Monitoring Argentine Ant Populations
The Argentine Ant is a problem in citrus orchards and vineyards mostly because it protects sap-sucking pests from natural predators. Entomologist Dr. Mark Hoddle and his team at UC Riverside have created a tool to help farmers more effectively manage these ants based on the fact that the like to move on irrigation pipe.
Hoddle… “So what we have done is working with computer engineers here at UCR, we've developed infrared sensors. The sensors clip onto the irrigation pipe. And as the ants moved back and forth along this pipe, and each time they break the beam, the little computer chip in here records, number of ants that are moving along the pipe.”
This data will make it easier for orchard and vineyard managers to get a sense of where and how significant their Argentine Ant problem may be.
Hoddle… “And as the sensors are transmitting their data to the gateways. On the hour, every hour, the gateway then transmits those data to the cloud through a cellular connection. And you can look at the data on your cell phone using an app that we are in the process of developing. And the very cool thing about these sensors that we can put on: they're all GPS tagged. So as the data comes in, you know what sectors of your orchard are having problems. We've put in humidity, readers and temperature loggers as well.”
Hoddle says the app will be available soon for farmers to get an accurate reading of Argentine Ant problems on their farm.