Behavioral monitoring of trained insects for chemical detection

Glen C. Rains, Samuel L. Utley, W. Joe Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A portable, handheld volatile odor detector ("Wasp Hound") that utilizes a computer vision system and Microplitis croceipes (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a parasitoid wasp, as the chemical sensor was created. Five wasps were placed in a test cartridge and placed inside the device. Wasps were either untrained or trained by associative learning to detect 3-octanone, a common fungal volatile chemical. The Wasp Hound sampled air from the headspace of corn samples prepared within the lab and, coupled with Visual Cortex, a software program developed using the LabView graphical programming language, monitored and analyzed wasp behavior. The Wasp Hound, with conditioned wasps, was able to detect 0.5 mg of 3-octanone within a 240 mL glass container filled with feed corn (≈2.6 × 10-5 mol/L). The Wasp Hound response to the control (corn alone) and a different chemical placed in the corn (0.5 mg of myrcene) was significantly different than the response to the 3-octanone. Wasp Hound results from untrained wasps were significantly different from trained wasps when comparing the responses to 3-octanone. The Wasp Hound may provide a unique method for monitoring grains, peanuts, and tree nuts for fungal growth associated with toxin production, as well as detecting chemicals associated with forensic investigations and plant/animal disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-8
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioral monitoring of trained insects for chemical detection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this