Mosquito borne diseases kill millions of people worldwide, every year. the world is following a trend of global warming and the rising temperatures have only helped in increasing the mosquito populations. Insecticides could help considerably in controlling the mosquito growth, but they have their own health concerns.
Another method of controlling the mosquito population growth is the Sterile Insect Technique. Using this technique sterile male mosquitos are introduced in a high-risk area. When female mosquitos mate with these sterile male mosquitos they produce non-viable eggs hence the mosquito population growth slows down.
the concept was simple, however, safely introducing the sterile male mosquitos in the area was an issue, considering the delicate nature of the mosquitos. The earlier methods of releasing sterile male mosquitos into the air were not efficient enough and they harmed the health of the male mosquitos, making them incapable of fulfilling their purpose.
In a recent study published in the journal Science Robotics, scientists have introduced a new air-drop method to release the mosquitos. Basically, the underlying principle stays the same, only a few tweaks have been made in the drone used to deploy them.
Scientists were challenged to develop an apparatus that was not too rough for the mosquitos and kept them at an optimum temperature. The recent apparatus developed, is capable of containing mosquitos at 50 degrees Fahrenheit and could safely release 15,000 mosquitoes per minute from an altitude of 328 feet. The drone is also equipped with sufficient cameras to assist the scientists on the ground in deploying those mosquitos in the precise area. Cameras would also further ensure that the mosquitos were released successfully.
These mosquitos can also be released into the atmosphere from the ground but releasing them from a drone is much cheaper. Further on, scientists plan on creating even lighter variants of the drone to make the deployment of sterile male mosquitos even easier.
The study, “Field performance of sterile male mosquitoes released from an uncrewed aerial vehicle”, was authored by J. Bouyer, N. J. Culbert, A. H. Dicko, M. Gomez Pacheco, J. Virginio, M. C. Pedrosa, L. Garziera, A. T. Macedo Pinto, A. Klaptocz, J. Germann, T. Wallner, G. Salvador-Herranz, R. Argiles Herrero, H. Yamada, F. Balestrino, and M. J. B. Vreysen.