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Why are Drones the future for Fire Ant Control in Agriculture?

Drones are the future for fire ant control in agriculture. They allow farmers to identify mounds to use less material. They also reduce labor costs. But why is fire ant control so important?

Fire ants are considered a significant pest in agriculture because they can damage crops and harm or kill livestock. Nuisance from fire ant stings can hinder feed efficiency in animal production. They can also disrupt planting and harvesting operations by getting into machinery, and can bite and sting people working in fields.

Additionally, fire ants can displace native ant species, which can disrupt ecosystems and harm beneficial insects and animals that rely on them for food. Control of fire ants is therefore crucial for protecting crops, livestock, and people working in agriculture, as well as preserving ecosystem balance.

What products are labeled for fire ant control?

There are several bait products labeled for fire ant control in pastures. It is extremely important to read all labeling to use products properly. Advion, one of the most common fire ant bait products, is NOT labeled for use in grazing pastures. The two general categories of product are baits and repellents. Bait products are broadcast throughout a field to be picked up by ants during foraging. Repellents are applied directly to mounds to kill existing ants on contact. Amdro Pro Fire Ant Bait (hydramethylnon), Extinguish Professional Fire Ant Bait (methoprene), Esteem Ant Bait (pyriproxyfen), and Extinguish Plus (methoprene and hydramethylnon), are baits approved for use on grazing pastures or hay fields. Various permethrin products as well as Sevin (carbaryl) can be used as mound treatments. It is important to note that these are restricted use pesticides and can only be purchased by individuals or organizations with a pesticide applicators license.

Why are drones great at this?

Traditional methods of controlling fire ants, such as baiting and spreading pesticides, can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Drones, on the other hand, offer a more efficient and cost-effective solution. By using drones equipped with special cameras, farmers and pest control professionals can quickly locate and identify fire ant colonies. This information can then be used to target specific areas for treatment, reducing the amount of pesticides needed and minimizing the impact on the environment.

One example of this technology in action is a project by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the University of Arkansas. The team used drones to map fire ant colonies in a test area of about 1,000 acres. The data collected helped them identify the most heavily infested areas, which were then treated with a bait that contained a slow-acting pesticide. This method resulted in a significant reduction in the number of fire ants in the test area.

Another use of drones in fire ant control is using drones to deliver bait. Drone spreading of fire ant bait can be more cost-effective than traditional methods of application. Drones can cover a large area in a short amount of time, reducing the need for manual labor. This can lead to a reduction in labor costs, as well as a decrease in the amount of bait needed to control the fire ant population. Additionally, drones can be used to deliver bait directly to the fire ant colonies, reducing the need for broadcast baiting methods. This can help to minimize the impact on the environment and also minimize the amount of bait needed.

In addition to being more efficient, using drones for fire ant control can also be safer for the people involved. Pesticides can be hazardous, and working with them can pose a risk to human health. Drones can minimize this risk by allowing treatment to be done from a safe distance.

However, it's worth noting that the cost of drone technology and maintenance can be a significant investment. Additionally, the use of drones for fire ant control is still a relatively new technology, and the cost of the equipment and the training required to operate it can be a barrier for some farmers. Fortunately, at Aero Ag, we have the equipment and training to provide drone fire-ant remediation services directly to you!

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