Perfecting Pesticide Applications to Protect the
Troops By Alfredo Flores February 27, 2007
When deployed to foreign countries, U.S. military personnel have
plenty to worry about. But, thanks to data collected by Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists, diseases spread
by insects and other arthropods in the field can now be of less concern.
The new data can help ensure that military and public health officials
will know best how to provide pest control to minimize problems caused by
arthropod carriers of human and animal diseases.
Deployed military personnel are often exposed to disease-carrying
insects, and they have little control over the surrounding environment.
Consequently, mosquitoes, houseflies and sand flies can complete development in
large numbers to produce harmful adult insects.
The ARS developed a method for dealing with this problem in the early
1960s by dispersing a cloud of fine, precisely sized droplets from a
truck-mounted machine. Known as ultra-low-volume application, this technique
actually reduced the amount of insecticide dispersed while increasing its
effectiveness. The critical factor in pesticides' effectiveness is the size of
the droplets that are dispersed.
Hoffmann, in the ARS
Pest Management Research Unit at College Station, Texas, used high-tech
methods to measure the range of droplet sizes produced by various kinds of
sprayers and products. He found considerable differences in their performance.
In addition to studying truck-mounted sprayers, Hoffmann also
evaluated the characteristics of four hand-held sprayers and a backpack
sprayer, testing them with water- and oil-based insecticidal solutions. As was
the case with the truck-mounted versions, he found significant differences in
the droplets generated by the five sprayers.
The U.S. military will be able to use these results to match the right
piece of equipment to the right insect problem, thus reducing disease
This work was supported by the joint efforts of ARS and the Department
of Defense Deployed War Fighter Protection Program, specifically with Todd
Walker of the U.S. Navy
Entomological Center of Excellence in Jacksonville, Fla. Numerous
manufacturers and chemical suppliers were also essential to the success of this
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.