Drones: Innovative Technology for Use in Precision Pest Management – PCT

Drones have made a sizeable impact on business since they became a mainstream, affordable tool for capturing videos and photos in hard-to-reach areas. The drone industry itself continues to grow.

Estimated by Forbes Magazine to be at least $52 billion by 2024, and that appears to be on the low side of projections, the drone business is in full swing and applies to almost every industry that has a segment outdoors.

For example, drones have dramatically changed how films are made, allowing magical shots from the sky to be made by any filmmaker who can rent a drone. Gone are the days of renting a helicopter to get those shots. In addition, drones can fly in areas helicopters never could, creating new shots and new angles never before possible.

Jake Williams, Inspect-All Services

In pest control, drones are incredibly useful for two reasons – location or imagery analysis as well as precision quality control. For example, following the tunnels and trails on major rural locations to track burrowing animals causing issues with crops or just landscapes can make a drone very helpful. Checking rooftop areas or simply getting a “birds-eye view” of a location with a lot of surrounding foliage can be assisted with drone technology too.

Jeffrey Weier of Sprague Pest Solutions hasn’t been using drones yet, but his firm is considering utilizing them as a new tool.

“We have not but we have thought and talked about using them. Drones would allow us to see areas like rooftops or ceiling areas for evidence of rodents,” Weier says. “They could allow us to find entry points for rodents and would be particularly useful for roof rats.”

As they become more usable in pest control, drone use can increase, Weier added. “A technician in a large warehouse, without access to lifts could effectively inspect the ceiling area for evidence of activity. Outdoors drones could be used to look for activity at night, when it is not safe to be on roofs, when rodents are most active.”

According to Rebecca Salas of Bug Bandit, which hasn’t used drones yet as a tool, they have promise to provide much support to technicians as they integrate more into the marketplace.

“The possibilities of drones playing a bigger role in the pest control world is very simple – This is a new solution to many issues that every pest control service provider encounters on a regular basis. Difficult jobs where technicians might not have complete access to an invasive pest: Drones could be the perfect alternative.

“Tricky jobs – I’m sure every pest control service provider/ technician has found themselves facing, such as: tight/enclosed, dark spaces no person is able to fit in or have the necessary valuable visual access to, or even helping with dangerous situations they can contribute – making infrastructure inspections safer.”

Perhaps drones will even become able to help technicians spread certain products on a more widespread basis, such as granules or even liquids based on weather conditions and on the size of the drone itself.

Drones are not without issue though, flying them requires skill and in most locations, regulatory approval.

Weier says there are concerns with drones, including “having the skills to operate one. Younger technicians may have this skill set. (Also) FAA regulations and local restrictions and privacy concerns.” All of these need to be considered when implementing drones as a regular part of a program.

Accuracy is a consideration that newcomers to drone usage will have to learn more about, Salas says.

“With any kind of technology, comes challenges. The argument of relying on technology, not being completely dependable is very accurate,” she added. “There’s a number of issues that could occur – failure to properly function, or not having the access to these technologies because of the expensive cost that’s put on these devices.”

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