Most orchards know the value of insect traps that are checked regularly.
But as they and their consultants take on additional duties, checking traps in a timely manner may become more difficult, according to a news release.
Vince Jones, a scientist at Washington State University's Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, led a group that developed an automated insect trap.
It captures and identifies insects, then relays the data to managers.
The automated trap uses the same pheromone lures as conventional ones.
Once the insect enters the trap, an electrical grid around the bait stuns the insect, which drops into a capture container.
The size of the insect and other identifying characteristics, such as scales, hairs and wings, affect the grid's electrical properties, allowing the system to identify the insect.
The trap then transmits the identification, along with the date and time of capture and trap location to a nearby base station.
It then sends the information to an online mapping system that the orchardists can log into.
One of the few remaining challenges is the current system needs large batteries to power it.
Eventually, the researchers hope to whittle power use down so the trap will use standard D-cell batteries, which would limit maintenance to twice per growing season.
Project collaborators include Johnny Park, Henry Medeiros, Anderson Nishimoto and German Holguin of Purdue University; Larry Hull and Brian Lehman of Pennsylvania State University; and Callie Baker and Teah Smith of WSU.