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VMI builds robotic tick killer

By Frankie Jupiter, fjupiter@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 16 2013 06:13:54 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2013 07:29:58 PM EDT

Engineers are using a robot device to get rid of the bugs.

LEXINGTON, Va. -

Engineers at Virginia Military Institute have found a way to kill ticks without using spray type pesticide.
The robotic device equipped with a battery follows a track. Along the track is a tube that diffuses carbon dioxide, which attracts ticks from across a yard, onto a piece a cloth.

“They hug the cloth and they slowly try to make their way to the top of it, as they are crawling they absorb the permethrin,” said Jim Squire, professor of electrical engineering at VMI.

Permethrin is commonly found in insect repellents and other insecticides which could be harmful to humans. The contact with the cloth is usually enough to kill the ticks.

“The secret sauce about this particular project is that today, your choices are to take chemicals and to spray them around your yard and there is a residual effect to that,” said Elizabeth Baker, assistant professor Wake Forest University.

The effects could leave dangerous chemicals in your yard, leaving your children and pets exposed.

“I think it's really critical that we are trying to stem tick-born disease; people getting sick form Lyme and West Nile from all of these diseases is really a chronic problem here in the United States,” said Baker

This is the third phase of the prototype and engineers have been working on the device for three years.
Recent test showed that the lawn treatment kills 90% to 100% of tick in a test area.

There are more tests to be done, but creators are confident the end result will be successful.