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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345892

Research Project: Improved Biologically-Based Methods for Insect Pest Management of Crop Insect Pests

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research

Title: Towards user-friendly early detection acoustic devices and automated monitoring for Red Palm Weevil management

item Mankin, Richard

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2017
Publication Date: 1/19/2019
Citation: Mankin, R.W. 2019. Towards user-friendly early detection acoustic devices and automated monitoring for Red Palm Weevil management.In FAO 2019, Proceedings of the Scientific Consultation and High-Level Meeting on Red Palm Weevil Management, March 29-31, 2017. Rome, Italy. p.142-147.

Interpretive Summary: Early detection of hidden Red Palm Weevil (RPW) infestations in field environments is a difficult but important component of Red Palm Weevil management. Researchers at the USDA, ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, FL, have developed methods to use acoustic detection for RPW management in the Caribbean, Southern Europe, the Middle East, and other areas where RPW causes severe damage. Acoustic signal analyses have been developed that focus on distinguishing RPW sounds from the background noise in different field environments, assisting scouts in identifying which trees need protective treatments. The benefits of using acoustic methods are particularly helpful in areas where the trees are of high value or have historic significance.

Technical Abstract: Early detection of hidden RPW infestations in field environments is a difficult but important component of RPW management. Unfortunately there are few externally visible signs of early infestation, and scouts trying to survey and target them must carefully inspect the bases or crowns of palm trees to discover adult entry holes in individual trees. Larvae can be detected by acoustic methods, but with current technology, skilled persons must identify where to insert acoustic probes, and they must use complicated signal analyses to help distinguish RPW sounds from other insects and background noise. Each field location has somewhat different background noise, and it is best to measure general background noise spectral profiles, i.e., “background sound fingerprints,” in advance to optimize RPW identification. In addition, inspections must be done when it is quietest, usually early in the day, to optimize detectability. With the adoption of such measurement procedures, current technology has been successful in detecting RPW infestations in field tests in the Caribbean, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Experience gained from these studies is being applied towards development of user-friendly, low-cost detection devices. Recent increases in the computing power and decreases in the costs of microcontroller systems has generated considerable interest in their use for insect communication and mating disruption. In this report, we present examples of how combinations of microcontrollers with inexpensive microphone systems, or somewhat more expensive piezoelectric devices that are extremely sensitive to insect movement and feeding vibrations, can be used for auralization, storage, and digital signal processing of insect sounds in trees in field environments. Progress also is occurring in the development of Matlab and other software to automate and optimize the discrimination of insect sounds from background noise on microcontroller platforms. Further development of these hardware and software tools has potential to expand the applicability of early detection technology so that it not just useful for research tool but becomes a widely used tool for RPW pest management.