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Digital Insect Trap

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Last Updated 17 April 2014

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Frequent and reliable monitoring of pest populations is one of the most critical components of integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Use of pheromone-baited insect traps for monitoring insect pest populations has been proven to be effective, however all the work involved in manually inspecting these traps make insect population monitoring also one of the most dreaded and neglected tasks in IPM. We address this critical issue by developing a low-cost electronic sensor system—integrated with a widely used pheromone-baited trap—that is capable of automatically counting the number of target insects captured by the trap. The system is equipped with wireless communication capability so the insect population data can be transmitted to growers in real-time, which will allow the growers to make timely decisions and take appropriate actions.

The initial concept of the digital trap envisioned integrating low-cost wireless cameras with standard plastic delta traps in order to detect and count the target insects captured by the sticky surface at the bottom of the trap. This quickly evolved to a new concept where infrared light detectors replace the cameras and are integrated with plastic bucket traps. To overcome limitations of the infrared detectors, a bio-impedance sensor was developed to detect target insects based on the variations of an electrical signal in the presence of the insect. In the first bio-impedance sensor based trap, the sensor was attached to a bucket-like enclosure, but the capture rate of that design was not satisfactory. The bucket-like trap was then replaced by a standard plastic delta trap, and the bio-impedance sensor was placed inside the delta hut. To achieve optimal electrical performance as well as mechanical robustness, several designs of bio-impedance sensor were evaluated in the field during the 2010-2012 growing seasons.

The reports generated by the different models of digital traps were initially delivered to the user through a serial connection cable, which was later replaced by a wireless link. Currently, multiple traps are capable of interacting to construct a large infrastructure-less wireless network that permits reports collected by traps over a large area to be delivered autonomously to a web server and displayed on a user-friendly online application.

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