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Sounding Out Insects

April 21, 2011

An automatic insect detection system that uses a variety of technologies could help monitor insect infestations.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Automatic pest detection…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

SFX: (Bedbugs)

The sound you hear is that made by the much despised bedbug. But by combining data from microphones as well as optical and vibrational sensors, USDA entomologist Richard Mankin is teaching computers to automatically identify the types of insects wreaking havoc in our homes and businesses.

RICHARD MANKIN (USDA):

All this information is sent to the computer simultaneously from all the sensors and the program that I wrote looks at all that and decides what kind of insect it is.

HIRSHON:

He says the system could be placed in hotels to determine areas of bedbug infestation, or in grain storage warehouses, where damaging insects like these rice flour beetles lurk.

SFX: (Rice flour beetles)

HIRSHON:

The information could then be used to eradicate the pests. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.