Breaking Stored Product Pest
Hearts With Mating Disruption
By Hank Hirsch, B.C.E
When I ask “What is a pheromone?” most people reply that it is some sort of sex attractant. Although they are correct, pheromones are much more than that.
Pheromones are chemicals that are released by insects (and other animals), into the environment, affecting the behavior of others of its own species. There are many different types of pheromones that insects can emit, including:
- Sex attractant
Similar to pheromones, there are also kairomones which are chemicals released by insects (or other animals) into the environment to send signals to different species.
Both pheromones and kairomones are used in pheromone devices that RK Environmental Services deploys in pest management programs to help control stored product insects.
Stored product pests are highly destructive insects that can spoil dried, stored food products commonly found in commercial food processing and storage facilities. At risk food products can include flour, tobacco, grains, pet food, birdseed, dried fruits and chocolate.
A stored product pest infestation can result in lost production time as well as deliver a significant financial blow in the form of costs to replace spoiled product and the expense to have the facility cleaned and the pest threat eliminated.
Some of the most commonly encountered stored product pests in commercial food processing and distribution facilities include:
- Indian meal moth
- Cigarette beetle
- Warehouse beetle
- Cocoa moth
- Tobacco moth
- Almond moth
To combat the stored product pest threat we deploy low doses of synthetic multi-lure pheromones and kairomones in sticky traps strategically placed inside a facility. These traps help intercept the targeted insects and provide us with valuable data on pest activity, specie type and the source of an infestation.
With data in hand we use mating disruption technology to reduce the stored product pest threat inside the facility. Mating disruption is the use of pheromones in large doses without a sticky trap.
The strategy is designed to flood a space with so much pheromone so that males can’t find females and therefore they can’t reproduce. This technology is only available for the Indian meal moth, Mediterranean flour moth and Almond moth since the chemical make-up of these insects’ pheromone is similar.
To enhance our ability to effectively spot trend activity while using mating disruption, we recommend moth suppression. This technique uses a product that is a combination of a food attractant for females and sex attractant pheromone for males.
Hank Hirsch is a Board Certified Entomologist and president of RK Environmental Services and Comprehensive Food Safety