How Do Mosquito Control Helicopters Work?


Mosquito control helicopters are a common tool used in the battle against the mosquito. But how do they work? How much do they cost, and why don’t these pesky insects just fly away from the helicopter spray?

Mosquito Control Helicopters

Helicopters are an important part of mosquito control. While it may look like fun to zoom around in a helicopter, spraying something on mosquitoes, there is actually a lot of science behind the process. The chemical sprayed by mosquito control helicopters is usually granular larvicide. This chemical is mixed with water and sprayed over bodies of water where mosquitoes might breed. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in damp areas, and when water floods these areas, the larvae hatch. They become adult mosquitoes in as little as 10 days.

Mosquito control helicopters spray larvicide on water, as well as misting adulticide over a specific area. The helicopters fly at night because mosquitoes are most active at night and because there is less wind and more moisture in the air. So what are the steps that must happen for a helicopter to spray mosquito control?

Mosquito Control Helicopters: How They Work

Mosquito control helicopters spray insecticides to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a particular area. When the weather is right, with little wind and high humidity, these helicopters take off at night to prevent mosquitoes from biting people while they sleep. Helicopter pilots work with public health professionals to identify problem areas that need treatment. They then use GPS to locate these areas and safely apply the pesticides. The following steps outline how mosquito control helicopters work.

> 1. Mosquitoes enter adulthood

> 2. Public health professionals identify problem areas

> 3. Mosquito control helicopters take off at night with GPS guidance

> 4. The helicopter sprays larvicide over water and adulticide over land

> 5. Any remaining mosquitoes bite people

Mosquito control helicopters are used in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus. The helicopters fly over mosquito breeding grounds, dropping a pesticide that kills the mosquitoes.

The first helicopter mosquito-control efforts began in 1953 in Palm Beach County, Florida. Mosquito control districts in many areas of the country now use this method to combat the mosquito population and reduce the spread of disease.

Mosquito control helicopters are used to spray pesticides to kill and control mosquito populations in urban areas. They are most commonly used in the southern United States, where mosquitoes and other insects are more prevalent due to the warm weather. The technology has greatly reduced the spread of disease among humans and animals.

A helicopter is an excellent choice for controlling mosquito populations because it can cover a large area of low-lying land quickly, hover when necessary and maneuver around obstacles such as trees or power lines. Mosquito breeding grounds such as swamps, lakes and streams are excellent places for mosquitoes to lay eggs and wait out the winter months until they can hatch in the spring.

Most mosquito control helicopters use a 1,000 gallon tank that holds pesticide. Tanks are filled using a water truck on site or at a nearby airport if no water truck is available. Once the helicopter is loaded with pesticide, a pilot will take off and begin spraying over an affected area. A pilot will usually fly under 500 feet above ground level to ensure that all pesticides reach their intended target.

The helicopters that spray for mosquitoes are usually light twin-engine Bell Jet Ranger or similar aircraft. The helicopter is fitted with an external tank carrying up to 200 gallons of product. It is also equipped with a special fan, called a rotor atomizer, which breaks the product down into tiny droplets.

The sprayer holds the helicopter at a height of 30 to 50 feet above the ground. As the helicopter flies along its designated flight path, the pilot releases a stream of product through the fan. This system allows us to apply tiny amounts of insecticide over large areas.

The insecticides used are considered biologically safe for humans and domestic animals, but it is recommended that you remain indoors during treatment and for about 30 minutes after spraying ends. We recommend that you close your windows during the spray operation and for about 30 minutes afterward. It is especially important to keep pets indoors during this time period.

The helicopters are equipped with a special compartment that holds the insecticide. A spray nozzle, located in the compartment, is connected to a pump and a system of pipes. The pilot controls the spray nozzle and applies the insecticide directly over areas that require treatment. The pilot can control the size of area being treated by varying the amount of insecticide used, which is monitored by a flow meter.

The helicopter usually flies at an altitude of 10 to 15 feet above ground level, at a speed of about 35 mph. Each acre requires about six minutes for treatment; however, depending on the topography and wind conditions, this time may vary.

The product used in these applications is Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis Israelensis). Bti is an environmentally safe biopesticide that is lethal only against mosquitoes and black flies (and other closely related insects). The material we apply is comprised of tiny granules that float down through the air like dust particles. Bti has no effect on mammals, birds or fish.

From a helicopter, the pilot releases a solution of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) into the air. The solution is aimed at areas where mosquitoes breed and congregate. This biologic mosquito control kills mosquitos in the larval stage before they have a chance to become adults. The BTI solution is harmless to people, pets, birds, fish and beneficial insects such as honey bees.


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