Flights Combat Mosquitos Through Use Of MASS
An Air Force Reserve C-130 crew recently sprayed insecticide in
southern Louisiana to combat insect infestation seen in the
aftermath of last month's hurricanes, the squadron's commander said
The 757th Airlift Squadron responded to a request from Louisiana
Gov. Bobby Jindal through the Federal Emergency Management Agency
to spray and control the growing mosquito and fly population in the
aftermaths of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Air Force Lt. Col. John
Williams said during a teleconference with bloggers.
"It's no secret that controlling the mosquito populations is
very important, especially in the South, in the aftermath of the
hurricanes," Williams explained. "They are disease carriers that
can transmit diseases like the West Nile virus and various forms of
Aerial spray operations started in World War II, when more
soldiers were dying of malaria and other insect-transmitted
diseases than were being killed in combat, said Air Force Maj. Karl
Haagsma, an entomologist attached to the 757th Airlift Squadron.
Since then, state governments have called for aerial spraying to
deal with insects after tropical storms and hurricanes.
"The largest-scale one that we did was after [hurricanes]
Katrina and Rita three years ago, and we ... sprayed 2.88 million
acres, and that was in Louisiana and Texas," Haagsma said.
While the Modular Aerial Spray System, or MASS, is capable of
various missions, it is predominantly used for mosquitoes, said Air
Force Senior Master Sgt. John Daniels with the 910th Aerial Spray
"We're spraying at a half ounce per acre, and sometimes when you
get heavier populations of mosquitoes, we will increase to almost
three quarters of an ounce per acre," Daniels said.
"With one aircraft, we can apply approximately 930 acres per
minute, so you can see that we can cover a lot of an area in a very
short period of time," Williams said.
Even though the squadron's primary mission is for troop
protection against insects, Haagsma said, the unit also can apply
herbicide, spray oil dispersants and perform decontamination
"You hate to see any kind of disaster hit anyone," Williams
said. "But we do maintain the capability, and we're ready to deploy
as soon as needed to provide relief to those particular areas."
(Aero-News thanks Navy Seaman William Selby, with the New
Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity)