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EGPIC Means No Free Lunch for Insect Pests / September 18, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Entomologist Nancy Epsky and electrical engineer Dennis Shuman.

EGPIC Means No Free Lunch for Insect Pests

By Tara Weaver
September 18, 1998

Stored grains, fruits, nuts and other foods are a smorgasbord for hungry rice weevils, sawtoothed grain beetles and other insects. But the free lunch for these pests may soon be over, thanks to a high-tech insect monitoring system that exposes them as they munch inside grain bins.

Electrical engineer Dennis Shuman at the Agricultural Research Service developed this new system called the Electronic Grain Probe Insect Counter (EGPIC). Shuman is based at ARS' Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla. ARS is the chief scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

EGPIC is the latest improvement in technology that monitors insects in stored grain. It generates an infrared beam that senses insects and quickly, accurately and economically records and time-stamps when they drop through a probe trap. That's better than current probes that languish in grain bins until an inspector manually removes and visually inspects them.

EGPIC sensors transmit insect counts back to a central computer via SMARTS, a data transmission network for large-scale monitoring with up to one million probes. ARS has applied for a patent on SMARTS.

Insect infestations result in millions of dollars in annual stored-product losses and fumigation costs. Shuman says by accurately estimating the distribution of an insect population, companies can target heavily concentrated insect areas, and may not have to treat the entire grain bin.

An in-depth article on this research appears in the September issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:

Scientific contact: Dennis Shuman, ARS Post Harvest and Bioregulation Research Unit, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Fla., phone (352) 374-5737, fax (352) 374-5781,

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