Drones and Mosquito Control

Video from  Facebook Site Mosquito Drones showing precise briquette application.

Drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) represent the potential for targeting precise pesticide application to specific areas, reducing exposure to non-targeted areas and overall pesticide use. Dr. Randy Gaugler is heading a project for the use of UAVs for more precise pest control. These areas, often in large swamp or saltmarsh topographies, can represent significant costs to mosquito control programs when traditional methods of application are used, including aircraft and pilots. But UAVs can potentially eliminate much of that cost. Dr. Gaugler says “…when Greg Williams brought multi-rotors to my attention, particularly their ability to fly autonomous missions, I saw the potential for precision mosquito control. Small, agile, inexpensive, fully autonomous, easy to program missions, low maintenance—what was not to like?”
Dr. Greg Williams is the Superintendent of the Hudson Mosquito Control agency and a CVB member. He is responsible for designing and constructing the UAVs, along with help from other Center members, including Scott Crans, Ary Faraji, Devi Suman, Ishik Unlu and Yi Wang. The project’s critical mission is to target specific areas with application technology to reduce the environmental impact as well as time and dollars involved. This technology includes a carbon fiber 850 mm hexacopter with an underwater camera for surveying mosquito larval populations, the ability to dispense liquid or briquette pesticides and the use of GPS systems to determine and record flight patterns. Flights can be autonomous through a 3DR Pixhawk autopilot. This allows mosquito control agencies more flexibility and ease of use with the UAVs with a shallower learning curve.

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Island Drone Work

The Rutgers Drone Team was invited to David Copperfield’s private island for billionaires in the Bahamas (normally $54,000/day).  The team found four mosquito species on the island, listed here in order of importance:  Aedes taeniorhynchus, Psorophora johnstonii, Aedes tortillis, Culex bahamensis.  Surprisingly, no container species were found despite extensive surveillance efforts.  Key habitat was identified as limestone sinkholes and shallow rainwater pools associated with silver buttonwood trees.  A Special Topics class entitled “Tropical Pest Management” will be given on the island spring semester, headed by Profs. Gaugler & Unlu.   The drone team has been invited to return next fall to conduct further experimentation on mapping and aerial application.  All expenses are covered by Copperfield.islandtrip

The Rutgers Drone Team (l to r): Drs. Greg Williams, Randy Gaugler, and Ary Faraji.

More News from the Center

  • CVB has just received approval to initiate a search for the long desired microbiology position. More to follow.
  • The Faraji and Gaugler paper “Experimental host preference of diapause and non-diapause induced Culex pipiens pipiens” published this year in Parasites & Vectors is designated as “highly accessed” by the journal.
    • From the abstract and conclusions: “To determine the effect of diapause on the innate host preference of Cx. p. pipiens emerging from winter hibernation, we conducted host-choice experiments using bird and mammal hosts….We provide new information about the innate host preference of Cx. p. pipiens emerging from diapause in temperate habitats where winter survival is crucial for disease transmission cycles. Although we showed that Cx. p. pipiens prefers an avian to a mammalian host, nearly 20 % of emerging mosquitoes in the spring could feed on mammals. Changes in host preferences may also contain valuable clues about transmission dynamics and subsequent timely interventions by vector control and public health practitioners.”
  • CVB members Isik Unlu (Mercer Co.) and Greg Williams (Hudson Co.) were granted adjunct professor status by the Rutgers Department of Entomology.
Isik

Isik Unlu from Mercer County Mosquito Control

Greg Williams from Hudson County Mosquito Control

Greg Williams from Hudson County Mosquito Control

International News from the Center

  • Professor Gaugler and Dr. Wang recently visited China where they delivered invited lectures on their research. Local mosquito control personnel in Daqing displayed their equipment  and a discussion followed focused on the unique management issues assoc
    282px-China_Heilongjiang_Daqing.svg[1]

    Daqing City, China, from Wikipedia

    iated with a city surrounded by many thousands of acres of wetlands. In Beijing, they met with researchers at the People’s Liberation Army’s Center for Vector Biology, the most important medical entomology unit in China and an extremely impressive facility. Several days were also devoted to collections in Outer Mongolia at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  • Plans are progressing for a U.S.-Iran meeting on vector biology and control, likely to be held in early 2017 near Tehran. CVB member Dr. Ary Faraji is leading this initiative, which follows recent visits to Iran by Drs. Faraji, Goudarz Molaei (Connecticut AES) and Professor Gaugler. Dr. Faraji will deliver a presentation at AMCA on Iranian mosquito research and control efforts.

Global Reach

Rutger’s motto of “Jersey Roots, Global Reach” will be exemplified by a series of lectures to be given in Iran by Professor Randy Gaugler and Dr. Ari Faraji. On the 24th of May, the two travel to the capital of Iran and the University of Tehran’s medical school and the Department of Medical Entomology to present several lectures on new technology and frontiers in mosquito and nematode research.  They will also travel to lecture at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and later to Shiraz University in the town of the same name.

In reciprocity, the Center for Vector Biology welcomes the new addition of a visiting graduate student from Iran, Hana Allahverdi. Hana will be studying “zombie mosquitoes,” a topic to be further discussed in a future blog.global

Pennsylvania Vector Control Association (PVCA) 40th Anniversary

PVCA Logo

Scott Crans, Tadhgh Rainey and Robert Jordan were invited speakers at the 40th anniversary meeting of the Pennsylvania Vector Control Association meeting held in State College PA. Scott presented a paper reviewing the bionomics of Northeastern Psorophora, the importance of maintaining local collection records along with some encouragement to go out and find the less common species present in our region. Tadhgh reviewed the Hunterdon County Mosquito and Vector Control Program services highlighting his work with John Wallace of Millersville University and the most recent black fly nuisance problems experienced across much of Northwestern NJ this past summer. Robert Jordan presented an excellent paper addressing the expanding role of vector control agencies in reducing tick-borne disease. The 40th anniversary meeting was well attended and packed with informative presentations on a variety of topics. From the New Jersey perspective, hearing what is happening in the vector control arena at Pennsylvania State University, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Millersville University, Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was impressive. If you have a chance to participate in the future, this meeting is well worth the time and expense.