BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY & MANAGEMENT OF EMERGING DISEASE VECTORS

Project Details

Description

Aside from being a nuisance, mosquitos pose an important public health risk to the U.S. population. Mosquitos vector viral diseases that are harmful to both humans and animals, including West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and, more recently, more exotic diseases such as chikungunya and dengue fever, both of which have arrived in the United States. Since mosquitos frequent shoreline areas with abundant wetlands and coastal salt marshes, effective mosquito control is also crucial to the economic health of those shoreline communities where tourism is an integral part of the local economy.In 1930, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station made the first aerial spray application for mosquito control. Aerial delivery of furnace oil at 8 gallac was ridiculed as 'pie-in-the-sky,' but by 1947 a million acres in New Jersey were being treated annually via aircraft. Today, we are increasingly challenged to diminish pesticide use. We submit that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) offer potential to reduce broadcast in favor of highly targeted applications, i.e. precision mosquito control. We have constructed a prototype 6-rotor heavy-lift UAV of carbon fiber for <$5000. Our robocopter with mounted sprayer weighs 7.5 kg and is equipped with an array of sensors including sonar, barometer (altitude hold), magnetometer (direction), gyros (stabilization), 2-axis camera (video downlink), accelerometers, optical flow (position hold), long range digital control, GPS, radio telemetry and more. The aircraft is capable of entirely autonomous missions. We plan to conduct proof-of-concept field tests on the aircraft's capability to contribute to multiple functions in precision mosquito control including adulticiding, larviciding, larval surveillance, adult surveillance and research. Prototype devices for each of these essential mosquito control functions have been developed for our aerial platform and only await field experimentation.Autodissemination. Female mosquitoes contaminated with the low-risk insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen cantransport lethal concentrations of this substance to additional larval habitats. This offers the promise of effective, economic and environmentally-friendly control for these species. We have developed an autodissemination station which is highly effective in cage and room studies at attracting and contaminating oviposition-seeking females, and releasing lethal concentrations of pyriproxyfen into subsequent containers visited. The prototype has high attraction, exclusion from oviposition, unidirectional design, specialized formulations, extended activity, and is maintenance-free, biodegradable, user-friendly and low-risk. We propose to now extend the concept to additional pest species, assess the effect of field variables on station efficacy, assess field deployment on localized mosquito populations in cryptic habitats, and modify the station to yield a low-cost yet effective product. Prototype stations will be tested in field conditions to determine how far the pyriproxyfen can be disseminated, how well it reaches cryptic habitats, and the impact of competing site abundance, size, and water quality. Cage and room tests will determine effectiveness of the current design, evaluate oviposition attractants, and assess the impact of our formulations on mosquito fitness. Crucial field trials will center on focal points of high mosquito activity (`hot spots'). Field deployed stations will be tested over time for structural stability, efficacy duration, and biodegradation. The prototype will be modified as necessary to achieve optimal efficacy, cost, and versatility. The final design resulting at the end of this phase will be suitable for large-scale production
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date8/1/099/30/19

Funding

  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))

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