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What if drones could help combat a tiger mosquito invasion? This in any case appears to confirm an experiment conducted near Montpellier, the results of which were published on Tuesday.
For many years, the tiger mosquito has appeared in Europe and continues to grow. While many cases have already been reported in Belgium, it has now been detected in 65 departments in France. It is one of the most invasive species, with the ever-present risk that apart from stinging us and causing terrible itching, it can transmit all kinds of diseases like dengue, chikungunya or even zika. . ,
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Different methods are adopted to try to stop their spread. Especially tirelessly monitoring the water points in which the larvae develop and drying them as soon as possible.
In our French neighbors, a new technology is beginning to bear fruit: the drone drop of sterile males. The first tests took place on the island of Reunion (see video below), so the technology was first used in mainland France this summer.
40,000 mosquitoes released
A drone specially designed for this experiment dropped a total of 40,000 disinfected mosquitoes (which do not bite because only females do) and a fluorescent powder (to distinguish them from wild mosquitoes) in the city of Prade-le-Lez. ) is marked with . Outskirts of Montpellier.
Traps were set up to collect eggs on the ground to determine hatching rates in the laboratory, as well as scent traps to catch thousands of mosquitoes. Result? The scientists found that 2.5-5.4% of the mosquitoes were sterile and the hatching rate dropped from 95% to 83%.
However, these figures are still unofficial and the operational phase has not been started yet. However, the experiment remains encouraging, and may lead to new studies of this type and their funding. However, in order to have a real effect on egg fertilization, there must be ten times the number of sterile male mosquitoes compared to wild mosquitoes.
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