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Open Access Research

LED-Induced fluorescence and image analysis to detect stink bug damage in cotton bolls

Adnan Mustafic1, Erin E Roberts1, Michael D Toews2 and Mark A Haidekker1*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Engineering, University of Georgia, Athens, 30602-4435, GA, USA

2 Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Tifton, 31793-0748, GA, USA

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Journal of Biological Engineering 2013, 7:5  doi:10.1186/1754-1611-7-5

Published: 20 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Stink bugs represent a major agricultural pest complex attacking more than 200 wild and cultivated plants, including cotton in the southeastern US. Stink bug feeding on developing cotton bolls will cause boll abortion or lint staining and thus reduced yield and lint value. Current methods for stink bug detection involve manual harvesting and cracking open of a sizable number of immature cotton bolls for visual inspection. This process is cumbersome, time consuming, and requires a moderate level of experience to obtain accurate estimates. To improve detection of stink bug feeding, we present here a method based on fluorescent imaging and subsequent image analyses to determine the likelihood of stink bug damage in cotton bolls.

Results

Damage to different structures of cotton bolls including lint and carpal wall can be observed under blue LED-induced fluorescence. Generally speaking, damaged regions fluoresce green, whereas non-damaged regions with chlorophyll fluoresce red. However, similar fluorescence emission is also observable on cotton bolls that have not been fed upon by stink bugs. Criteria based on fluorescent intensity and the size of the fluorescent spot allow to differentiate between true positives (fluorescent regions associated with stink bug feeding) and false positives (fluorescent regions due to other causes). We found a detection rates with two combined criteria of 87% for true-positive marks and of 8% for false-positive marks.

Conclusions

The imaging technique presented herein gives rise to a possible detection apparatus where a cotton boll is imaged in the field and images processed by software. The unique fluorescent signature left by stink bugs can be used to determine with high probability if a cotton boll has been punctured by a stink bug. We believe this technique, when integrated in a suitable device, could be used for more accurate detection in the field and allow for more optimized application of pest control.