Counting and Identifying Insects Hits Market
By Jim Core
July 11, 2003
The world's first automated insect
monitoring system has been enhanced and incorporated into a product hitting the
market recently in limited release and scheduled for wide-scale availability by
The Electronic Grain Probe Insect Counter (EGPIC) was patented in 1997 by
the Agricultural Research Service, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency. It was a major improvement over grain probe traps
used to detect insect infestations in grain bins. That's because it used
infrared beam sensors to quickly and accurately record the number of insects,
and the time of day, as they dropped through the probe trap.
EGPIC was designed to provide rapid and safe feedback on insect activity in
the bin as it is actually happening. With this tool, managers could determine
insect population densities in stored products without going into grain bins.
Dennis Shuman, a research electrical engineer at the ARS Postharvest and
Bioregulation Research Unit at the Center
for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla.,
invented EGPIC with ARS colleagues.
EGPIC was jointly refined--to include species identification
capabilities--with a Canadian company called
OPIsystems, Inc. ARS filed a second
patent and licensed the technology to OPI. The enhanced EGPIC system was
integrated into the company's existing stored-product management system and
renamed the StorMax Insector
by OPI. The easy-to-use system allows companies to use insecticides and
nontoxic alternatives only when needed, based on monitoring, rather than
routinely scheduling preventive fumigations.
With the revised system, a StorMax Insector is vertically inserted into a
storage bin. Insects climb into the probe via one of many slanted, ramp-like
openings designed to keep grains from inadvertently entering and causing insect
The amount of light blocked by an insect falling through two infrared beams
determines how large a signal is generated, which is interpreted by the system
to identify the insect species. Knowing the species helps managers use incoming
insect counts, combined with knowledge of the species' behavior and damage
potential, to make control decisions, according to Shuman.
Read more about this research in the July issue of Agricultural Research