SITE VISIT: Pest-O-Scope

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Science  07 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5476, pp. 7
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5476.7c

When swarms of armyworm moths took to the skies of northeastern China in centuries past, nervous farmers could only guess where the hungry pests were headed. These days, however, radar entomologists can track migrating and foraging insects with high precision using sensors originally designed to spot incoming enemy bombers or storm fronts. The Radar Entomology Web Site offers an exhaustive guide to this little-known field, from its early history to a list of current practitioners— often government scientists trying to improve pest control.

The site, developed by biometeorologist Alistair Drake of Australia's University of New South Wales in Canberra, includes blurbs on recent research, upcoming meetings, and a bibliography. A Q&A column answers readers' questions, such as how much it might cost to build your own radar or the estimated airspeed of migrating beetles. Technophiles will enjoy the Radar Photofile, which profiles insect radars past and present, from scanning dishes to harmonic arrays. And don't miss the radar images, patches of dots and streaks that show, for instance, honeybee drones congregating near a Texas hive and aphids surfing a surging sea breeze in Finland.

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