Mosquito
Mosquitoes carry many diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Drones will soon be used in the battle against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases like Zika. In an experiment to try and crowd out mosquito populations by using sterile male insects that cannot reproduce, researchers are hoping to bring down their reproduction in Latin America.

Large swarms of mosquitoes can be dropped from drones, strategically crowding out the other males. When female mosquitoes mate with them, they will not reproduce, eventually bringing down their population, in the process reducing diseases that they spread, the BBC reports.

Mosquitoes, however, do not always live in easily accessible spots, so specialised drones can be used. The drones will be developed by WeRobotics and the experiment will be conducted in 2018.

"Mosquitoes carry many diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus. It makes them one of the biggest animal killers worldwide," Adam Klaptocz, WeRobotics co-founder, told the BBC.

While there are a number of methods like insecticides and pesticides that can be used to cull mosquitoes, they have major downsides. They are not environmentally friendly and have to be sprayed constantly to keep mosquito populations down.

Using sterile mosquitoes, however, only requires male insects to go through a bit of radiation in a lab and that renders them infertile.

Apart from mosquitoes, this method of releasing sterile males to control insect populations has worked with several species, said Klaptocz. The sterile males have to be spread out over a large area and cannot be dumped in one place. Scientists normally do this by carrying them in backpacks and releasing them at strategic points.

To keep the thousands of insects from getting wounded or dying when transported, they are cooled down to between 4 and 8 degrees, which puts them in a sleep-like state. When it is time to deploy, the mosquitoes are woken up by being dropped through a rotating platform and on to a holding chamber where they wake up and then fly into the wild.

The robot-makers were reportedly approached by a number of aid organisations looking for a solution to reach difficult areas because a lot of areas that are infested by mosquitoes are also regions where proper roads don't exist.

Malaria
Mosquitoes are one of the biggest animal killers worldwide REUTERS/Jim Gathany/CDC