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Surprising Science

Look Out, Mosquitoes…The Drones Are Coming

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is preparing to experiment with using Maveric drones to find pools of water that host mosquito larvae, ideally making eradication easier.

What’s the Latest Development?

Later this month, officials in the Florida Keys plan to unveil their newest weapon in the ongoing war against mosquitoes: Maveric drones equipped with shortwave infrared cameras. Normally used in law enforcement, the drones, which resemble hawks in flight, will search for warm, shallow pools of water that might be home to mosquito larvae. Unfortunately they are not equipped to kill the insects themselves; teams on the ground will do that by loading up the pools with larvicides.

What’s the Big Idea?

Mosquitoes are an enduring problem in tropical areas, where there are a lot of warm, wet places for them to grow and breed. Over 40 species live in the Keys, and they can transmit a number of dangerous and potentially deadly diseases. Michael Doyle, director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, thinks the drones will save valuable time: “If we can find the water, we can kill the mosquitoes. The real challenge is finding the water quickly enough.” The first test flight is scheduled for August 26.

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