Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2009
Publication Date: 8/1/2009
Citation: Mankin, R.W., Samson, P.R., Chandler, K.J. 2009. Acoustic detection of Melolonthine larvae in Australian sugarcane. Journal of Economic Entomology. 102:1523-1535. Interpretive Summary: Insects that live underground or in plants are often difficult to find and recognize. As a result, needed controls may not be applied or needless ones applied as insurance. Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, Gainesville, FL, and BSES Limited of Australia collected and analyzed sounds produced by greyback canegrubs and Childers canegrubs, the most economically damaging pests of sugarcane in Australia. Distinctive scraping sounds were detected that help distinguish these insects from background noises and nonpest insects. These results may be helpful in development of new methods to identify pest insects in the presence of high background noise and other non-pest insects.
Technical Abstract: Decision support systems have been developed for risk analysis and control of root-feeding white grub pests in Queensland sugarcane, based partly on manual inspection of cane soil samples. Acoustic technology was considered as a potential alternative to this laborious procedure. Field surveys were conducted at sites near Mackay, where Dermolepida albohirtum (Waterhouse) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Melolonthinae) is a major pest, and at sites near Bundaberg, where Antitrogus parvulus Britton (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae; Melolonthinae) is a major pest. Computer analyses were developed to identify distinctive scrapes and other sounds produced by D. albohirtum and Antitrogus species, and to distinguish them from sounds of non-damaging white grubs (Rutelinae, Dynastinae), as well as from sounds produced by sugarcane leaves or stalks tapping against each other in light wind. Procedures were considered for conducting rapid surveys of white grub pest populations in sugarcane fields. With such procedures, if samples are collected and numbers of white grubs assessed only when distinctive white-grub scrapes or other sounds are detected during acoustic surveys, the time needed for assessment of a sample decreases from ca. 10-12 min to ca. 4-5 min at quiet sampling sites.