OPTICAL MANIPULATIONS OF INSECT PESTS FOR PROTECTING AGRICULTURAL CROPS
Sucking insect pests, such as aphids, whiteflies and thrips, cause great economic losses for growers of agricultural crops worldwide. These pests inflict direct feeding damages and they often transmit pathogenic viruses to crop plants. These pests use reflected sunlight as optical cues for host finding. The optical properties, size, shape, and contrast of the color cue greatly affect the response of these pests. Therefore, manipulation of optical cues can reduce the success of their host findings. These pests are known to have receptors for UV light (peak sensitivity at 360 nm) and for green-yellow light (peak sensitivity at 520-540 nm). Green-yellow color induces landing and favors settling (arresting) of these pests. High level of reflected sunlight (glare) deters landing of these insects. We propose to use optical cues to divert pests away from crop plants. This can be achieved by repelling, attracting and camouflaging optical cues. The manipulating optical additives can be incorporated to mulches (below plants), to cladding materials (plastic sheets, nets and screens above plants) or to other objects in the vicinity of the plants. Cladding materials should contain selective additives that let most of the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) pass through and reflect the wavelengths that sucking pest perceive. Results of our studies indicate that optical manipulation can reduce the infestation levels of sucking pests and the incidences of viral diseases they transmit by 2-10 folds. Delay of the aphids infected with non-persistent viruses that must be transmitted within minutes to 1-2 hours by arresting colors is expected to reduce the efficacy of viral transmission. This technology can be made compatible with the requirements for plant production and biological control. Optical manipulations can become a part of integrated pest management programs for both open field and protected crops.
Ben-Yakir , D., Antignus, Y., Offir, Y. and Shahak, Y. 2012. OPTICAL MANIPULATIONS OF INSECT PESTS FOR PROTECTING AGRICULTURAL CROPS. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 956:609-615
whiteflies, aphids, thrips, optical additives, reflective mulch, colored shading net, UV blocking insect screen