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Control of Stored Food Insects

Control of Stored Food Insects

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Published by draculavanhelsing

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fact sheet

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jan 29, 2013
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The Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Agriculture and the State of Western Australia accept no liability whatsoever by reason of negligence or otherwise arising from the use or release of this information or any part of it.
Important Disclaimer
For more information visit our web site www.agric.wa.gov.au
No. 45
Replaces Farmnote13/87
Control of stored food insects
By Rob Emery, Entomology Branch and Harald Hoffmann, Biosecurity Communications, South Perth 
Dried fruit and milled cereal products have been subjectto insect attack ever since humans began to store foodin excess of their immediate needs. The control of insectpests of such stored products is difficult because thesepests generally live inside the food product they attack.To combat them one must understand their life cycle andhabits.This Gardennote describes some common storageinsects and their control. It also alerts to a potential exoticstorage pest, the khapra beetle, which is not present inAustralia.
Grain weevils
True weevils can be distinguished from other graininsects by their long snouts, at the end of which are theirmouth-parts.The female weevil chews a small hole into the grain orother solid food material, deposits an egg, then sealsthe hole with a gelatinoussubstance. The larvae hatchand feed within the foodstuffuntil they pupate, eventuallyemerging as adults. Thissegment of the life cycletakes four to six weeks andthe adults can live up toeight months, laying 300 to400 eggs in this time.Western Australia has twocommon grain weevils, therice weevil
Sitophilus oryzae 
and the granary weevil
Sitophilus granarius 
. Riceweevil adults can fly. Theyare 2.5 to 3.5 mm long andreddish-brown with fourpaler brown spots on thewing covers. Granaryweevils are flightless, 2.5to 4.0 mm long and shinydark brown to black.
Figure 3. Rice weevil Figure 1. Storage insects are attracted to pantries Figure 4. Rice weevil damage Figure 2. Granary weevil 
Flour beetles
Flour beetles lack the typical weevil snout, are 3 to 4 mmlong and reddish-brown. Unlike the weevils they aresecondary pests, which means they are unable to attacksound kernels.They generally infest products such as flour, oatmealand bran, but occasionally can be found in dried fruits,spices and chocolate. Each female lays up to 400 eggsloosely among food materials. Larvae hatch and feed onfragments of food along with the adults. The life cycletakes four to eight weeks and adults may live as long as12 months.The two most common species in Western Australia arethe rust red flour beetle
Tribolium castaneum 
and theconfused flour beetle
Tribolium confusum 
. Apart fromsome minor differences, these two species look verysimilar. However, unlike the rust red flour beetle, theconfused flour beetle does not fly.humped, with a hood-like thorax and the head setbeneath it. Each female may lay up to 100 eggs. Theentire life cycle takes one to four months.The emerging adults often chew out through plastic,paper and cardboard packaging, leaving small circularholes.
Sawtoothed grain beetles
The sawtoothed grain beetle
Oryzaephilus surinamensis 
,so named because of the saw tooth-like projectionsaround its thorax, is a cosmopolitan pest of stored grainand grain products.Adult beetles may live formore than three years, inwhich time each femalelays up to 300 eggs.Development from egg toadult takes three to fourweeks. Large numberscan develop unnoticed inundisturbed householdfoodstuffs.
Cigarette beetle
The cigarette beetle
Lasioderma serricorne 
, as its namesuggests, is primarily a pest of stored tobacco. However,it occasionally breeds in milled cereal, stored grain andsome most-unlikely commodities such as curry powder,cayenne pepper and paprika.The beetles are oval, reddish-yellow and 2 to 3 mm long.They live for two to four weeks. In a side view they look
Figure 5. Rust red flour beetle Figure 6. Cigarette beetles on Chrysanthemum tea 
Warehouse beetle
The adult beetle is 2 to 3 mm long, oval, brown and thewing cases have an irregular pale marking They arestrong fliers. The larvae are very hairy and infestationsare often first noticed by clusters of cast larval skins.
Figure 7. Sawtoothed grain beetle Figure 8. Sawtooth-like projections around thorax Figure 9. Warehouse beetle grub 
Figure 13. Khapra beetle larva and cast larval skin 
The warehouse beetle is a major pest of stored grain.Large quantities of cast larval skins can accumulate inand around infested material and cause allergenicreactions to workers.
It looks similar to the khaprabeetle, the world’s worst pest of stored grain, whichis not in Australia.
Stored product moths
There are three major storage moths in WesternAustralia: the Indian meal moth
Plodia interpunctella 
, theMediterranean flour moth
Ephestia kuehniella 
and thetropical warehouse moth
Ephestia cautella 
. TheIndian meal moth is one ofthe most common mothpests found in homegroceries.This moth, which has awingspan of about 15 mm,is the parent of the pinkish-white grubs so often foundin food such as raisins,dates and figs. The grubsalso have been known tofeed on biscuits, powderedmilk and chocolate. Theycontaminate foodstuffswith webbing. The larvaegrow to 17 mm long, with adark head capsule andthree pairs of legs. Themoth lays eggs on or nearfoodstuffs. The life cycleusually takes one to threemonths.
Absolute cleanliness in and around food storage areasis essential in preventing infestation. Thoroughly cleanup any spilt foodstuffs, preferably using a vacuumcleaner. Pay particular attention to cracks and crevices.Purchasing small quantities of foodstuffs at a time,keeping them cool, and storing them in containers withclose fitting lids can help prevent insect attack andspread.Often, infestation can be traced to an old packet of driedfruit, flour or spices which has been pushed to the backof a cupboard and forgotten. Destroy all such centres ofbreeding by placing small quantities of infested materialin plastic bags in the freezer compartment of arefrigerator for 48 hours to kill the insects.Thoroughly clean insect-infested cupboards or pantriesand spray them with surface sprays which containinsecticides. Avoid contaminating food, food preparationsurfaces, utensils or humans with the spray. After usingany spray, air the cupboards for 12 hours beforereplacing foodstuffs. Space sprays containing pyrethrinsare also effective in controlling wandering adult insectsin surrounding areas. This prevents them fromrecontaminating foodstuffs during the airing phase.
You can treat small quantities of food if the insectdamage does not require it to be destroyed. Put it in theoven for at least an hour bringing the temperature up to55 to 60
C but no hotter. Gradual heating will raise allmaterial to the desired temperature, but short intenseheating may spoil the commodity being treated. Duringhot summer weather, spreading the material thinly on aniron tray and placing it in the sun for several hours willalso kill the pests.If larger quantities of food need to be treated, see aregistered pest controller with a view to fumigation.
Biosecurity message
Exotic pest, not present in Australia.If you discover this pest or its larva in any of your stored grain or grain products contactthe Pest and Disease Information Service onFreecall
1800 084 881
Khapra beetle
The khapra beetle lavae are up to 7 mm long. They areyellowish at first, then the colour darkens with each moultto red-brown in the final instar. Adults are oval, darkbrown beetles about 2.5 mmlong with yellow brown tored-brown markings on thewing covers.They are considered theworld’s most destructive pestof stored grains and grainproducts. Feeding is usuallyconcentrated over thesurface of infested materialsand down the sides of bins,but may penetrate six metresor more into bulk storage.
Figure 10. Tropical warehouse moth grub Figure 11. Indian meal moth grubs Figure 12. Khapra beetle adult 

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