Enhancing the monitoring and trapping of protected crop pests by incorporating LED technology into existing traps
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Management of pest species is ordinarily required in the production of protected crops. Integrated pest management (IPM) is commonly used when controlling insects. The European Union Sustainable Use Directives states that "integrated pest management’ means careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment. ‘Integrated pest management’ emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.” Effectively monitoring pests is a key component of IPM, with decisions to use biological control agents (BCA) and insecticides often based on the presence of pests in traps. A commonly used monitoring tool is the sticky trap; these traps are coloured and rely primarily on their visual attractiveness to the pest. The capture efficiency of sticky traps can potentially be increased with the addition of light emitting diodes (LEDs). The objective of this project was to use LEDs to enhance the efficacy of yellow sticky traps for trapping a range of insect pests, to enable more effective timing of pest management by optimising pest monitoring. The addition of LEDs may also enable more effective mass trapping via yellow sticky traps, and minimize the trapping of beneficial insects. Comparisons between standard yellow sticky traps and those equipped with green (540 nm) or blue (480 nm) LEDs were carried out at four commercial growing facilities. Green (540 nm) LED equipped traps were compared with standard yellow traps in a mass release of the biological control agent Encarsia formosa Gahan (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae), to determine if there are negative consequences to the addition of green (540 nm) LEDs when using this biological control agent. Relative spectral preferences of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande (Thysanoptera: Thripidea)) and Glasshouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum Westwood (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)) were determined using a choice test comparing a range of wavelengths in 20 nm steps against a control wavelength. Green (540 nm), and blue (480 nm) LED equipped traps captured significantly more dark-winged fungus gnats (Bradysia difformis Frey (Sciaridae: Diptera)) and diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)) than those without. No significant differences were found between green (540 nm) LED equipped traps and those without for E. formosa, and a significant decrease in the capture of the shore fly parasitoid Kleidotoma psiloides Westwood (Hymenoptera: Figitidae) was observed. In behavioural experiments F. occidentalis showed a peak spectral preference at 360, 420, and 480 nm, and T. vaporariorum at 320, 340, and 380 nm. The addition of LEDs to yellow sticky traps enhanced their capture efficiency for some key pests in commercial protected crop growing environments, and has the potential to enable pest detection at an early stage, consequently optimising the timing of pest management options.