NAPLES, FL (October 20, 2022) – As part of its long-term plan to modernize its aerial fleet, the Collier Mosquito Control District’s (District) fleet now includes a Twin Otter fixed-wing and a second Bell 407 helicopter. They are conducting aerial treatment missions for the control of both larval and adult mosquitoes. The District is preparing for boundary expansion to serve a growing community, and these ships bring increased capacity and reliability as they round out the fleet to include three airplanes and four helicopters.
Since the early 1990’s, the District’s fleet included three Shorts Brothers Skyvans and five MD 500 (D-model) helicopters. The District recently sold three of its MD helicopters and one of its Skyvans as part of its plan to modernize the fleet. Its plan to replace Skyvans with Twin Otter turboprops and adding Bell 407’s to the helicopter fleet is fully underway. The two remaining MD helicopters have been fully restored to like-new condition.
“The Skyvans are reliable, sturdy ships perfectly suited for aerial applications, however it’s becoming more and more difficult to quickly obtain necessary parts for these ships, which are no longer in production,” says District Executive Director Patrick Linn. “Our long-term plan – which is supported by our five-member Board of Commissioners – is to begin replacing them with ships that can do the job, and readily obtain parts for them when needed.”
The new Bell 407 helicopter is the second one purchased since 2018, and is specifically outfitted to apply an organic mosquito control material called Merus 3.0. The larger size of the Bell 407 allows it to carry more material than the small MD 500 helicopters. Fewer return trips to reload materials makes it a more economical and efficient addition to the fleet. Further, the night vision compatible flight deck of the new Bell significantly improves safety of flight in nighttime operations.
The first Bell 407 added to the District’s fleet in 2018 is fitted with equipment to apply granules of larval control material to swampy areas that are known to produce mosquitoes. It typically applies materials made with Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti), which is a biological bacterium found in soils. It only affects the larvae of mosquitoes, blackflies, and fungus gnats. It has no toxicity to people and can be used for pest control in organic farming operations.