By Amanda Wilkes:
Once again, technology saves the day! Scientists have developed a way to eliminate harmful pesticides for at least one species of bugs. With this new technology, we may be able to one day eliminate toxic pesticides altogether. For now, scientists are focused on the Asian citrus psyllid that is threatening your ever so loved orange juice grown in Florida. This bug feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus trees, which wouldn’t be so bad, but they leave bacteria on the leaves and stems that in turn causes them to turn yellow and eventually leads to the trees’ ultimate demise. This is known as “citrus greening” disease and has cost the orange juice industry $3.6 billion between 2006 and 2012. You obviously can imagine why they are so eager to find a solution. Thankfully, we may all benefit from their investment in a new technology.
Researchers are looking for a new way to terminate these pests, as they are fearful that the bugs will eventually become resistant to the pesticides now being sprayed. One idea for combatting the psyllids that is now being investigated is the use of sound! This is how the idea works: the male psyllid produces a buzzing sound at the ends of leaves when he is looking to mate; the new device identifies the psyllid’s buzzing sound and is then triggered to create a fake female response call, which lures the male psyllid; an when the male psyllid gets near the device, he is captured and immobilized on a sticky surface. This way, the Asian citrus psyllid is prevented from reproducing and causing the trees to die, which costs the juice industry a fortune. Regrettably, right now the device is quite expensive and the sound covers only a couple of feet; however, scientists are hopeful that in the near future the cost of this new technology will continue to decrease.
Many other devices, such as the mosquito trap, have been created; however, this new pesticide technology is a little more complex. I look forward to the development of a sound based pesticide that, with time and money to advance it, will replace chemical based pesticides and will eliminate all the damaging bugs and pests. Imagine the day when all produce sold at your local grocery store is pest-free, chemical-free and affordable!