Detecting Insect Flight Sounds in the Field: Implications for Acoustical Counting of Mosquitoes

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Gerhardt, Reid
Wilkerson, John
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Raman, D. Raj
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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A prototype field-deployable acoustic insect flight detector was constructed from a noise-canceling microphone coupled to an off-the-shelf digital sound recorder capable of 10 h recordings. The system was placed in an urban forest setting 25 times over the course of the summer of 2004, collecting 250 h of ambient sound recordings that were downloaded to a personal computer and used to develop detection routines. These detection routines operated on short segments of sound (0.093 s, corresponding to 4096 samples at 44100 Hz). A variety of approaches were implemented to detect insect flight tones. Simple approaches, involving sensing the fundamental frequency (1st harmonic) and 2nd harmonic, were capable of detecting insects, but generated large numbers of false positives because of other ambient sounds including human voices, birds, frogs, automobiles, aircraft, sirens, and trains. In contrast, combining information from the first four harmonics, from the interharmonic regions, and from the sound envelope, reduced false positives greatly. Specifically, in the 250 h of recordings, 726 clear insect buzzes were detected by the final algorithm, with only 52 false positives (6.5%). Running the final algorithm with all criteria liberalized by 20% increased the number of clear insect buzzes by 8%, to 784, but increased false positives to 471 (28% of total detections). The potential of using this approach for detecting mosquito activity using low-cost sensors is discussed.


This article is from Transactions of the ASABE, 50, no. 4 (2007): 1481–1485.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2007