Exploring the use of drones to help manage pests


July 2, 2021


Are you using drones in the field? Comment below or email us at pmpeditor@northcoastmedia.net to let us know. (PHOTO: ACCEPTFOTO/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES)

The use of drones (unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) has really taken off, and not just for fun.

More than 358,000 currently are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial use in the United States.

The Entomological Society of America gathered a collection of articles that explore how drones are being used to manage pests. “A Special Collection: Drones to Improve Insect Pest Management” was published on June 28 in the Journal of Economic Entomology. The journal is published by the Entomological Society of America bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October and December and features articles about the economic significance of insects and other arthropods.

The collection of articles includes new content along with content that previously appeared in the Journal of Economic Entomology. They examine how drones are used to detect and control pests to protect public health, and prevent damage to crops and plants.

Pest management professionals (PMPs) use drones as a safe alternative to climbing ladders during the inspection process. They fly drones equipped with cameras over the roofs of commercial and residential buildings to look for damage caused by pests — such as birds, squirrels and bats — and infestations of dangerous pests, such as stinging insects.

Entomologists are taking advantage of the technology to find and monitor pest habitats, distribute insecticides and pheromones, and release beneficial insects to help control agricultural pests, the collection of articles shows.

“Ten years ago, there was not much happening in the space in terms of entomologists deploying UAS for pest management,” said Nathan Moses-Gonzales, CEO of M3 Agriculture Technologies, who compiled the research collection with Dr. Michael Brewer, professor of field crops entomology with AgriLife Research at Texas A&M University. “The evolution of UAS technology in entomology has been fascinating to watch.”

The FAA regulates the use of drones for commercial and recreational purposes, and requires a license to operate them. Although the use of drones “come with a learning curve” Moses-Gonzales and Dr. Brewer said, this collection aims to help shorten the learning process.

About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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