TAKING FLIGHT IN BATTLE

Like a futuristic battleground, a fleet of armed and un-crewed aircraft, or “drones” as they are more commonly know, are set to take to the skies in an attempt to fight back against a form of terrorism that has been plaguing many.

However, this particular war is not against terrorists, or even against uniformed armies from another country, but rather it is the next stage in Valencia´s battle against the mosquito.

The announcement was made by the councillor for public health, Lourdes Bernal, during the presentation for the European Mosquito Control conference will be taking place in Valencia in February.

Bernal said that the use of this equipment is “pioneering” as they have “intelligent surveillance systems” on board, which enables safer control and monitoring of mosquitoes, as well as their destruction.

The use of drones is largely prohibited in Spain, with the exception of by the military, and exceptional applications such as been approved here, with Valencia having been authorised to use drones in the detection and location of standing water.

However, despite the authority having been granted, the aircraft can only be used on municipal land, flying no more than 500 metres from the operator and that pilot must be aviation trained and certified to fly.

The characteristics of the city, with its wide network of ditches and canals, golf courses, rice fields and the Natural Park of Albufera, make it an ideal home for mosquitoes, who tend to live in areas less easily accessible by ground crews.

Traditionally, the council will treat known areas with chemicals that prevents water synthesize, as well as insecticide, focussing on removing the larvae. The council also deal with other “pests” with their annual use of 90,000 kilos of rat poison injected biscuits, and chemical treatment of some 3,000 palms.

Although often considered a pest by humans, many scientists and ecologists warn of the dangers of eradicating small insects, due to the impact it has on others. The pesticides can enter the water systems and cause direct problems for humans, whereas killing the mosquitoes on mass takes away food for birds, many of whom then leave the area completely, others switch their attention to eating crops to survive. The lack of birds also plays a part in the potential risk to the delicate eco-systems, which can ultimately affect the entire planet, according to the scientific evidence.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/45012/

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