Natl. Ctr. for Phys. Acoust., Univ. of Mississippi, University, MS
Michelle Walters Geyer
USDA, APHIS, PPQ, Phoenix Methods Development Ctr., Phoenix, AZ
USDA, ARS, Western Cotton Res. Laboratory, Phoenix, AZ
Pink bollworm [Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders)] infestation is a chronic problem for cotton growers in the Southwestern United States. The information needed to control such infestation is based on cutting and examining cotton bolls gathered from the fields, for larvae presence and numbers of pink bollworm. This procedure is laborious and error prone, representing a potential weak link in the information gathering process. A new procedure based on acoustic detection of larvae found within the boll is presented. Larvae eat and move almost continuously, generating sounds that can be detected by a sensitive acoustic sensor. At the USDA, APHIS, PPQ Methods Development Center in Phoenix, boll cutting was compared with acoustic detection, in tests using a multiple acoustic sensor system developed by the National Center for Physical Acoustics at the University of Mississippi. The system consists of 48 sensing units in parallel, each listening to a different boll. Each unit consists of an electret microphone within a stethoscope head and an electronic circuit for signal processing. The units are contained within a sound-proof box that is closed during the tests. It is shown that this acoustic system compares favorably with the cutting process, providing fast, accurate, labor-reducing, insect detection.