Field performance of sterile male mosquitoes released from an uncrewed aerial vehicle

J. Bouyer, N. J. Culbert, A. H. Dicko, M. G. Pacheco, J. Virginio, M. C. Pedrosa, L. Garziera, A. T. M. Pinto, A. Klaptocz, J. Germann, T. Wallner, G. Salvador-Herranz, R. A. Herrero, H. Yamada, F. Balestrino and M. J. B. Vreysen,  Science Robotics,  5:10. 2020.

Genetic control methods of mosquito vectors of malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika are becoming increasingly popular due to the limitations of other techniques such as the use of insecticides. The sterile insect technique is an effective genetic control method to manage insect populations. However, it is crucial to release sterile mosquitoes by air to ensure homogeneous coverage, especially in large areas. Here, we report a fully automated adult mosquito release system operated from an uncrewed aerial vehicle or drone. Our system, developed and tested in Brazil, enabled a homogeneous dispersal of sterile male Aedes aegypti while maintaining their quality, leading to a homogeneous sterile-to-wild male ratio due to their aggregation in the same sites. Our results indicate that the released sterile males were able to compete with the wild males in mating with the wild females; thus, the sterile males were able to induce sterility in the native female population. The use of drones to implement the sterile insect technique will lead to improvements in areal coverage and savings in operational costs due to the requirement of fewer release sites and field staff.


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