New Technology for Detection of Hidden Insect Infestations in Packaged Goods
Mentor: Richard Mankin
Objective: My goal this summer was to determine whether the Termatrac, a termite detection device, could detect stored product pests. I observed that the Termatrac successfully detects small numbers of sawtoothed grain beetles in boxes if the boxes are tested in multiple positions so that the instrument is able to catch activity wherever it occurs.
Abstract: One of the greatest needs in the field of Postharvest and Bioregulation is to be able to detect stored product pest without destroying the manufacturer’s product and ensuring a quality product for the consumer. In my experiment, I infested boxes of Jiffy Mix and Bisquick with the sawtoothed grain beetle. I put 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 50, or 100 beetles in each box. The boxes with zero beetles were used as a control. I then monitored the boxes with the Termatrac and recorded activity five times each day for ten days. The Termatrac operates by sending out a microwave radar signal and detecting reflections from objects in a narrow field of view, essentially a plane about 10-cm thick, extending about 50 cm in front of the instrument, depending on how rapidly the material attenuates the radar. The boxes were turned in many different positions, testing different planes through each box, to catch insect movement. Activity was noted on a 4-category scale as no activity, low, medium, and high activity. On average, boxes with sawtoothed grain beetle had medium or high activity. The boxes with zero beetles all had no activity.
ARS Summer Intern Isaiah Branton hangs a sticky ball trap next to a UV light in a test where the attractiveness of UV light to female medflies is being studied. Isaiah is participating in a project to create a trap that combines acoustic and olfactory cues to selectively attract female medflies.
ARS Summer Intern Isaiah Branton examines a box of Bisquick that has been artificially infested with sawtoothed grain beetles. He is detecting hidden infestations of insects in packaged goods using the Termatrac (yellow instrument at lower right), a device that uses microwave technology to detect movement.