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The Drones Are Coming! Keys Add A New Weapon In War Against Mosquitoes

Bruce Stevens
Florida Keys Mosquito Control District
The drone can carry 7 to 8 pounds of larvicide, enough to cover an acre or more.

Rainy season in South Florida means it's also mosquito season. And now there's a new weapon being added to the arsenal against the insects in the Florida Keys.

Wednesday morning, after heavy rains in Key West, residents woke up to a familiar sound — a mosquito control helicopter spraying larvicide aimed at the Aedes aegypti mosquito. That's the one that can carry diseases like zika and dengue fever.

Over the summer, people in the Upper Keys may see or hear a different kind of aircraft targeting saltmarsh mosquitoes.

The Florida Keys mosquito control district is deploying a drone in remote areas.

Andrea Leal,  executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, says the drone can carry up to 7 or 8 pounds of larvicide, enough to cover an acre or two.

"It's only treating very small areas. We want to make sure that we're precise with this. It's really starting out, seeing exactly what this can do for us," Leal said.

The district already uses drones to look for standing water in remote areas, before sending an inspector out to check. With a drone spreading the larvicide, the idea is to try to save some money.

"In order to dispatch a helicopter to treat those very small sites, it's very expensive for the district," Leal said.

The plan is to test the drone on a couple sites in Key Largo to see how it works.

"If all goes according to plan and is successful this year, we'll look at expanding the program," Leal said.

Anyone with questions can call the district at 305-292-7190 or email questions@keysmosquito.org.

The Keys Mosquito Control District also has an app that sends out notifications about mosquito spraying missions.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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