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For Insects, New Device is KISS of DeathBy Linda McGraw
April 3, 1998
Creative ideas don't always pop up only during working hours, as James Coppedge discovered in the spring of 1996. The Agricultural Research Service entomologist was blowing leaves in his yard in College Station, Texas, when he had an idea: Why not turn the leaf blower into an insect collector?
The result, put in motion the following Monday at the ARS Areawide Pest Management Research Unit at College Station, was the keep-it-simple sampler (KISS). ARS agricultural engineer Kenneth R. Beerwinkle, also at College Station, designed and assembled the portable insect sampler from an engine-driven leaf blower.
The KISS simplifies a long, tedious job. Farmers and crop consultants spend hours counting insects in cotton, soybeans, corn, and other row crops. Usually they sample manually with nets or by looking at individual plants. Their goal: getting a handle on the numbers of pest and beneficial insects present in their fields.
The KISS generates 150-mph winds that blows insects off crops into a net attached to the nozzle. ARS field tests showed "KISSing" is 10 times more efficient than hand-collecting boll weevils in early-season cotton. Boll weevils cause $300 million in cotton losses each year.
The researchers collected a wide variety of insects from different crops and wild host plants. The KISS system has been used to collect pepper weevils from pepper plants, corn rootworm adults from sorghum and soybeans, and cotton fleahoppers from wild plants.
Most insects collected with the KISS are undamaged. The researchers believe the KISS system could be used by home gardeners to collect beneficial insects from wild host plants and transfer them to their gardens.
KISSing has boosted business for a College Station metal fabricating shop owner. Richard Schiller makes the frames for do-it-yourselfers to build their own KISS. All they add is a sweep net and the leaf blower. By last summer, Schiller had 40 orders for the frames from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota and Texas. One order came in from Argentina.