The Newest Weapon In The War Against Ticks Is A Robot

Virginia Military Institute professors have designed a rover that attracts and kills ticks as it crosses an area. Tests show a kill rate of between 75 and 100 percent.

What's the Latest Development?

A team of professors at the Virginia Military Institute have taken on the pest control challenge by creating a tick-killing robot rover. The four-wheeled device has a cloth attached to its rear that's treated with an insecticide, and moves across an area by following a pair of tubes, one of which releases carbon dioxide. Drawn by the gas, the ticks attach themselves to the cloth, where they die. Tests done last month showed that the rover killed all, or nearly all, of the ticks it encountered. They were so successful that Old Dominion University professor Holly Gaff originally thought there was a flaw in the testing method.

What's the Big Idea?

Ticks are just one of many insect nuisances that come with summer, and they carry diseases that can be dangerous to humans and other animals. Project leader Col. Jim Squire says that the only thing that works better than the robot rover is insecticide spray, which comes with its own hazards; their device is safe to use around children and plants. Unfortunately it will be a while before the rover makes it to the commercial market, as the team spends the next academic year improving the design and performing more tests.

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