Do you think only garden plants or crops attract pests?
Have you come across insects in the stored grains, flour and cereal seeds in your kitchen, clothes in wardrobes, books, and documents in the storeroom which are not used very often. Aren’t their pests in those places?
Have you read any articles related to insufficiency of food grains in countries like Africa? The reason is a high prevalence of storage pests
These are pests which are found in any stored food grains (cereals, pulses, and their products) and food products, clothes, books and documents, leather and carpets which are not used or moved often from one place to other. Stored products pests not only include insects but also microorganisms (fungi, bacteria), non-insects (mites), rodents (rats) and birds.
The loss caused by these pests account to millions of dollars every year along with the destruction of important documents and heritage artifacts in homes, offices, and museums.
How do these enter or establish?
- While purchasing indoor items which are infested
- Storing or keeping of items which are susceptible, under poor storage conditions
Damage caused by these pests goes unnoticed as they infest the items which are not in regular use. By the time you notice the pest occurrence, you may lose your stored product partially or completely based on the pest infestation level. If the infestation is significant, the taste, flavor, and quality of food will be altered. Sometimes it creates a favorable atmosphere for the development of secondary pathogens fungi and bacteria which can cause allergic reactions to sensitive people
Signs for the occurrence of storage pests:
The presence of storage pests can be realized only when pests come out from the storage area. Unless you are not a regular user of the product, you can see small moths and beetles flying or crawling over walls, ceilings, powdery residues below or near the stored items.
Damage in stored whole grains and beans can be seen when they are soaked in water, where hollow seeds will float on the top and we can see holes on grains and insect debris. In case of pantries and closets, you will get a stale odour.
Major storage pests:
Kind of damage beetle cause: Adult and grubs will cause damage by boring the seeds and feed on internal contents. We can see circular holes made by the insect while coming out from the seed after damage. At higher infestations, the stored beans will heat up which results in mold growth and causes change in taste and flavor.
Bean beetles, Seed beetles and Pulse beetles: pests of legumes like beans, peas, grains and other foods.
This is one of the world’s most destructive pest that attacks large number of stored products (both animal and plant origin). Hence this beetle is in the quarantine list of most countries.
This beetle usually does not damage the whole grains and is found more in broken bits and flour.
Important pest of tobacco and thus derives its common name from it . It also feeds on processed products of tobacco (raw dry leaves, refined cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco)
Prefer to feed on herbs and medicinal plants which are common in prescription of drug preparation. This pest is known to bore tin, aluminum and lead sheets.
Pest of fabrics and similar items. Cause allergy to sensitive people when they use fabrics infested this beetle.
Rice weevil/maize weevil/wheat weevil:
Another important pest of several food grains majorly on rice, wheat, corn and their products like noodles, macaroni etc. Weevils feed on internal contents of the grain seeds.
In case of moths, damage to grains is entirely caused by larva. Moths are meant only for egg laying. These larvae bore into the kernel and then spend entire larval and pupation stage inside by feeding the grain contents making it hollow.
Angoumois grain moth:
It is an occasional pest of stored grains, especially on corn in the field and other food products.
Indian meal moth:
common moth pest of stored grains.
Mediterranean flour moth:
larva feed on food source by spinning the silken webs.
occasional pest of fabrics (cotton, silk, wool, furs, bristles in brush, hair, feather etc.). Wool is mostly preferred, blended fabrics also get attack by the pest but synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon are not usually attacked by this.
Mites prefers to feed on various food products (animal or plant origin) including flour, cereal products, cheese, dried fruits, dried herbs, hay, leather etc. Mites produce substance called ‘allergens’, which cause allergic reaction to some people.
When products are heavily infested these mites, they look like a layer of fine powder and gives minty like odor when they are crushed.
What are the precautions/preventive measures to be auctioned to manage?
Stay tuned.. and we’ll tackle each of these pests with its ways to eliminate /prevent their growth next Friday.
Sushma completed her B. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Hiriyur and M. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Bengaluru. She is an avid gardener with expertise across soil based and soilless gardening techniques using substrates.