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Trapping bugs with a PVC pipe.

Trapping Bugs With a PVC Pipe

In the curious world of bug traps, the maxim is always the same: Capture insects and prevent their escape.

But while that seems fairly obvious, success is equally measured by design and function. A cardboard trap that breaks apart in the rain, for instance, will not accomplish the mission. The same is true for traps that are too small, too awkwardly built, or don't dispense their attractants properly.

At ARS' National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, in Peoria, Illinois, scientists may have come up with a trap that avoids those limiting factors while maximizing the potential for luring bugs.

Entomologists Patrick F. Dowd and Robert J. Bartelt, along with microbiologist Donald T. Wicklow, have designed a field trap that is sturdy, simple and, so far, quite successful. Made of tough PVC pipe, the white T-shaped trap measures 9x14 inches fully deployed and stands up to harsh weather. One end of the horizontal pipe is screened at two points to protect the bait; the other contains a funnel through which the insects, typically beetles and mosquitoes, enter.

Once inside, the insects do not turn around and exit through the funnel opening, says Dowd, "because they're stupid. Rather than go out the same way they went in, they look around for daylight and follow that to try to escape." In this case, they follow the light down the vertical pipe and end up caught in a clear plastic bag.

Because many commercial traps are fixed in one position on trees or posts, the odors of the bait attractants that lure pests are not evenly released over a large area. The scientists adjusted for that problem by attaching a swivel mechanism to wire at the top of the T-trap and a small metal plate to one side of the horizontal pipe. The two attachments help to orient the trap into the wind, allowing for an even and continuous rate of release of the bait odor.

"We wanted to include both of those things because the way an insect flies to an attractant is always upwind," Dowd says. "By orienting in the wind, this trap helps the insect detect the attractant, fly up to it, and easily enter the funnel."

The trap was designed primarily to capture dusky sap beetles and picnic beetles. Both are pests of sweet corn, fruits and other vegetables and both can transmit Aspergillus flavus, the fungus that produces aflatoxin. But the trap has also snared moths, bees, yellowjackets, and mosquitoes.

Dowd says the trap would probably work well in home gardens if gardeners were to bait it with the appropriate attractant for a particular insect.

The researchers are patenting the trap and expect to develop a standard odor for sap beetles that will release evenly for about a month without replenishment.

PHOTO : Tough, weather-resistant PVC traps for flying insects such as beetles and mosquitoes. (K-3805-4)

Patrick F. Dowd, Robert J. Bartelt, and Donald T. Wicklow are at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, 1815 North University, Peoria, IL 61601. Phone (309) 685-4011.
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Title Annotation:polyvinyl chloride
Author:Bosisio, Matt
Publication:Agricultural Research
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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