How to Prevent Future Infestations of Stored Product Pests

Pest Management In and Around Structures May 20, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

 


Figure 11. To prevent future infestations or the spread of a current infestation, it is advisable to store open packages of food in containers with tight-sealing lids.
Figure 12 (A) . Traps are commonly used to detect the presence of various stored product pests in homes. They should be placed in areas where insects are seen.
Figure 12(B). Traps work by attracting and then trapping the insects onto a sticky substance, often glue or oil, that surrounds the attractant (red square). The attractant is most often a chemical pheromone (mating attractant) or food odor that mimics the insect’s preferred food source. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding trap use.

Sanitation plays an important role in denying stored product pests access to food sources, and thus preventing future infestations. To prevent future infestations, including the spread of current infestations, food should be stored in tightly sealed containers or in a refrigerator or freezer (Figure 11). The date of purchase of commonly used food items should be written on packages before placement in the cupboard. Older packages should be consumed before newly purchased foods. Dry pet food, especially bird seed, should also be stored in tightly sealed containers. The origin of many stored product pest infestations in cupboards (especially Indianmeal moth and sawtoothed grain beetle) is infested bird seed purchased and brought into the home. Therefore, it is advisable to keep bird seed in tightly sealed containers and stored away from the kitchen to prevent the movement of stored product pests into the cupboard. Spilled food that might serve as sustenance for stored product pests should be vacuumed or otherwise removed from cupboards and other food storage areas. Because the adults of some stored product pests are long-lived (6 to 8 months), highly mobile, excellent at locating susceptible food sources (by odor), and capable of chewing through sealed packaging or entering small openings and opened packages to reach the food inside, it is important to commit to these preventive practices early and for the long term.

Traps

Traps for stored product pests are baited with an attractant that is released from a point source typically housed in a small cardboard or plastic container. The area surrounding the attractant is covered by a thin layer of sticky glue or oil. When target insects approach the source of the attractant, they become stuck in the glue or oil and cannot escape (Figure 12).


Traps should be used to detect the presence and density of pests and to monitor the success of control attempts, but they are not useful for reducing population density or eliminating an infestation. It is important to read and follow the manufacturer’s written instructions regarding the number and placement of traps. For example, traps become much less attractive to insects when they become dirty or densely covered with insects. Several types of attractants are used in traps. Pheromones are highly volatile chemicals produced by insects to communicate specific behaviors to other insects of the same species.


One of the most common behaviors mediated by pheromones is mate attraction via the production of sex pheromones. Sex pheromones are typically released by female insects to attract males for the purpose of mating. Because of this, most traps containing sex pheromones trap only male insects. Scientists have identified and synthesized the sex pheromone of many economically-important insects, including several stored product pests. These synthetic chemicals have been incorporated into traps as lures to attract and trap male insects of the target species. Most insects are highly sensitive to sex pheromones. The use of too many sex pheromone traps can saturate the environment with too much attractant, thereby confusing the target insect and reducing the effectiveness of the trap. It is therefore imperative to use no more traps than recommended by the manufacturer.


Another type of pheromone used in traps for stored product pests is an aggregation pheromone. Aggregation pheromones elicit an aggregation response (by both sexes) among target insects. A third type of attractant used in traps for stored product pests is food lures, or chemical attractants that mimic the odor of the target pest’s preferred food source. Food lures are effective when the pest species is not known in advance or a specific pheromone is unavailable.

 

 

"Stored Product Pests in the Home" is a production of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Georgia. The original authors of this content are Daniel R. Suiter, Michael D. Toews and Lisa M. Ames.

 

 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.