Locusts to be tracked from above

By on 28 September, 2010


Scientists at the University of Sydney are doing new research using spatial technologies to help predict the behaviour of locusts.

Locusts are a serious threat to crop yields, especially after heavy rains such as those seen this winter, and predicting their movement could help the Australian

Plague Locust Commission apply insecticide to swarms more effectively.

The scientists have a theory that locusts are affected by the earth’s magnetic field and that changes in magnetism may affect the locusts’ patterns of movement.

In order to test the theory, scientists will attach tiny reflectors on sample insects that will be monitored from above by a pilotless drone that will flash light on the reflectors using an on-board camera to track their movement.

The researchers, led by Jerome Buhl, will then build computers  to monitor movement and assess with changes in direction can be predicted.

“Ultimately, our goal is to build a model that will provide control operations with a better knowledge of band movement and trajectories so that improved methods such as barrier spraying can be optimised,” says Buhl on his website.


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