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What Are Insect Pest Monitors?

Various pest monitors

Pest monitors are tools that can be very complex and full of technology, such as infrared sensors, motion detectors, and video surveillance. Other very effective monitors are simple traps that can be homemade, inexpensive, portable, and disposable. Sticky traps are one version of such a pest monitor. These are often used indoors to help manage structural and nuisance pests in a home or school, but variations of these are used in conjunction with pheromone attractants (chemical lures) outdoors. They usually incorporate a plastic or cardboard base covered with a very sticky, glue-like substance. When pests walk or fly into the glue, they become stuck and cannot extricate themselves. Many such traps are available to the homeowner and professional alike. The advantage of such monitors is that they work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. They never need a vacation!

Black light trap

Other monitoring tools include devices that capture insect pests as they wander into and are caught in a trap such as passive pit-fall traps. Most often, however, attractions such as light, scents, or food are used to entice pests to enter the trap. Common pest-monitoring attractant-based devices include black light traps, chemical-attractant (pheromones) traps, food-baited traps, or even simply traps that utilize attractive colors or shapes.

Pest managers monitor pest activity to gather information necessary for making pest management decisions. Monitoring relies on tools such as sticky traps, pitfall traps, and light traps to collect data about pest activity between visits by the pest manager.

Other monitoring methods employ nets to catch insects, either used actively, such as with a sweep or aquatic net, or passively, such as with a malaise trap. Sweep nets are commonly used to monitor for agricultural and horticultural pests. A predetermined number of sweeps of the net are made, passing over plant leaves and stems. Then the number of pests caught in the net are counted, which allows a pest manager to determine the number of insect pests per sweep.

Dip Net
Sweep Net

Berlese Funnel

Berlese funnels are another variation of a monitoring trap that uses heat and light to repel, rather than to attract. A sample of substrate, such as leaf litter, soil, or grain, is placed into the holding container on top of a fine-mesh screen. The lights are turned on and left for a time. All small insects or mites in the sample are forced to move away from the light, causing them to fall through the screen and into the collecting jar below.