PMP interviews sawtoothed grain beetle


March 6, 2017

An interview with a sawtoothed grain beetle (Oryzaephilus surinamensis).

Photo courtesy of, and copyrighted by, Gene White,

Photo courtesy of, and copyrighted by, Gene White,

Pest Management Professional (PMP): Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to meet with me today.

Sawtoothed grain beetle (SGB): I’ve got all the time in the world now, mate.

PMP: Oh, why is that?

SGB: Me mates kicked me out of the band because they said I was a little flat. And here I thought The Beetles were gonna be huge! [SGB looks a bit sad.]

PMP: Well, you are one of the flattest beetles I’ve ever encountered.

SGB: Hey, how can you say that? You’ve never even heard me play!

PMP: I’m talking about your shape, not your musical ability. Besides, I don’t know how you expected to make it big. You spend all your time in this sealed box. By the way, thanks for opening it up for me so we could chat.

SGB: Don’t mention it. Squeezing under the flaps of sealed boxes is one of my special skills. It’s me own magical mystery tour, if you will. I can live undetected while I eat the food I love so much.

PMP: I didn’t know you were a connoisseur of pantry products. What are your favorites?

SGB: [perking up] I like anything made with grain — flour, pasta, cereal. Dried fruit and meat, nuts, candy and tobacco are good, too. I even find yeast and dry dog food tasty.

PMP: Dog food? Really?

SGB: Sure! It’s kept in the pantry sometimes, too, you know. Even if it’s not, I’ll find it in the garage, along with the bird seed and fish food. I’ll even eat the bait you use to catch rodents.

PMP: Is that how you make your way into people’s pantries?

SGB: Sometimes. Other times, I hitch a ride in packages at the factories, warehouses and stores where my favorite treats are made, stored and sold.

PMP: So how are people supposed to prevent you from invading their homes?

SGB: [looks shocked] Stop me? Why would they want to do that?

PMP: Um, because you’re an insect and you’re in their food. Most people find that disgusting.

SGB: Well, then it’s a good thing most people don’t know that my lady friends deposit their eggs in processed cereals and grains. And that the larvae make a cocoon from bits of food when they’re ready to change into adults. Telling them would probably get them to buy less food or worse, keep it in glass containers, and I don’t want that to happen. [SGB lowers the sunglasses he’s been wearing ever-so-slightly.]

PMP: Those are some fine shades you’re wearing; they make you look fab.

SGB: You like them? The rest of my Beetles bandmates made fun of me for wearing them, but I’m not a fan of the light. Here comes the sun and all that? No way!

PMP: You know, even with sunglasses, you look a little like the merchant grain beetle I interviewed last year.

SGB: Oh c’mon now, are you kidding me? I clearly don’t have functional wings.

PMP: In my defense, it’s not like it’s easy to tell. You’re not very big, you know. What are you, about one-tenth of an inch?

SGB: I’m tiny but mighty. Did you notice the “teeth” on the sides of my prothorax?

PMP: Impressive. That’s why you’re called a sawtoothed grain beetle, right?

SGB: Well, me mates call me Ringo, but I suppose you can call me that.

PMP: So if I need to get in touch with you again, where I can find you?

SGB: Check the packages in the pantry. You know, the ones in the back with the oldest expiration dates. Chances are, you’ll find me. But if you don’t, you’ll find my kids because just when you think you got rid of me, my lady friends’ eggs — which may be hidden in cracks and crevices or the food you didn’t throw out — will hatch and there will be hundreds of us feasting on the food in your pantry. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Managing Editor Diane Sofranec can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

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