By Angela Musallam

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — Placer County is taking the fight against mosquitoes to new heights. The county’s Mosquito and Vector Control District is now using drones for mosquito control.

The agency is the first in California to use the technology in its vector control program.

Mosquito season is here and for Scott Schon of the Placer County Mosquito and Vector Control District, it’s time to put drones to the test.

“There’s only so much manpower. We have to cover all of Placer County,” said Schon.

The county’s mosquito and vector control district is using two drones to target mosquitoes this season.

“We can find more larval sources and we can put a dent in the population of mosquitoes,” added Schon.

One of the drones measures weather conditions, and if they’re just right, would give a manned aircraft the green light to fly up and spray the target area. The second drone has the ability to land in water.

“Picking up traps, lowering traps, doing some kind of visual assessment of the water and see if we can spot larvae or mosquito fish,” said Schon.

“These are a game changer,” said Joel Buettner, the general manager of the vector control district in Placer County.

Buettner says now the agency can target hot spots technicians couldn’t reach before.

“Right now they literally have to go out into the field take a dip of water and see if they have larvae in a place like a rice field. It’s difficult,” said Buettner.

The drones can fly up to 400 feet and survey close to 20 mosquito sources at a time, giving technicians a live map of where mosquitoes are the biggest threat.

“Timing is everything with mosquito control, and we need to know what’s going on out there so we can address it and keep people safe,” Buettner added.

The district is focusing on agricultural lands in western Placer County. Drones will not be flying near residential areas.

The district is also working to get another drone that, like a traditional aircraft, could spray mosquito hot spots.


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