Florida is discussing a very expensive means to eradicate a long standing mosquito problem with the usage of controversial drones. With a test flight due to take place, the Florida Keys Mosquito District will observe a drone aircraft worth $65,000 attempt to destroy areas of water lined with mosquito eggs. If the mission proves itself effective, Florida will consider purchasing the drones. With some critics speaking out on the matter, many debate whether drones should be used to destroy Florida’s mosquitoes.
The drone, known as Mavric, can fly as high as 200ft and use infrared cameras to test mosquito larvae from the sky, and if detected, can eject bacterial spray from one of the helicopters of a Florida based company, Condor Aerial.
Larvacide (fish) is being considered for a possible alternative in controlling the population, as are the use of genetically modified male mosquitoes to control reproduction. Female mosquitoes are the only ones known responsible for feeding on blood. This latter alternative is still awaiting approval from officials, which could cost thousands.
Agency director Michael Doyle says his team will be observing closely whether this technology can detect the insects and, “how much land [it can] cover quickly so the inspectors can get out that day.”
And while they are attempting to save more money by the use of these drones, critics like Jason Bittle point out that with 3.3 million people around the globe in areas with threats of Malaria, the investment of just $10 worth of mosquito netting is enough to save money without the need or use of drones.
Doyle defends that with their budget growing smaller, they’d like, “to find ways to cover [these areas of land] with fewer people.” Though there was no mention of plans to reduce the number of people already doing this job on foot.
Environmentally speaking, the use of drones to rid of the mosquitoes in Florida with pesticides and genetically altered means is not only harming their population, but other insects and animals as well. Because of Florida’s naturally humid and warmer climates, mosquitoes are naturally drawn to it’s environment, and are even known pollinate their plants. Our ecosystems, no matter how scary or annoying they may be, are necessary. And while diseases like Malaria are troublesome, there are much safer and cheaper means of preventing these cases.
Drones in general have made for controversial topic pieces in recent media. But Condor Aerial CEO, Fred Culbertson insists that, “They’re not going to be used for surveillance.”
So while drones are being designed and used in various different ways, some are finding them rather pointless, especially when mosquitoes are concerned. Perhaps it’s in Florida’s best interest to not use drones to destroy mosquitoes and instead invest money in looking into ways of safely and naturally controlling the dangers associated with mosquito contact, taking the environment and it’s inhabitants into consideration.
Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin