VMI engineers develop rover to kill ticks - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

VMI engineers develop rover to kill ticks

Posted: Updated:
LEXINGTON, VA -

Tick Biologist Holly Gaff isn't playing with a toy robot. It's a third generation rover cadets and engineering professors at the Virginia Military Institute created to kill ticks. "I was shocked," Gaff said after putting the rover to the test. "After the first week I had to go back to my experimental design because I found that within one hour of treatment it reduced the tick population to zero for about 18 to 24 hours."

Here's how it works: the rover moves along two tubes stretched out over a specific area representing the outline of a yard. the black one emits carbon dioxide. Once it settles, the ticks --attracted to the carbon dioxide-- come running.

Then comes rover. Its movement continues to attract the ticks. "They're in the general area from the Carbon Dioxide and then when the cloth passes over them and they tend to grab onto anything that passes on top of them," Gaff explained.

Within an hour she says, the ticks die. The cloth dragging behind the rover is treated with a common insecticide. "If you just put permethrin on a drag cloth it leaves virtually no permethrin in the environment so it's child safe and EPA safe," said VMI Engineer James Squire who is heading the project.

He says the rover could change the pest control industry. "Their business model is primarily to use tanks of toxic chemicals strapped to the backs of employees and spray."

Squires say tests showed in the worst trial showed a reduction in tick densities of 75-90%. The best completely removed the tick population," he says. Squire is working to market the technology with an entrepreneur at Wake Forest.

Right now; however, the rover is not a permanent solution. "This is a way to protect your backyard so your children can play with less encounter with ticks or if you're having a party in your backyard-- kind of like mosquitoes where you can spray for an hour without having mosquitoes-- it's kind of the same concept." For now, it's temporary relief until more tests are done to see how soon ticks might return.

Squire says pest control companies don't have a business model to support robotics but expects small businesses could buy and maintain them.

  • Virginia Settles ABC Lawsuit

    Virginia Settles ABC Lawsuit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:09 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:09:02 GMT
    Attorney General Mark Herring says the Commonwealth has reached a settlement with Elizabeth Daly in her $40 million lawsuit against several agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
    Attorney General Mark Herring says the Commonwealth has reached a settlement with Elizabeth Daly in her $40 million lawsuit against several agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:31 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:31:25 GMT
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
  • Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-07-30 04:41:44 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.