Forestry researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) are using Hygrochron loggers, which monitor temperature and humidity, to investigate the cause of infestations of scale insects in maple trees in North Carolina.
Scale insects are small creatures that insert their mouthparts into the trees to suck out the xylem and pholum, basically the tree juices, and cause branches to die.
Researchers noticed that these bugs are more common in cities than in rural areas but even within the cities they found that the scale insects are infecting some trees but other trees of the same species were not affected. Specifically, they are interested in temperature and humidity as predictors of scale insect abundance and set out using the loggers to find out why.
The loggers are mounted to branches with a plastic zip tie and are protected by a plastic cup. This impedes the downloading of data from the Hygrochrons as there needs to be surface contact to download data from the loggers. Researchers contacted Thermodata for a solution to enable them to easily read and configure the loggers while they remain mounted in the trees. Robert Keith designed a special probe that connects to the USB port of the Data Downloader, used to collect data out in the field.
The probe was sent to NCSU and was promptly put to use. The researchers said that the probe works perfectly. By using the probe, the field workers were able to save time and labor as the loggers do not have to be removed each time data is downloaded from them.