Influence of Inter-Observer Variation on Insect Scouting Observations and Management Decisions

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Accuracy of integrated pest management (IPM) scouting observations was assessed by quantifying inter-observer variation and determining its influence on insect management decisions. During 1984 and 1985, the senior author assumed the role of a scout in the Lincoln Trail area of Kentucky where IPM scouts were employed by a farmer-organized, nonprofit corporation. At the end of the scouting seasons, observations on European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), on western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera LeConte, and on alfalfa weevil, Hypera postica (Gyllenhal), made by IPM scouts were compared and contrasted with those recorded by the research scout. A management decision was made for each paired scouting visit using first the research scout's report and then an IPM scout's report. The results suggest that a population estimate based on one person's observations is not adequate to make a correct insect management decision. Inter-observer variation can affect insect population estimates and management decisions, but it has little effect when populations are at subeconomic levels. Economic thresholds should be developed and used with inter-observer variation in mind.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1989

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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