Keeping Mosquitoes Out of Foreign Airspace
April 4, 2007
First, air curtainsthose huge
blowers at some commercial establishments' entrances and exitswere tested
for use on airplanes to keep mosquitoes and other flying insects from getting
on. Now, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Gainesville, Fla., are
trying the same technology to also keep insect pests from getting off planes
Pesky mosquitoes can really travel around, but not always under their own
power. Sometimes they hitch rides in commercial aircraft, and that can pose
problems internationally. Some countries, especially those with high levels of
tourism, want assurances that any insects that may be on a plane when it
arrives will not leave the aircraft.
Recently retired chemist Dave Carlson, entomologist
Hogsette and colleagues in the
and Fly Research Unit at the ARS
for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, in Gainesville, have
investigated this alternative control approach.
Hogsette and colleagues tested the air curtains' ability to blow hitchhiking
insects back into the cabin while passengers disembark. A minimum airflow of
6,000 cubic feet per minute is sufficient to prevent insects from passing
through. Placing net curtains or screens impregnated with safe-to-handle
pesticides across front and rear doors kills any insects that may attempt an
escape. To control insects that may remain, aerosol sprays can be used after
all crew and passengers have left the aircraft.
Health officials from several Caribbean countries have shown interest in
using air curtains to prevent insect escapes from incoming flights. Currently,
in-flight spraying of passengers, crew and crew quarters is done to prevent
accidental introduction of invasive species into the country. It is hoped that
air curtains can provide a viable alternative to chemical sprays that currently
raise health concerns.
more about the research in the April 2007 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.