Better understanding of insects will lead to better traps for glasshouse crops

Traps for catching insect pests in greenhouses and in the field "are not as effective as they should be", due to the way they see colours, patterns and objects, according to researchers.

The European tarnished plant bug - Image: BJ Schoenemakers (CC 1.0)
The European tarnished plant bug - Image: BJ Schoenemakers (CC 1.0)

"There is currently very little fundamental research being conducted into the effectiveness of trap systems," according to Wageningen University & Research (WUR) entomologist Rob van Tol.

"What we do know mainly stems from comparative research: we see that a given system captures more bugs than another due to different circumstances. But if we look at the effectiveness, usually only 10 to 15% or even fewer of the insects present actually land in a trap.

"Many insects do get lured to the trap with scents, but change course at the last minute. This can be compared to a runway without proper markings, where the pilot cannot perceive depth and takes off again."

The international research project "Are more visible traps more effective?" will attempt to answer the question of how insects detect objects. Van Tol explains: "An insect eye is composed of many separate tiny lenses, each of which has its own limited scope. We want to assess how bugs see and what they see.

"Next we can look at how they use their visual ability to orient themselves and decide whether or not to land on an object. If we know how an insect perceives differences as it approaches an object, we can develop models for effective trap systems."

The research is focussing on two damaging crop pests, the European tarnished plant bug (Lygus rugulipennis), a serious pest of strawberries in particular, and Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), a pest of a wide range of edible and ornamental crops.

"Better traps on the market would ensure better monitoring but also more insects will get contaminated with insecticidal fungi in a so-called Lure & Infect strategy," Van Tol added.

"We can also simply trap insects en masse and render them harmless, effectively culling them and leaving much smaller numbers to affect the crop. This means far fewer chemicals would be needed to combat the pests."

WUR of the Netherlands is partnering with New Zealand's Lincoln University and Lund University, Sweden, on the project, with industry body LTO Glaskracht and biocontrols supplier Koppert among co-financiers.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Pest and disease management - Powdery mildew in field crops

Pest and disease management - Powdery mildew in field crops

Powdery mildew in field crops, by Professor Geoffrey Dixon

Can a labour crisis be averted in the UK berry industry?

Can a labour crisis be averted in the UK berry industry?

Failure to secure sufficient supply of seasonal labour would not only cripple Britain's thriving soft-fruit industry but would hit affordability and availability of a healthy everyday food, according to a report by agricultural consultancy Andersons Midlands for industry body British Summer Fruits (BSF).

How will a reduced European apple harvest impact on UK growers?

How will a reduced European apple harvest impact on UK growers?

British top fruit growers concerned about the impact of this season's late frost can take some comfort from the situation on the Continent, where according to analysts, damage to tree fruit is at least as bad.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here