The science behind sticky pest trap adhesives and pastes

Do you use sticky pest traps and wonder why they work? This overview will give you a good starting point in understanding the science behind them, and with our whitepaper available through the form below, you'll be an expert in no time!

Sticky pest traps are commonly used by gardeners and nursery growers to monitor pests, particularly in greenhouses. These traps consist of a base material (film or board) with an adhesive coating, which is tacky enough to hold a pest that lands on it and prevents it from escaping. This simple modus operandi is complicated by several factors, making the formulation of this adhesive a technical tightrope balancing act! The subject of tack alone could easily fulfil many PhD theses, but we will content ourselves by just touching the surface without getting bogged down like the hapless pest!

  • Level of tack. Different adhesives have different levels of tack depending on the force exerted on the adhesive. This means that a pressure sensitive adhesive for a product assembly application that requires a huge amount of force to pull apart once pressed together by hand may have very poor performance with the tiny amount of force exerted by an insect weighing 0.2 milligrams landing on it.
  • Temperature resistance. The environments which these traps are used can be very diverse in temperatures varying from freezing up to tropical temperatures in excess of 40o This brings its own challenges; Elevated temperatures experienced during transport or whilst in-situ can cause adhesive to seep or drip as the viscosity drops. Conversely, at colder temperatures, adhesive thickens up and can become waxier, dramatically reducing its tackiness and therefore catching effectiveness.
  • UV stability - Pest traps are expected to remain in position for many weeks before being replaced so it is critical that performance does not drop off during this period. Aside from the heating cooling cycles it will endure, there will be significant ultraviolet radiation absorbed which can severely degrade many materials. This radiation comes from the sun and also from lamps used to attract insects in traps.
  • The actual method of applying the coating to the base material, the type of base material, and the deployment at the work site are also important considerations.
  • The rheology of these adhesives needs to be liquid enough to allow pest legs or wings to penetrate the surface yet solid enough to hold onto them when they try to escape.
  • Coat weight. The coat weight of these adhesives needs to contain a sufficient amount of glue to be effective at catching but not too heavy to create wastage or allow adhesive to run out or drip and evenly coated across all surfaces.

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