Palms are one of the most familiar plant families. They are commonly cultivated as ornamentals, and many palms have been used as crop plants for centuries, providing important sources of food and a variety of other products. As such, palms are one of the most economically important groups of plants. Relative to most cultivated plants, palms are relatively pest-free. However, a number of arthropod pests attack palms in sufficient force to be a threat to the plant, and some vector diseases that are potentially lethal to palms.
Screening Aid to Pests (SAP), part of the commodity-based A Resource for Pests and Diseases of Cultivated Palms, is aimed primarily at the novice entomologist. It is designed to help users determine which type of arthropod palm pest they have found and features illustrated fact sheets with descriptions of each pest as well as two interactive keys. In the keys themselves, common language terms are used to help support use of the keys by inexperienced individuals. However, in order to maximize their value and validity, some specialized entomological terminology appears in the fact sheets. We provided a glossary with links from the fact sheets to assist the user in understanding such terms. There is also an illustrated primer to insect anatomy provided here.
This tool was originally released in October 2010. It was updated in December 2013 to make the site dynamic, bringing the fact sheet data into ITP's online database and allowing the creation of a filterable image gallery. The keys were also changed from the Java applet version to the key server version to circumvent the security issues inherent with the Java version. However, there were no content updates to the keys or fact sheets as part of this update, so all the fact sheet and key content is current as of October 2010.
The intended audience for this tool is non-experts working in the field within Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS), National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), and other national, regional, and state agricultural agencies/organizations with responsibilities associated with pest and disease survey and detection. Since this tool is intended as a screening aid for less experienced users in the field, most features in the key can be used with the naked eye or a handlens. Infrequently, a dissecting microscope or stereoscope may be required for very small specimens. For definitive species confirmation, specimens should be sent to an expert for verification.