2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1, Page #31[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tools To Battle Insects
The InsectaZooka was developed as a tool for researchers to collect insects for health and crop damage studies. But the InsectaZooka can work for eliminating insects as well. For example, it could vacuum flies out of barn stalls, and the military has looked at it as a way to suck mosquitoes out of tents or other enclosures.
The key to its portability is the small brushless motor (used to power “jet” engines in model aircraft) with variable speed for the perfect suction. Combined with lightweight pvc tubing with a screen-bottomed collection cup at the end, it’s a portable, powerful vacuum. Users adjust the settings for the type of insects they’re collecting.
It sells for $359.
Robo-Tick, a tick-killing robot, has also caught the attention of military researchers who are working on ways to eliminate ticks that cause Lyme disease and other serious diseases.
Robo-Tick begins a crucial research stage this year by collaborators at Virginia Military Institute and Old Dominion University.
Engineers Jim Squire, Dave Livingstone and Jay Sullivan started brainstorming after discovering a couple of ticks on Squire’s son. A child’s toy tank got them thinking about a way to eliminate ticks from an area.
“We thought we could build a robot to pick ticks up off the grass,” Squire says. “Dan Sonenshine (biologist) said we were doing it wrong. You have to make the ticks go after it. Make it like a living mammal and kill them without doing any work.”
Working with others, they devised a carbon dioxide dispensing tube with embedded wire to send out an electromagnetic wave. Set up around a perimeter the carbon dioxide mimics a living creature and attracts the ticks to that area. Then the robot follows the magnetic wave. While most insects jump away, the motion from the vibration and increased temperature from friction of the denim the robot drags attracts ticks. They jump on the denim, which is coated with permethrin, and with only brief contact the ticks die.
“Virtually no permethrin is left in the environment, except for the trace amounts leached from the skirt and in the dead tick bodies,” according to Squire’s research site.
The engineers are on their third generation Robo-Tick and plan to do a final set of trials this spring. The hope is that once a perimeter is cleared of ticks, it will remain clear for the longer term.
People in pest control businesses are interested as are owners of competition horses, who are having problems with horses contracting Lyme disease.
“We’ve had inquiries from around the world,” Livingstone says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, InsectaZooka, BioQuip Products, 2321 Gladwick St., Rancho Dominguez, Calif. 90220 (ph 310 667-8800; www.bioquip.com) or James Squire, Robo-Tick, Virginia Military Institute, 620 Nichols Engineering Hall, Lexington, Va. 24450 (ph 540 464-7548; www.jimsquire.com under “research”)
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