Drones to Support Sterile Insect Technique

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  showcased a new technology to control mosquito-borne diseases.  The technology is environment- friendly Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). Mosquito-borne diseases take a heavy toll in developing countries accounting for millions of deaths. The  IAEA has come out with a study showing the use of drones to support the application of SIT. In addition, the IAEA  released the Guidance Framework for Testing the Sterile Insect Technique.

More About the Innovative Technology

The technology uses radiation to sterilize mass-reared male insects. The sterilized males mate with wild females when released. As a result, no offspring produced, and insect population decline subsequently. However, the uniform release of sterile male insects required to compete with their wild counterparts The air release method of SIT technology able to damage fragile legs and delicate wings of the mosquitoes.

Effective Drones Prototype

The prototype was first tested in the city of Juazeiro Brazil in 2018. The drones can carry up to 50,000 sterile mosquitoes per flight. Ground release techniques were in use to spread sterile male mosquitoes. The ground releases were both costly and labor-intensive and time -consuming as well. The drone flight covers as much as the area covered by ground releases just in 10 minutes.   The drone releases were used to fight agricultural pests such as fruit fly and tsetse fly. 

“The findings represent a major breakthrough for expanding the use of SIT against mosquitoes,”stated Jeremy Bouyer, medical entomologist.

The IAEA developed drone-based release by partnering with the FAO and WeRobotics. The WeRobotics is the Swiss- American non-profit group. The technology developed is a cost-effective mosquito control methods to eradicate mosquitoes. Currently, IAEA is focusing on manufacturing lighter models wherein 30 000 mosquitoes will be carried around. In urban areas generally, lighter models are allowed to hover in urban skyscape. Urban areas see a maximum concentration of Aedes mosquitoes that transmit diseases. 

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