Florida company deploying drones to fight mosquitoes across the US

An Asian Tiger mosquito feeds from the blood from a person in an undated photo.

A Florida-based company has been deploying drones across the United States to help keep mosquitoes at bay. 

Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, Leading Edge Aerial Technologies has drones in nearly half of all U.S. states and Australia, spraying for mosquitoes in places that are difficult to access.

The company’s drones are leased or sold to counties and operate in areas as small as one acre or as large as 250 acres, typically in places where houses are being built. 

The company says its PrecisionVision 40X, which is being used in Broward County, Florida, is the "most versatile [unmanned aircraft system] in the world, capable of applying granular materials, liquid, Ultra Low Volume and multispectral/LIDAR imagery." 

Before using drones, technicians engaged in a cumbersome process of going into marshes and spraying the area with a backpack blower. 

"You can imagine how inefficient that is, how dangerous it is for the technicians and also [the] environmental footprint of either the vehicle or the technician traversing the terrain," President and CEO Bill Reynolds told FOX Business, adding that using a drone is 12 times faster than conventional methods. 

"[W]e excel in the sense that the unmanned aircraft are quiet," Reynolds said. "They don’t have helicopters flying over their houses making the applications, so the precision of applications as well as the noise is dramatically reduced." 

The EPA-approved chemicals, which are manufactured by a different company, activate bacteria in the mosquito’s gut, eliminating larvae when they’re in the water, Reynolds explained. 

Inspectors on site will go back to these areas and use dipping devices to conduct tests in the water to assess the efficacy of the spray.

Reynolds, who has been in mosquito control for 40 years, said the spraying drones have been a big help in suppressing disease-carrying mosquito species, which are found in diverse climates, from freshwater to snowmelts to salt marshes. 

"They’re very prone and proactive in terms of monitoring for those species," Reynolds said of teams helping to reduce mosquito populations. "It’s an amazing group of people that a lot of folks don’t really know about." 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to the mosquito as "the world’s deadliest animal" because of its propensity to spread diseases like malaria, dengue, West Nile, yellow fever and Zika, among others.