Fact vs. Fiction: Sawtoothed Grain Beetles


April 27, 2014

Fiction: Sawtoothed grain beetles and merchant beetles are different names for the same thing.
Fact: Although closely related and occupying the same roles in the environment, sawtoothed grain beetles (Oryzaephilus surinamensis) and merchant grain beetles (Oryzaephilus mercator) are two different species. One of the main distinguishing characteristics between the two is
sawtoothed grain beetles do not fly and merchant grain beetles can.

Fiction: Sawtoothed grain beetles can bite humans.
Fact: They have very small heads that cannot bite into human flesh and they are not vectors for human disease.

Fiction: It is OK to eat food that has sawtoothed grain beetles in it because they are harmless.
Fact: Any food with obvious signs of infestation should be considered contaminated and thrown out. This includes pet food. Sawtoothed grain beetles do not carry diseases, but the damage they do to stored products and grains create harborage for fungi and bacterium.
Sawtoothed grain beetles can be found in homes and businesses in a variety of stored grain products: cereals, pastas, pet food, dried fruits, nuts, candy, etc. To prevent infestation, keep all storage areas vacuumed and free of dust; inspect stored foods and treat either by freezing four days at 0°F or heat for 1 hour at 125°F; and store treated products in glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting or sealed lids.

Fiction: Insecticide spraying is the best way to manage sawtoothed grain beetles.
Fact: In this case, insecticide spraying should be considered if and when sanitation, maintenance and product rotation have failed. pmp

You can reach the McGoverns at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com

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