Mini-Aspirator: A New Device for Collection and Transfer of Small Arthropods to Plants

Mahmut Dogramaci, Jianjun Chen, Steven P. Arthurs, Cindy L. McKenzie, Fabieli Irizarry, Katherine Houben, Mary Brennan, Lance Osborne


The process of collecting and/or infesting plants with a designated number of small arthropods in biological experiments is tedious and laborious. We developed a modified mini-aspirator, powered with a vacuum pump and fitted with a specially adapted (removable) collection vial to reduce the handling effort. The efficiency of the mini-aspirator was tested with the chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), a predatory mite, Amblyseius (= Neoseiulus) cucumeris (Oudemans) (Acari: Phytoseiidae), and the insidious flower bug, Orius insidiosus (Say) (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae). Using the mini-aspirator, operators collected 10 A. cucumeris mites and 10 S. dorsalis thrips and transferred them onto pepper plants in 43 s and 37 s, respectively, compared with 639 and 229 s, respectively, using a camel's hair brush as a conventional method. The use of the mini-aspirator for collecting A. cucumeris predatory mites and S. dorsalis thrips and infesting pepper plants with them represents a 15-fold and 6-fold time saving, respectively. Collection of 10 O. insidiosus flower bugs took 20 s with the mini-aspirator compared with 30 s when an unmodified aspirator was used. Proportionally, the amount of time saved with the mini-aspirator for the handling of O. insidiosus flower bugs was minimal compared with the timesavings when handling S. dorsalis thrips and the A. cucumeris predatory mites with the mini-aspirator. Additionally, the mini-aspirator can be fitted with a battery-powered Mini-Vac, which makes it portable for field applications, such as in sampling field populations when screening for pesticide resistant individuals.

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