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Computers join war on fruit fly pest
Researchers in Taiwan say they’re using computers to battle the oriental fruit fly, an insect pest that can cause crop losses in the billions of dollars.
The oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, is known to infest 230 crop species, with the larvae that hatch in the fruits causing them to rot.
“They are one of the world’s worst fruit and vegetable pests because of their rapid breeding, broad range of host plants and invasive abilities,” Gary Steck, an entomologist at Florida’s Department of Agriculture, told NewScientist.com
Now researchers in Taiwan say computers can be a weapon against the pest.
In Taiwan, fruit fly populations are monitored using traps containing chemical designed to lure the insects in.
The traps are normally checked manually every 10 days, but researchers at the at the National Taiwan University placed infrared beams in the traps that, when broken, show an oriental fruit fly has entered.
The data is sent via radio to a local station every 30 minutes, allowing real-time measurements of the population, and computer algorithms analyze the data arriving to predict when the local fruit fly population might explode.
If that appears imminent, the system can automatically send text messages to authorities with the time, location and severity of the potential outbreak.
Such warnings can allow authorities to quickly respond to the outbreak by using insecticides , the researchers said.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International