EGPIC Means No Free Lunch for Insect PestsBy
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.