C-130 helps reduce mosquito population

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- A team of highly qualified Airmen took to the skies in various areas across Southern Miami-Dade County as a part of an aerial mosquito abatement program July 29-31 for a one-of-a-kind mission.

The aerial spray mission aims to improve working conditions and lower the risk of vector-borne illnesses to individuals who work and live at Homestead Air Reserve Base and the surrounding Miami-Dade County.

The mission is part of the Department of Defense's Innovative Readiness Training Program, which allows military units to meet critical training requirements while supporting local community needs.

This is the only large-area, fixed wing aerial spray mission in the entire DOD. It has a roll-on/roll-off Modular Aerial Spray System that is used to deliver insecticide, herbicide or oil dispersant products as needed by mission requirements.

A specially modified C-130 Hercules cargo plane from the Air Force Reserve Command's 910th Airlift Wing in Youngstown, Ohio, conducted the routine aerial spraying operation using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered pesticide Dibrom, also known as Naled, which is registered for use in Florida.

"The application rate is .5 ounces an acre, so half a shot glass on a football field," said Lt. Col. Drew Tancer, flight commander for 910th Airlift Wing.

The team is composed of a highly trained air crew, aerial spray operators and maintainers who are conscious of protecting the environment during their missions. They work with the community to ensure avoidance of critical habitat areas and national parks.

On each mission, an experienced and qualified entomologist is on the aircraft. Entomologists are scientists who study insects and their relationships to the environment, humans, and other organisms.

Mosquitos in the egg or larva stage will not be affected. Due to the spray's quick dispersal and short half-life, it only kills adult mosquitos.

"Since it is an aerial spray, most mosquitoes have to be in the air to contact the material, that is why we do it so close to evening when mosquito populations are coming out of their hiding spaces" said Lt. Col. Karl Haagsma, entomologist for 910th Airlift Wing.

While weather has impacted the aerial spray operations, the crew is scheduled to return to the Miami-Dade area to help with mosquito abatement later in the year.

Concerned citizens should contact the Miami-Dade County at 311. They may also contact the 482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at (786) 415-7330 or email, 482FW.PA@us.af.mil.