By Dr. Reid Ipser, Development Representative
Commonly referred to as “pantry pests,” food invaders frequently infest cereal grain products and other foods stored in the kitchen. Nearly all dry, stored food products, as well as dry pet food and birdseed, are susceptible to these organisms. They can be introduced into homes unknowingly, whereby they can infest foods such as grains, flour, cereal and pasta-based products.
The first step in controlling stored product pests is a careful examination of all susceptible materials. Pest management professionals (PMPs) should find and identify the pests and the extent of the infestation. Most of these pests are beetles, moths, mites or psocids.
The most destructive stored product pests are of the weevil genus Sitophilus. Rice (S. oryza), granary (S. granarius), and maize (S. zeamais) weevils are among the most destructive pests of grains, seeds and grain products.
Depending on the species, adult weevils can live from two to five months. Females chew through the husks of grain kernels and deposit one egg, closing the hole with mucus. They can deposit up to 500 eggs during their short lifetime.
Development of the egg also depends on the species — anywhere from five days to five weeks. Because it is able to fly, the rice weevil is considered the most dangerous of the three common stored pest weevils.
Prevention is the best strategy to avoid insect problems in stored grains and storage cabinets. Remove old grain, dust, flour and other food particles in and around storage cabinets. Inspect and remove infested food products. Prevent reinfestation by repackaging materials in properly sealed containers. Thoroughly clean and vacuum food storage areas to make sure no insects, eggs or pupae remain.
After infested food is removed and the area is completely clean, treat storage areas with a residual insecticide. Aerosols are particularly good for crack-and-crevice application in cabinets. Remember to treat all areas, including wall and cabinet voids, where insects might be hiding. No visible dust should be left on food storage surfaces after treatment.
Twenty-four hours after application, vacuum dead insects. Store new products in insect-proof containers and replace in cabinets.