Orange County Uses Drone to Battle Mosquitos

Orange County Uses Drone to Battle Mosquitos
A tiger mosquito that is known to carry diseases like malaria. (Jack Leonard/Getty Images)

After the heavy rains this winter, officials in Orange County, California have added a new tool to their arsenal to fight off summer mosquitos.

Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control are now using drones to attack mosquito development in marshes, large ponds, and parks.

Because the insects promulgate by laying their eggs in water, the increased rainfall and water levels in Orange County and those surrounding it pose an increased risk for heightened mosquito populations this summer, experts say.

“There’s quite a bit more mosquitoes due to the rain,” Orange County drone operator John Savage said in a recent interview with ABC7 News.

Inspector Mike DuBose with the vector and control district says experts are already seeing more than double the number of mosquitoes in some areas compared to past seasons.

Other common methods of mosquito control used in the past include backpack sprayers, trucks, airplanes, and helicopters, which distribute mosquito repellants. But according to county vector control experts, drones allow for more precise treatments and avoid the need to trample through sensitive lands.

Officials also say drones are flown higher than all nesting birds, and also allow access to places that can’t be reached by a person with a backpack sprayer or truck. The district said drones will not be used in residential areas and have shown high effectiveness in rural areas.

According to recent media reports, such drones can carry up to 20 pounds of mosquito-killing agents which kill mosquito larvae.

The substance, officials said, is a “naturally occurring soil bacterium” that allegedly does not affect sensitive areas like wetlands and marshes.

Ecologists from the district also say drones can treat each acre of land in under two minutes, a task that would take “at least an hour by a worker on foot with a backpack.”