Putting Traps to the Test

Abbey Taylor Pests, Top Posts

Photo courtesy of Dr. Ayanava Majumdar

Alabama Extension has been testing a new precision agriculture product called Z-Trap. Z-Trap is a tool to help with integrated pest management. Ayanava Majumdar, an Extension entomologist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, believes the mechanized trap can be a great tool for farmers. However, it does not come without its challenges.

As most vegetable growers know, vegetables are very prone to pest pressure, especially caterpillars. Majumdar says that because caterpillars are directly linked to moths, it is extremely important for growers to look out for the moths to determine how intense the caterpillar pressure is.

In Majumdar’s fields, he uses a variety of traps, including sticky wing pheromone traps. He says the pheromone traps are cheap and easily changeable in the field. However, these traps require a lot of time and labor. Someone must always be supervising the traps and be there to count the insects.

Z-Traps make the trapping process much less labor-intensive. The device has a collection jar attached to it, which collects the moths, zaps them and records the amount of hits it receives while deployed. Majumdar says it is a nice tool to get quick, automated data every night.  Majumdar adds that the collection jar is large, making it easier to monitor insects during outbreak.

Despite the many benefits of Z-Traps, Majumdar has also experienced some difficulties as well. The product is expensive because it is new. Also, it is tough to use the device in bad weather. Majumdar says in a storm, debris can fly into the collection jar of the trap, blocking the funnel where the insects go. Therefore, Majumdar suggests monitoring storms to carefully plan times to deploy the traps. He adds that getting rain in the collection jar can be a nuisance as well.

Majumdar has been testing Z-Traps with beet armyworms and fall armyworms. He has mostly seen success with these tests, saying he has captured almost double the number of moths compared to the pheromone traps. The ongoing study will enable Majumdar to conclude which trap is best to use in most production systems.

Hear Majumdar’s interview:

About the Author

Abbey Taylor

Editor of VSCNews magazine and farm broadcaster

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