AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS INVENT TERMITE CONTROL SENSORS

The latest development in pest control comes from “the Land Down Under”, but its potential has industry watchers already predicting that this Australian termite control development may soon be a part of Arizona termite control (or that of any other state in the country, for that matter). The researchers and scientists at Australia’s Edith Cowan University have invented a device that they claim can actually detect the sound of feeding termites.

Now acoustic detection for termite control is not exactly new, given that various inspectors have been using something that operates on the same basic principle for years now. Your average free termite inspection can even be made with a device that works off the concept of detecting the pests acoustically. However, these devices are often little more than scaled-up stethoscopes: instruments designed to more or less “amplify” sounds or vibrations at one end (the end placed in or on the wall) for the listener to try and make sense of on his end.

As is obvious from this, there is an inherent weakness in these detection tools: they are dependent on human judgement and human hearing, which are rarely of perfect condition in themselves, much less in perfect condition together. A good many members of the termite extermination industry, as a matter of fact, now more or less consider the practice of listening for termites to be dangerously close to the line that would mark “the arcane” practices in the industry, almost a type of current voodoo that cannot be verified or ascertained.

Termite Control Phoenix

The instrument created by the people over at Edith Cowan stands to take care of this by bridging the gap between the conceptual (termite detection through acoustics) and the concrete. The device, called WiSPr or the wireless smart probe, is a tiny sensor that is installed in the house, ideally by attaching it to some wood or to an existing termite station. The purpose of the device is simple: it “listens” to the sounds or vibrations nearby. When one of the sounds it detects matches a pre-programmed sound signature—that which the researchers have identified as being the sound signature for termites feeding—it kicks into action.

This is where the brilliance of this termite control project as a whole comes to light. The researchers, aware of the limitations of each sensor, designed each sensor to work within a network of other sensors around a house, with each one covering a particular area. Thus, all parts of the edifice are monitored. The sensors are also linked to a central system that, when sent the alarm for a detection by one of the sensors, automatically gets in touch with a pest control company via text messaging or email and sends the house’s GPS location data. The researchers who developed the instrument are already looking to market it as a commercial device that may well improve the termite control records in the country.