Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol ResearchTitle: Augmented awareness
Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/18/2017
Publication Date: 8/1/2017
Citation: Mankin, R.W. 2017. Augmented awareness. Wildlife Australia Magazine. 54(4):33.
Interpretive Summary: For many years, researchers have been using sensors that detect visual and electromagnetic energy, sound, texture, odor and taste to explore areas that are hidden from our natural senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Scientists at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida, have experience in constructing and developing extra-sensitive acoustic detection methods for insect detection and control. A personal accounting of a field study that helped sugarcane growers in Queensland, Australia, to locate larvae of the greyback cane grub and other insects infesting the roots of sugarcane was presented in Wildlife Australia magazine. Additionally, the article considers how future enhancements to sensors may benefit agriculture and elaborates on opportunities for persons with disabilities to function and contribute effectively in modern society.
Technical Abstract: The sounds insects make as they move and feed can be amplified 100–1000x by vibration sensor systems, which makes them easily detectable with headphones. In 2008, I visited Mackay and Bundaberg in Queensland to search for greyback canegrub (Dermolepida albohirtum) and other insect pests in sugarcane fields. It is easier to poke a sensor into the ground and listen to grubs chewing roots than to dig up a set of cane stools and shake off the dirt to check whether root systems are infested, particularly because populations are clustered together near where the mother laid her eggs. You can spend a lot of time digging holes and filling them in again later. Unsurprisingly, farmers prefer to use the headphones! Modern sensor technology is rapidly improving, driving down the costs of using acoustic systems.