Drones deployed as mosquito season hits full swing

Tweed Shire Council

Council is trialling drone technology to treat mosquito populations as the insect’s breeding season takes full effect after recent heavy rain. It is also calling on the community to help reduce the impact of mosquitoes through a range of simple, protective measures in the home.

Council’s mosquito larvae management program has been in place for nearly 40 years and Tweed is the only local government area in the Northern Rivers with a regular larvae treatment program.

Council’s Senior Program Leader – Environmental Protection David Bell said Council’s pest management team employed a range of techniques to tackle the pest.

“Our program involves a wide range of techniques to beat mosquitoes including spraying large-scale breeding grounds from the air via plane or helicopter, when weather conditions allow,” Mr Bell said.

“Due to recent issues with contractor availability, Council is currently trialling different methods of arial mosquito larvae treatment such as the use of drone technology to treat certain known breeding areas.”

Council began its drone treatment trials in Pottsville late last year, with further trials underway this week at Tumbulgum.

Treatment also began last week in the northern areas of the Tweed at Bilambil, Terranora, Cobaki and Piggabeen, with additional treatment scheduled across the Shire where required, during the mosquito-breeding season.

Mr Bell said the treatment used by Council was safe and did not affect other aquatic organisms.

“Our mosquito larvae treatment applies products targeting immature larval stages, which interrupts mosquito breeding and reduces the number of adult mosquitoes,” he said.

“Treatment is only effective when carried out at immature mosquito larval stages. The larvicide we use is specific to mosquitoes and several other closely related flies. It poses no harm to other aquatic non-target organisms.”

Council’s treatment program is regulated by NSW EPA, with its mosquito program supported by NSW Health. The program also monitors local mosquito populations to see if they are carrying diseases such as Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest viruses.

Mr Bell said while Council teams were doing what they could to treat local mosquito populations, residents could help by taking steps to prevent inadvertently creating perfect mosquito breeding grounds around their homes.

“While we are doing everything we can on the frontline to combat mosquito larvae, it’s important people understand the ways in which they can protect themselves and minimise localised population explosions,” Mr Bell said.

“Something as simple as having a small pool of stagnant water in the backyard can mean mosquitoes – which can lay up to 300 eggs at one time – become rampant within a small space of time.”

“One of the most effective ways to stop mosquitoes breeding nearby is to empty any water-holding containers such as pet bowls, pot plants and bird baths at least once a week.”

Other ways to protect yourself and your family include wearing insect repellent, covering up exposed skin and avoiding mosquito-prone areas such as bushland and wetlands – especially at dawn and dusk.

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