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Licensed employee allows Ascension mosquito abatement to take flight

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PRAIRIEVILLE - Ascension Parish's fight against mosquitoes is ‘taking off.’ The Parish bought a drone to releases a formula that reduces the amount of flying bugs last year. But it took 6 months for an employee to be certified to fly it.

The drone is being used to spray insecticide right after a rainfall, and in areas where trucks and manual sprayers can't reach.

“The drone is very efficient, very accurate,” said David Matassa, the Director of Ascension Parish Mosquito Patrol.

Matassa says the problem areas are where stagnant water sits among trees and vegetation. He says that’s where mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs.

"Mosquitoes have to have water to breed,” said Matassa.

Rather than wait for them to hatch, the Parish can now fly their drone over the area, spray larvacide and kill the mosquitoes before they bite.

“There's a lot of areas like this, which is hard to get to and very practical for the drone,” said Matassa.

Right now Robert Bergeron is the only employee that can fly the $8,000 drone. He was recently certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a licensed drone pilot.

“Instead of having somebody walk through the water for a few hours, we can take this out there, and in 30 minutes it will be treated,” explained Bergeron.

The drone can hold three gallons of larvacide in a tub. It then sprays out of orange spouts reaching up to a 20-foot path. The technology isn't replacing trucks or manual spraying, but with a case of West Nile recently diagnosed in the Parish, the drone will help keep mosquito populations under control.

"It's a great tool to have. We put it to use and it's going to work fine to reduce the population of mosquitoes in Ascension Parish,” said Matassa.

In addition to the drone, the Parish has seven full-time sprayers. They spray daily along main roads but also offer a private spraying service through their website.


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