Kamov helicopter is the latest weapon in the war against mosquitoes in Armação de Pêra

For great ills, great remedies! If all the measures already taken have still not been able to deal with the mosquitoes that [...]

For great ills, great remedies! If all the measures already taken have still not managed to deal with the mosquitoes that have invaded the nascent area of ​​Armação de Pêra in recent weeks, then innovative solutions must be considered.

This is what the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the Municipality of Silves and the company hired by APA to try to end the plague, Pestox, did. And that was how this afternoon, with the help of the National Civil Protection Authority, a new measure was being tested: the use of the heavy Kamov helicopter parked in Loulé to help combat… mosquitoes.

The heavy helicopter arrived in the Alcantarilha river valley at 15:18 pm and started by making a first pass over the flooded areas at medium altitude, to scare away the flocks of birds, namely the rare black ibis, which use the area as refuge and food.

Then, for an hour, the Kamov hovered at low altitude, some five to ten meters above the ground, to contribute to killing the mosquitoes that had become a pest with the agitation in the waters and vegetation caused by its double propellers.

The method is completely innovative and, at least in Portugal, it had never been tried, so there is a lot of faith in this work by Kamov.

Rogério Pinto, mayor of Silves, who accompanied the helicopter operation at the site, explained to Sul Informação that it is "a method that, through the combination of strong winds caused by the force of the device's blades and the resulting vortex of water, will contribute to the destruction of the population of adult mosquitoes and eggs existing in this area".

Whether the method will work or not, only tonight and in the next few days will be seen. In any case, it was possible to see that when the Kamov flew over the wetlands at low altitude, a vortex of water would rise, which the technicians now hope will help to kill the larvae and the annoying adult insects.

"With the huge blades of these helicopters, which are displacing water and vegetation, creating a great deal of turbulence, we hope that this can help to destroy adult mosquito habitat, larva habitat, and kill a lot of adults", explained Alexandre Vinhas, Pestox technician.


A "quite bizarre" idea that could work


Despite the president of the Chamber Rogério Pinto saying that this idea, which he himself admits he considered at first "quite bizarre", came from the Pestox company, the company's engineer guarantees that it is "an idea launched by a person from Camera that we validated».

And everything indicates that this is a completely innovative measure. "It may have been used on a small scale in other places, but not to an extent like this", guaranteed Alexandre Vinhas in statements to Sul Informação.

Despite the effects that the technicians and mayors hope will be effective, the truth is that tonight it is not known if the complaints will diminish or even if they will not move to other areas. "This does not prevent collateral damage, with people from other places complaining, if the surviving mosquitoes flee there, but tomorrow there will be no problem", assures, hopefully, the Pestox technician.

Once the most obvious solutions had been exhausted, only extraordinary measures remained. «With this sun, dew, temperatures, it has been very difficult to control this pest. We did some work here, in 48 hours everything was very good, but after that time, it seemed that we hadn't done anything», lamented Alexandre Vinhas.

So what's the solution? "The solution? There is no standing water!», guarantees the technician. Is that, this year, everything that could go wrong to give rise to the problem, happened. Upstream of the stream, in the Lagoa area, the rice fields did not carry out anti-mosquito treatments and then dumped the water, full of larvae, into the water course, while the sewage treatment plants (WWTP) and even the water treatment plant (ETA) performed abnormal discharges. The result is that, after a very rainy year, the marshes and marshes in the lower part of the Alcantarilha stream, next to Armação beach, did not dry out, quite the contrary. The heat, dew and humidity of the night all helped to create this pest.

For this reason, because there was a lot going wrong, involving many entities, the mayor of Silves wants that, right after the bathing season, «the entities get together, to discuss the measures to be applied so that this situation does not return. to be repeated'.


Other ideas under discussion have "green costs"


Rogério Pinto, who accompanied the intervention of the Kamov helicopter at the site, along with two other councilors and technicians from the Municipal Civil Protection, explained to the Sul Informação that “every year, the Silves Chamber, in accordance with indications from the ARS [Regional Health Administration], disinfects several points, including here the Armação de Pêra area, where it is suspected that there may be mosquito larvae . We use a larvicide, which kills the larvae. This year we did the same thing».

But “what happened this year is that there are millions of larvae in this place. And we have already gone from one to three interventions. Now we have the intervention of a company, for a week now, Pestox, which is a specialist in the area».

The company, contracted by the Portuguese Environment Agency, is “disinfesting the larvae in the most contaminated area, along the banks of the river closest to the sea. They have also applied insecticide three times to kill adult mosquitoes».

In addition, and because the stream receives two tributaries, one on the Lagoa side, the other on the Silves side, «we built a dam in the Amendoeira Golfe area, so that there is no more water to flow here, to the Armação de Pear”, while the larvicide “continues to be applied every day”.

Even with these extraordinary measures, the eastern part of Armação de Pêra (only about a quarter of the beach) continues to be attacked by clouds of mosquitoes, which affect in particular the users of the Camping Park and customers of the Búzio restaurant, as well as who is in the apartments closest to the auction.

Therefore, the president of the Chamber emphasizes, new solutions had to be thought of. “Three more alternatives were thought of, but they had very high risks, namely ecological ones. One of those alternatives was to set this on fire, controlled fire. There was also talk of flying a light aircraft to spread the insecticide, but as it is a residential and tourist area, it involved many dangers, even for health. Another solution was to open the river to the sea, but the same thing that happened in Quarteira would happen, with forbidden beaches and we don't know for how many days. We have around 100 people here and that would be a catastrophe».

And it was then that someone came up with the idea of ​​using the heavy Kamov helicopter. “At first I thought it was a rather bizarre idea”, confesses the mayor. "But we evaluated and thought we could try." Whether or not the method will work will soon be seen in the next few days.

Anyway, next Friday, the contracted company will return to insecticide applications. «Until the mosquito plague is exterminated, you cannot lay down your arms», guarantees Rogério Pinto.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues/Sul Informação