Several dozen insect species infest food and non-food products of plant and animal origin commonly found in homes. Collectively, this group of insects is referred to as stored product pests. Most are small beetles or moths. |
If food is not limited, populations of stored product pests can multiply rapidly and become widespread and sustained
In some species of stored product pests, only the larval stages consume food. In these cases, the sole purpose of the adult insect is to mate, discover a food resource, and deposit their eggs—all within the few days or weeks they remain alive. Insect species in which the adults also feed can be long-lived and survive and continue to infest and feed on susceptible foods for several months to a year. Stored Product Pest Food Items
Stored product pests vary widely in their food preferences. A partial list of edible food items susceptible to infestation include breakfast foods (especially hot and cold cereals), flour, cake mix, cookies, cornmeal, grits, dry soups, dried herbs and spices, candy, chocolate, rice, dried fruits and vegetables, popped and un-popped popcorn, peas, beans, corn kernels, nuts and seeds (of all kinds of plants), crackers, shelled and unshelled peanuts, powdered milk and protein (e.g., meat and chicken flavorings), biscuit mix, and pasta. Non-consumable items that are potential food sources for stored product pests include dried flower arrangements (such as pot pourri), rodent baits, bird seed, dry pet food, animal products made into treats (e.g., rawhides), dog bones and related treats, dried fish and fishmeal, cigars and other tobacco products, decorative wall and table arrangements containing plant or animal material, dried fruit peels, jewelry or holiday decorations containing nuts or seeds (especially corn kernels), bean bags, door stops filled with beans, corn, or rice, and stashes of food (mainly seeds) stockpiled by birds and rodents in wall voids, attics, crawlspaces, and chimneys.
The mobility of stored product pests is an important factor to consider when searching for the source(s) of an infestation. The adults of some species are excellent fliers, very active, and perhaps attracted to lights. Because of their mobility, infestations (or simply individual adults) can spread into areas well away from their original point of origin or primary breeding site.
he adult stage of stored product pests should be viewed as the stage that initiates and spreads the infestation. Adults are also the most commonly seen stage. In contrast, larvae are mostly confined to the food item(s) they infest, and are rarely seen.
In homes, insecticides can be used to reduce visible populations of adult insects. However, if the only effort at solving the infestation is treatment of adults with insecticides, the problem is not likely to be solved. The infestation will likely persist unless infested material is found and removed, and packages of opened food items are protected from infestation.
Sanitation plays a very 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.
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