What good are ticks? The transmit awful diseases including babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and tick paralysis and the critters have been associated with encephalitis. (The list goes on here.) And warmer temps aren’t helping. Insects are cold-blooded, so hot weather makes them more active.
But listen up, ticks. Researchers at the Virginia Military Institute have your number. They’ve built a small rover that mimics a live host to draw you from your hiding places and kill you on contact.
The robotic exterminator follows a pair of carbon-dioxide-emitting tubes that have been extended over a lawn. Drawn to the CO2, ticks move toward the tubes. The rover, meanwhile, drives over the lawn dragging a cloth behind it, which the ticks grab onto. But alas, the cloth is drenched in a common insecticide and the ticks die.
Recent tests showed that this method of extermination killed between 75 to 100 percent of the ticks in the area. Chemical spray is the next best thing, but because it can be harmful to pets and children, the robotic method is more environmentally friendly.
The team will spend the next year improving the design of their tick terminator as well as studying how long it takes ticks to repopulate a swept area. I suspect we’ll be seeing more from this team.
Credit: Virginia Military Institute