By George Munene
A solar insect light trap is one of the most effective tools of insect pest management in both organic and conventional agriculture as it mass-traps both insect pests sexes reducing farm pest burden by up to 80 per cent.
Light traps are energy-saving and easy to use and independent of electricity allowing farmers to monitor and control insect pests. As a one-off 5–6-year investment it significantly reduces the repeated costs of buying pesticides.
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With a majority of flying pests harmful to crops being nocturnal, they are hard to control by conventional methods. Light traps, one for every half an acre, used at the onset of the planting season control nearly all the insect pests that attack crops from fruit borer moths, hoppers to fruit weevils. By attracting and killing one adult moth, for example, farmers can control around 300-400 subsequent insect progenies.
Light traps also help farmers figure out what types of insects are there in the field and whether they are at a controllable level or not. If the insect population burden is too heavy to be controlled by a light trap the farmer can decide on a more potent pest management method they’ll have to take up.
The solar insect light trap has the advantages of being portable; it can be easily fixed at any place of the crop field using a tripod stand and can be shifted easily from one plot to another. They are made of steel and plastic and powered by a 10–15-watt solar panel. It should be set 3-5 feet from the floor— the height at which flies typically travel. It is also automated; switching on at 5 pm and going off at 8 am; meaning the farmer does not require to examine it all the time.
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One downside to using light traps is that they do not filter out what insects are attracted to them meaning some nocturnal beneficial insects can also be caught and killed. With time their UV coating also wears off and even though the lamps still light, it needs replenishing or else it won’t attract and trap as many flying Insects.
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