We’ve recently collaborated with an Ag-tech company and run trials to see if, using PhytlSigns devices, we can identify insect infestations prior to visual evidence of plant stress. For Vivent this is an important trial that could lead to valuable horticulture sensing applications.

We tested both sucking and chewing insects, in this case Aphids and Spodoptera caterpillars on young eggplants. We know that the insects attack plants differently and we expected the plants to respond differently but we weren’t sure if electrical signals, that all vascular plants emit, would change in response to the insect attacks.

We are delighted to find that we can not only clearly see the insect attacks, we can see important differences between sucking and chewing insects from plants’ electrophysiological signals. Here is a view of signals from an eggplant with caterpillar infestation. The signal appears much noisier in this view after the infestation.

There is lots more very exciting work to do to understand the details of plant – insect interactions and PhytlSigns seems to be a great way of investigating these phenomena.

Happy to see insects? Definitely!