The Tobacco Whitefly Up- Close And Personal With
For years, scientists have been battling against the most dreaded pest today, the Tobacco Whitefly. This pest is known for destroying any crop it encounters, as well as spreading plant viruses. The devastation this pest is capable of was so massive to the point that the European Whitefly Studies Network (EWSN) was established. This network comprises of scientists as well as industrialists from all over Europe, with one goal which is to finally combat and stop the pest from spreading.
The Tobacco Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) also referred to as a 'superbug', is one of the worst pests today, posing a threat to not just national, but global agriculture. In example, this notorious bug already cost US agriculture about $500,000,000 because of the damages it created. These whiteflies not only suck out the sap of plants, but also, they are able to infect, damage and kill different species of crops. Once the plant is infected, all consecutive whiteflies that ingest the plant's sap become a virus carrier. Female whiteflies are capable of laying up to 250 eggs which is why their numbers exceed millions in crop fields. These pests are hard to kill since they have developed a resistance to insecticides. The agricultural industry is in jeopardy because of these pests which is why there is a need to study how they interact with the different plant species to be able to destroy them.
Vision Engineering is known for producing fully functional, wide range, top-of-the-line microscopes for any task. Entomologists within EWSN have been using microscopes from their range for their entomological studies, specifically to study the whitefly. These creatures are collected from their colonies from crop fields where they reside and kept inside controlled-environment rooms so that their behavior can be studied. Such studies involve looking into their natural enemies, physical barriers as well as the effects of new pesticides, in order to find a loophole and finally destroy them. The microscopes being used by the EWSN comprise of the Mantis low magnification viewer and the Alpha and Beta stereo zoom microscopes, all of which have brought them an in-depth look into the life of a Tobacco whitefly.
The Mantis low magnification viewer is used to study the adult whiteflies on infected plants. Since the Mantis has a large working distance, an all round view of the plant samples is possible. The view is of a clear, bright stereo image which can be viewed by the operator. The whiteflies are subjected to CO2 which controls and prevents them from moving around the plant sample while the observation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the Alpha and Beta stereo zoom microscopes are used for the detailed study of the adult and larvae stages of the whitefly. The Alpha stereo zoom microscope uses an expanded eyepiece for efficiency of operator use, which also makes it comfortable to use all day. The Beta stereo zoom microscope is equipped with a conventional eyepiece for stereo viewing at mid-range magnification. These two microscopes make use of a floating stage, which allows easier movement of the dishes and plant samples for a constant working distance. Both these microscopes can be easily connected to a digital camera, allowing researchers to display the live video feed while they work, as well as capturing high resolution images of the whitefly.