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LED technology being explored to control pests

LED technology being explored to control pests

By Michelle Ross, Contributor, BizLED Bureau

August 25, 2015: Pesticides may have helped improve food yield and fight against insect-borne diseases in plants and crops, but it is a known fact that these have very harmful impact on our health.

It has been proved that several pesticides cause cancer, birth defects, and other health problems. It also has negative impact on wildlife.

Scientists have been looking for synthetic pesticides, and organic and biodynamic farming has helped us to do farming without pesticides. Now with advancements in lighting technology, the farming industry can think of alternatives to chemical pesticides. LEDs and lasers can work in place of pesticides and protect our food.

The usage of lighting technology to fight insects is, however, not a new concept. Bug zappers, yellow and green fluorescent lights, etc have been used against insects that destroy plants and crops.

What is new about lighting technology being used as an alternative to pesticides is LEDs, which is gradually becoming affordable to be used as an alternative to synthetic pesticides. LED technology can control wavelength, color and tone, moreover, it is energy efficient.

A team of researchers from Tohoku University have found that blue LED in the right frequency can kill insects. They found that light around the blue part of the spectrum is lethal to insects like mosquitoes and fruit flies. They found that wavelengths of light from ultraviolet (378 nanometers) to visible blue-green (508nm) killed insects, but wavelengths of red and yellow light had no impact on insects.

Also, different lights kill different insects. For example, while fruit flies die under a 467nm, mosquitoes get weaker under 417nm wavelength light.

Laser-based photonic fence

Another way of fighting insects with lighting technology is called photonic fence. It uses lasers to identify and kill insects, particularly mosquitoes in midair. The photonic fence uses LEDs to emit infrared light on a retroreflective surface, even several yards away. This sends the light back to a camera lens that is attached to the array of LEDs. This lens can detect insects that tries to cross the infrared light fence.

In such a scenario, the photonic fence hits the insects with a harmless diagnostic laser, which measures the insect’s wingbeat frequency to identify the species. This fence is so advance that it can even distinguish between male and female mosquitoes. If it is a female mosquito, a second laser hits her and burns off her wings, and all this happens within a fraction of a second.

The photonic fence, which was initially designed to fight mosquito menace, is now being used to target any flying insect. So, it can be used in schools, hospitals or even homes. The farming industry is hopeful that soon virtual fences will be used to protect crop-infecting insects.

Opinions expressed by BizLED contributors are their own. None of the facts and figures mentioned in the story have been created by BizLED.co.in. BizLED is not responsible for any factual errors.
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