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Next-generation pest maps track life cycles

Mateusz Perkowski
New maps will allow farmers to better visualize the development of pests based on degree day models.

The next generation of maps aimed at predicting insect life cycles will be released by Oregon State University this spring.

The new “pest event maps” will allow farmers to better visualize important pest events, like egg hatch or first flight, across different micro climates and elevations.

“What’s the best way to extend technical information to the grower?” said Len Coop, associate director of OSU’s Integrated Plant Protection Center.

The color-coded maps will depict the approximate dates of important pest events across different geographical areas, he said.

The technology is built upon “degree day” models that are used to predict insect development based on temperature over time. 

Such data is often highly technical and requires a consultant or extension agent to interpret, Coop said.

Maps that use such data provide degree day information on a point-by-point basis, instead of across the entire landscape, he said.

“It doesn’t spatially allow visualization,” Coop said.

In Oregon, degree days can vary widely across even short distances — in the Hood River area, for example, there is a 5-week spread from the warmest to the coolest regions, Coop said.

The new maps will allow growers to compare insect life stages across broader swaths of land, he said.

The tool is intended to allow farmers better grasp the development of insects over time and space, but degree day models aren’t entirely precise, Coop said.

Other environmental factors beside temperature can affect insect life stages, so the map dates must be taken with a grain of salt, he said.

In some cases, invasive species haven’t become established yet and so models must depend on foreign data, Coop said.

“We’ve got to have an initial guess of when things are happening,” he said.

The first maps, which will focus on gypsy moths and the spotted wing drosophila, are expected to be released this spring online at www.uspest.org.



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