This technology is combined with drone and satellite images to identify breeding sites of previously unknown mosquitoes and eliminate them at the same time.
New technology has been developed by a University of South Florida public health researcher that can detect where mosquitoes live. This technique is now being used by pest control agencies throughout Africa and the Tampa Bay region. With the help of this technique, mosquitoes that spread malaria can be detected and eliminated.
The smartphone app, developed by Associate Professor Benjamin Jacob, combines his algorithms with drone and satellite images. So that previously unknown mosquito breeding sites can be identified and treated on the same day.
The success of the technology inspired him to launch Seek and Destroy, a program that enables him to train government agencies to use the app in contagion areas in Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya, and, Rwanda. With the help of this technology, it can be used in areas known for the disease, before the outbreak increases.
Jacob said that the countries where there is more outbreak of it cannot be described, it is like a tragedy. He said that for me, training the local people is a big deal. They want information and I think they are ready to do anything to stop malaria.
Jacob has done most of his research in Uganda, where malaria is the leading cause of death, especially in children under the age of five. As published in the American Journal of Entomology, they found that every one of the 120 homes they studied had a minimum of 200 mosquitoes.
With the help of local pest control officials trained by him, Jacob destroyed up to 100 percent of identified habitats in 31 days and eliminated blood parasite levels in previously treated and suspected malaria patients in 62 days.
How does this technology work?
This system works by identifying specific environments and organisms by their unique “fingerprints”. A red-green-blue thing especially is associated with a species or habitat. For Seek and Destroy to be successful, Jacob trained the drone to interpret and capture image datasets through his algorithms, which help the system understand key features such as soil or vegetation based on their fingerprints. does. Each image is then processed and those surfaces are covered with identified sources of water.
The data is then categorized into different categories based on the presence or absence of mosquito larvae, and whether the water helps to breed mosquitoes. Paired with Jacob’s algorithm, the drone was 100 percent accurate in locating bodies of water where mosquitoes are most likely to breed.
Jacob has researched mosquitoes since 2010, but he didn’t begin testing computer science algorithms on drones until 10 years later. it had been then that they found the potential effect of predictive mapping on mosquito control.
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Instead of spraying entire fields, we now target only those areas where there are mosquitoes, he said. With the ability to precisely identify where mosquitoes live, the use of harmful insecticides is reduced and the risk of mosquito resistance building up is also reduced.
Jacob’s mapping revealed that Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk counties are home to more than 9,000 mosquitoes carrying dengue and Zika viruses. He is now training local officials on the app and hopes that the larva control system will be completed by the summer of 2023.