Technology for Wood and Natural Fiber-Based Materials

Research Project

InsectDetect – Detection of active insect pests in the timber trade

Due to both the globalization of the timber trade and climate change, there is an increasing risk of wood-destroying insect species being introduced and spreading rapidly, thereby causing extensive damage to German forests. Previous control procedures for the timber trade are not sufficient. The objective of our research project is to therefore develop an effective control procedure in order to provide support for the timber trade and the forestry sector.

© Fraunhofer WKI | Dr.-Ing. Burkhard Plinke
Sound emission sensor on an infested wood sample
© Fraunhofer WKI | Dr.-Ing. Burkhard Plinke
Long-term evaluation for an active larva

Globalized trade enables wood-destroying insects, such as the Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), to be unintentionally imported via infested sawn or packaging wood. As a consequence of climate change, these insects are finding increasingly better living conditions in Central Europe; so far, however, they have no natural enemies and can therefore spread rapidly.

In this research project, we are developing and testing an effective control procedure for the inspection of imported goods and wood-based packaging with regard to infestation by insect pests. This could be utilized by, for example, timber merchants and surveillance authorities. The aspired objective of the project is a practicable and economical detection method which encompasses a visual inspection of deliveries and an additional acoustic examination of suspicious samples.



Step 1 - Visual inspection of the delivery

In the first step of the control procedure, imports of wood products and wood-based packaging are to be visually inspected. In the case of infestation being suspected, samples are to be selected and taken for further testing (Step 2).

Within the framework of the research project, we are developing a strategy for the visual inspection as well as handling instructions for sample selection by means of easily ascertainable visual infestation characteristics (visible imagines, larvae, boreholes, burrows, bore dust, etc.). The customary expert knowledge which is applied in the damage analysis of timber constructions can hereby be relied upon.

Step 2 – Acoustic procedure for the testing of suspicious samples

In the second step of the control procedure, an acoustic method will be implemented in order to determine the active infestation by means of the sound emissions of insect larvae during food intake.

It is known that feeding larvae in solid wood cause externally measurable structure-borne sound emissions and that through analysis of the emission pattern over a certain period of time, the vitality of the larvae can be determined.

We will adapt and further develop this procedure. Our approach is as follows: The suspicious samples are stored for a certain period of time in a temperature-controlled and soundproof test chamber, equipped with structure-borne sound sensors, and monitored concerning sound emissions. The aim is to keep the storage time in the test chamber as short as possible (a maximum of a few days, shorter if possible), in order to perform the test as economically as possible.

Project partners

Vallen Systeme GmbH


MPA Eberswalde

Dr. Uwe Noldt

LWF Bayern


Funding body:
German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety within the framework of the Waldklimafonds (forest climate funds)


Project management:
Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (Agency for Renewable Resources, FNR)


Funding reference:


1.10.2018 to 31.12.2020

Waldklimafonds (forest climate funds)