How to deal with common household storage pests.

Last Friday we wrote about the pests of stored products, how they damage our seeds, pulses, flour, books, documents and even clothes. Today let us see how to keep them away from our products.

Prior to ensuring the control measures, one must know about the source of infestation, i.e., where and how do these pests come from. Maybe from crop fields, machinery used for the processing, reusing of old sacks to fill new grains/seeds, means of transportation and list goes on

Before going to control measures directly, we must follow few basic methods to get acquainted with them.

Monitoring:
Do have a regular inspection of the products so that you will be aware of the possible problem before occurrence (source, presence, and level)

Identification:
If there is a pest attacked product, look for the type of pest, its nature and extent of damage it has already done. If the monitoring and identification are actioned correctly, you can easily choose the control methods for them.

Go for all possible means to achieve good, cheap and safe pest control methods.

Different methods of control

Drying:
A very simple and effective method is drying your stored products in the sun.

Generally, seeds must be dried to a moisture level of 11-12% before storing them. It does not mean these seeds will be completely free from the pests until last bit but this may increase the number of days for which seeds can be stored safely as compared to seeds which have a higher moisture content.

Hence, you need to expose them to full sun frequently for 4-5 hours.

Clay or red soil coat:
This method is for pulse seeds, where you are mixing the seeds with clay or red soil in water to give a layer of soil coat, dry them and store.

The soil layer acts as a barrier layer to the insects to feed on.

Coating with oil:
Any non-drying vegetable oil or other oils can be used for this purpose like coconut, castor bean, cottonseed, groundnut, maize, mustard, safflower neem, and soybean. Usually, 5 ml per kg of seeds is recommended.

This oil coat acts as an egg-laying barrier layer for the pests.

Use of improved containers for storage:
Airtight and moisture proof containers will help in keeping the pest out of the products.

Location of storage:
Store them in a cool, dry, pest-free areas

Other than above methods, we can also add some additives while storing the products.

  • Wood ash: Wood ashes of mango, tamarind, casuarina trees can be mixed with the food grains. Along with the wood ash we can also use chili, pepper powder, pyrethrum or Mexican marigold seeds to increase the protection against pests.
  • Lime: Mixing of quick or burnt lime 0.3% gives good results against weevil’s damage.
  • Sand: Fine sand mixed with seeds which are of bigger size (chickpea, pigeon pea) will give protection from pest as the space between seeds will be filled by sand and thereby avoid the egg laying and insect movement.
  • A mixture of plant parts: Storing the seeds along with Neem leaves, crushed seeds and oil extracts, lantana plant,  eucalyptus tree leaves, aloe plant (dry, ground and dust is mixed with grains/seeds), chilli peppers (ripe, dried pods), sun hemp and datura seeds (NOTE: Datura seeds are poisonous, be cautious while separating and using the grains/seeds)

Majority of the above-mentioned methods are applicable for smaller size quantities. For larger quantity of storage like in the warehouse for export and import purpose. One should give more importance to the warehouse location, using insecticides and fumigants etc.

Stay aware! Stay Safe!

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.

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