Got Pests? - New iPhone pest control application

Jul 19, 2010, 17:09 PM by User Not Found
Got pests? UF has a new app for that

It's mid-summer and you can just about hear the screams as iPhone Pest Controlhousehold pests scurry across kitchen floors all over Florida.

While you might not be able to completely stop these insects' advances, you can likely get a better sense of how to control them using iPEST1 - an iPhone application that you can download for $1.99 that gives you information aplenty on about 50 types of insects and other animals.

The application, created by University of Florida entomology professors Rebecca Baldwin and Philip Koehler, and associate research scientist Roberto Pereira, is a guide with four menus that searches by pest type.

Using the iPEST1 application, for examples, will allow you to tell the difference between American, German, Australian and Cuban cockroaches. It also will help you identify various flies, gnats, snails, silverfish and millipedes.

The iPEST1 also can help you identify animal droppings, which might, for instance, let you know whether it's a raccoon, a possum or a squirrel that is rooting around in your vegetable garden.

The iPEST1 can be downloaded online, and it works with Apple devices, including the iPhone.

"We wanted to create an application that students could download," Baldwin said.

Still, it's homeowners who may use it the most, Baldwin said.

"Our goal in developing this series of mobile field guides is to provide an educational tool for homeowners and pest management professionals alike," she said.

When users look for a specific pest, they get the image and text that describe the pest's habitat, behavior and name.

Baldwin said that knowing about the different types of cockroaches, for instance, should help homeowners to know how best to control them.

"When you walk into the garage and see a cockroach scurry by, you can take a look to see if it is a cockroach that would infest and require a treatment or if it is one that just wandered in from outside," she said.

For instance, if you see a small wingless cockroach in your kitchen, you may worry that others may be infesting the cabinets. By using iPEST1, you can see photos and characteristics of adult cockroaches, nymphs and eggs, so you can identify the type in multiple life stages.

If, after further scrutiny, you only find the one roach, which you identify as an American cockroach nymph. iPEST1 will let you know that it likely came from outside and that multiple American cockroaches are not hiding in the cabinets, since American cockroaches are rarely found in homes.

If you had discovered the roach was a German cockroach, you may need to be concerned, as German roaches frequently infest homes and are hard to get rid of. Also, after identifying the cockroach, you can choose the proper pesticide.

Baldwin said another valuable use for iPEST1 is to identify insects that may be damaging your plants outside. For instance, you notice small black flies are appearing in potted plants.

"After a few clicks on the iPEST1 app, you are able to find that you have fungus gnats that are a result of overwatering your potted plants," Baldwin said.

In order to create the iPEST1, Baldwin hired Sudharsanan Sridharan, a UF programmer who wrote the html code for the application.

After the iPEST1 was ready, Apple reviewed it and approved it for sale.