I visited with Dynamic Aviation yesterday at the Pecora Symposium, and learned of some interesting large-scale aerial operations to control pests and disease. Dynamic Aviation was responsible for the aerial spraying of thousands of acres in Texas after Hurricane Ike to kill mosquitos that were reaching epic proportions due to the saturated ground.
These planes are also equipped with hoppers that have been used to disperse oral vaccines from the air. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting a broad-scale effort to limit the western expansion of raccoon rabies. The planes drop biscuits made of fish meal that contain the rabies vaccine, that animals find and eat, inoculating themselves. This large-scale “vaccine barrier” effort runs from eastern Ohio at the border of Lake Erie all the way down the Appalachian ridge to Mobile County, Alabama at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.
Another interesting application is designed to halt the spread of the Mediterranean fruit fly by dropping sterilized male fruit flies from the air. A contract company breeds the fruit fly, the males are separated and sterilized with gamma rays and then chilled to induce suspended animation. The flies are dropped from the air at 8,000 feet and as they fall they warm up and begin flying. The sterilized males court the females and mate without producing any offspring, and the insects die out. All without spraying harmful chemicals.