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Mosquito Spray Truck
Posted June 20, 2017 | 4:21 PM

Taking the Fight to the Streets

Equipment is first of its kind in Tampa Bay Area deployed to kill mosquitoes before they become adults

Residents will soon see, and hear, a new mosquito treatment system rolling through their neighborhood. As part of Hillsborough County's efforts to utilize the most modern technology and equipment in the fight against mosquitoes, Mosquito Control will begin to employ the Buffalo Turbine system to safely and efficiently eliminate mosquito larvae throughout targeted breeding grounds.

Unlike the spray trucks residents typically see rolling down the street when mosquitoes are already flying around in force, the four new Buffalo Turbine trucks are intended to halt adult mosquitoes from forming by killing developing larval mosquitoes while they are still concentrated and trapped in water.

Working like a huge, high speed fan, the Buffalo Turbine spray system can treat in two hours the same area it would take Mosquito Control staff two weeks to cover by foot. The system deploys a non-toxic naturally occurring larvacide mixture 150 feet into the air at speeds approaching a Category 4 hurricane. Micro-droplets of larvicide and water then create a 500-foot wide treatment zone while drifting to the ground, reaching into backyards, wooded areas, and through dense foliage to kill mosquito larvae harbored in containers of standing water.

While the treatment equipment is new, the larvacide, BTI or Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis has been the go-to larvacide for mosquito control districts across the United States for decades, and has long been used in granular form in Hillsborough County. It is a natural soil bacteria that specifically target and only affect the larvae of the mosquito, blackfly, and fungus gnat. BTI is not harmful to people, pets, or beneficial organisms such as bees, butterflies, and amphibians, and is even used for pest control in organic farming operations.

The Buffalo Turbine is just one of the tools being deployed by the Hillsborough County Mosquito Control Unit to protect residents from mosquito-borne illnesses. Mosquito Control's latest high-tech weapon, the Mosquito Analytics and Response System, maps the entire county in real-time detail to enhance the unit's ability to identify and manage areas where mosquitoes breed and live. Mosquito Control is also hosting interns from the University of South Florida's College of Public Health for six months, where they will focus on studying and collecting data on Aedes aegypti, the species that carries the Zika virus.

Learn more about fighting mosquitoes

Top Photo information: A new Buffalo Turbine larvacide system is targeting mosquitoes in Hillsborough County before they can become biting adults.