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PHOTOS: Drone program launched to combat mosquitos

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Northern Nevada Public Health’s Vector Borne Disease Control (VBD) team this week demonstrated a new, groundbreaking solution for mosquito control at Washoe Lake. The state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, is employed to combat mosquito populations in Washoe County. The drone-applied treatments are similar in effectiveness to traditional helicopter disbursal methods. 

Over the past year, the VBD team has undergone rigorous training and navigated regulatory processes with the Federal Aviation Administration and other authorities to launch this transformative drone program.

According to officials, the drone is much more precise and economically practical than using a helicopter. Operating in hard-to-reach wetland areas where mosquitoes thrive, the drone will administer treatment to “targeted areas.” 

Will Lumpkin, a senior environmental health specialist at NNPH, said that even though the drone program is new this year, the VBD team can already cover hard-to-reach places with increased accuracy and efficiency.

The eco-friendly pellets of the mosquito control treatment prevent larvae from maturing to adult mosquitos. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

The drone measures approximately 9 feet by 9 feet and carries a payload of about 100 pounds of mosquito abatement pellets. The pellets are specifically formulated to slow the transition of mosquito larvae into disease-carrying adults. Lumpkin said they are an “environmentally conscious approach” and can help to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, which can lead to severe illness and, in some cases, even death.

The drone program will be combined with NNPH’s other existing mosquito reduction strategies which also use an eco-friendly granular product. The drone will operate exclusively in mosquito-rich environments ensuring a safe distance from residential homes and commercial areas.

NNPH officials said the introduction of this pioneering drone “underscores a commitment to innovative approaches in public health protection.”

Eric Marks
Eric Markshttp://ericmarksphotography.com/
Born in 1971, Eric Marks was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and family where photography and literature were normal parts of his life. His parents were always enthusiastic and supportive of his photography as a child, and encouraged him to read and write as much as possible. From 2005 to 2012 he owned an award-winning, international, high definition video production company, and has produced video and photography in over 14 different countries on four continents. Eric majored at the University of Nevada, Reno in English/Writing and Art, graduating with English and Photography degrees in 2013, and again with an Art degree in 2018. He teaches all genres of photography at Truckee Meadows Community College, is a freelance photojournalist for several publications, and offers private photography instruction.

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