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Insect Pest Monitoring

Insect pests are directly responsible for at least 20% crops losses worldwide, making insect pest management an important part of crop production.  Understanding insect pests on crops includes the identification of species, counting the numbers, recording the population dynamics in relation to crop development and environment factors. Accurate Insect monitoring allows you to make informed decisions on pest control. Effective control measure results in lower costs and less environmental impact in crop production.


Insect pest monitoring has long been relying on the scouting work of technicians and entomologists in the niche. It often involves using various insect collecting and trapping equipment, and direct observation of crops and soil. The most common tools used for insect pest scouting are pheromone traps, UV light traps, water and colour traps, and sweeping nets. Conventional methods such as shaking the insects off the trees or crops onto a sheet or observing the roots and the surrounding soil are also been used in field trips.  The specific method and equipment employed in insect pest monitoring are determined by the biology, behaviour of the  target species. For Lepidoptera insect species of economic importance, if a pheromone lure of the species is available, a pheromone based trap is usually the best choice. For nocturnal Lepidoptera insect species that is sensitive to UV light, a black light trap may be the best. For beetles with feigning death ability, shaking individual plant with a sheet at the bottom is often very effective.

Almost all the conventional insect scouting work is labour intensive hard work in usually harsh field condition under all kinds of weather condition, and often requires repetitive field trips.


The data collected in the field was then brought back and processed to provide the necessary intelligence for early warning or decision making in pest control.  

Conventional insect pest monitoring relying on manpower has a number of drawbacks.  

* Relying on manpower (harsh working conditions).

* Requires long-term training.

* Low Consistence of data (different places and over time).

* Delay caused by field trip and data process and reporting procedure.

* Not being able to respond to invading quarantine species such as oriental fruit fly, or outbreak migrating species such as brown plant hoppers, desert locust or Fall armyworms.

While the overall insect monitoring work will still be relying on specialists and their field trips due to its complicity, much of the work can be digitised thanks to the advancement of digital technology.  With pheromone based automatic trap and AI based automatic insect recognition, automatic traps and sensors can be developed to minimise the need for intensive training of technician for knowledge of insect species identification. Automated insect traps and sensors located in various places also means more consistency of data over time and amongst different locations. A internet based data transmission and a computerised data processing means very little delays in data collection and processing, which makes a real-time early warning system for insect pests possible.  


Application of Digital Technology in Insect Pest Monitoring is just only at the beginning, there are huge amount of technology and regulation challenges ahead, nevertheless, there is no doubt that the future pest monitoring will be more efficient, cost effective and reliable.


ProAgroTech’s team of experts is one of the few a pioneers of Application of Digital Technology in Insect Pest Monitoring.  First pheromone based automatic insect trap was developed in 2009 and a field test was conducted in China on monitoring tobacco cutworm (Spodoptera litura).  Dozens of electronic traps targeting various pest species of agriculture and forestry importance have been developed ever since.  A number of pest monitoring system consists of dozens to hundreds of automatic monitors and stations, together with software platforms have been commercially available to local crop protection agencies. 

ProAgroTech’s goal in the next stage of work is to develop pest monitoring system with AI based insect pest recognition technology, so that broader array of insect pests can be monitored. 

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