us."

Florida Keys Mosquito Control District plans to conduct initial launch of the project on a couple sites in Key Largo to test the drones and the effectiveness of the larvicide. 

"If all goes according to plan and is successful this year, we'll look at expanding the program," Leal said.

Mosquitoes And The Diseases They Bring

More than one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases every year across the world, according to the American Mosquito Control Association. The insects transmit several diseases as well as parasites that affect both humans and animals. 

Just the mosquito bite alone can cause severe skin irritation. Existing diseases that have been affecting most of the world include malaria, chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, west nile virus and zika virus.