COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — As the wet season gets closer - bringing more mosquitoes to Southwest Florida - a new way to fight the blood-sucking pests is taking off at the Collier County Mosquito Control District.
"We're launching our drone program to help us with surveillance, and the ability to map those areas in a more precise, safe and efficient manner," said Robin King, director of communications for Collier Mosquito Control.
Before this year, King said that they have relied on helicopters to give them a bird's-eye view to locate the hot breeding grounds for the pests, and to spray larvicide on those areas to keep the mosquito population under control.
"Mosquitoes don't always breed in easy-to-get-to areas," she said. "With the drones, we're able to get very precise footage of the areas those mosquitoes are coming from."
The district has several different kinds of drones, depending on the job. While some are used for surveillance, a larger one can carry up to thirteen pounds of larvicide, and disperse it in areas that aren't easy to target.
"Which is very efficient, compared to putting a helicopter with a pilot up in the air that covers a much broader area," King said.
She said that helps them save money, by not over-spreading larvicide in areas that don't need it.
She said the district also has a waterproof drone that has the ability to set down on standing water where mosquitoes like to breed. It has an underwater camera attached to provide a view below the surface.
"The drone allows us to see the footage of the mosquito larvae that are swimming around in those waters," King said.
The public is invited to learn more about the drone program at the Collier County Mosquito Control District's annual open house on Saturday April 6. It lasts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their facility at 600 North Road in Naples.