Smart System Identifies Olive Fly's Flutter

A new technology would allow olive producers to identify when the olive fruit fly is present in their groves and react accordingly.

By Daniel Dawson
Jan. 8, 2018 11:19 UTC

A new smart sys­tem for the bio-acoustic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the olive fruit fly has been unveiled at a tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence.

The sen­sor works by com­par­ing the spec­tral fre­quency of the flut­ter of the insect and com­par­ing it with the pat­tern of that of the olive fly.- Carmen Capiscol, Citoliva

The sys­tem, which was devel­oped by Citoliva and Inoleo, is com­prised of an opto-elec­tric fly sen­sor and com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work. This allows data about Spain’s most pro­lific olive-related pest to be gath­ered, syn­the­sized and eas­ily visu­al­ized on a smart­phone, tablet or com­puter.

The sen­sor works by com­par­ing the spec­tral fre­quency of the flut­ter of the insect and com­par­ing it with the pat­tern of that of the olive fly,” Carmen Capiscol, a mem­ber of the research, devel­op­ment and inno­va­tion team at Citoliva, said. Then decid­ing whether it is in fact the olive fly or not.”

Data from the sep­a­rate sen­sors are col­lected and uploaded onto the Cloud, where they are com­bined with an inte­grated pest con­trol sys­tem. Temperature and time data are also recorded and stored in the inte­grated pest man­age­ment tool.

With the data, a spa­tial deci­sion sup­port sys­tem iden­ti­fies when and where to start the sys­tem and acti­vates it,” Capiscol said. When a fixed tem­per­a­ture thresh­old is crossed, the degree-day growth is cal­cu­lated and esti­mates the time at which the first fly peak will appear.”

Olive pro­duc­ers would be able to iden­tify when the olive fruit fly is present and react accord­ingly. The sys­tem’s devel­op­ers believe this would reduce energy con­sump­tion involved with mon­i­tor­ing for the fly as well as lead to a more prag­matic appli­ca­tion of pest con­trol mea­sures.

The sen­sor would be placed inside of a mod­i­fied McPhail trap, an inverted fun­nel with a trans­par­ent bell on top. Flies crawl through the fun­nel and are drawn to the com­bi­na­tion of light and a pheromone, which is placed at the top of the trans­par­ent bell. This com­bi­na­tion keeps the fly attracted until it runs out of energy and sub­se­quently drowns in a dish of soapy water placed on top of the inverted fun­nel.

Unlike tra­di­tional McPhail traps, which indis­crim­i­nately cap­ture flies, this spe­cial­ized one would only open when the sen­sor iden­ti­fied the approach­ing fly as an olive fruit fly.

When the sys­tem was tested in a lab­o­ra­tory ear­lier this year, it cor­rectly iden­ti­fied the olive fruit fly 91 per­cent of the time. The sys­tem then cor­rectly syn­the­sized and sent the appro­pri­ate data to the Cloud, 95 per­cent of the time.

The trap comes with a recharge­able solar panel and, depend­ing on weather con­di­tions, should be able to last as long as 200 days with­out chang­ing. However, the pheromone used to attract the flies would still need to be changed every 30 to 45 days.

Capiscol said the imple­men­ta­tion of the sys­tem could cost up to €600 per hec­tacre. This price includes three traps (in each hec­tacre), which last for roughly five years a piece.

The price may seem pro­hib­i­tive, but the poten­tial dam­age from the olive fruit fly is much worse, accord­ing to the University of California Integrated Pest Management pro­gram.

In areas of the world where the olive fruit fly is estab­lished and not con­trolled, its dam­age has been respon­si­ble for losses of up to 80 per­cent of oil value because of lower quan­tity and qual­ity,” Frank Zalom, an ento­mol­o­gist at the University of California, Davis, said. And in some vari­eties of table olives, this pest is capa­ble of destroy­ing 100 per­cent of the crop.”

Oxitec, a United Kingdom-based pest man­age­ment research firm, found that in Greece alone an esti­mated €35 mil­lion is spent annu­ally to con­trol the olive fruit fly in order to pre­vent esti­mated indus­try losses of up to €650 mil­lion.


Related Articles