Stored Product Pests and Mating Disruption

Pest Management Solutions for Your Business

No one wants to quash a blossoming relationship, but that’s not the case when it comes to stored product pests and food processing and storage facilities. The attraction between these pests and facilities can be fatal and must be mitigated.

What can facility and QA managers do to reduce risks when it comes to stored product pests? Sprague Regional Entomologist Ashley Roden, B.C.E. recommends deploying a mating disruption program.

Ashley Roden - Sprague Pest

Ashley Roden, B.C.E.

Mating disruption is the process of introducing pheromones into a facility with the intention of distracting male Indian meal moths as they are trying to make a love connection with their female counterparts during mating season.

The artificial pheromones create “false trails” that make it harder for male moths to find their soul mates and when that happens mating doesn’t occur, eggs are not laid, and the populations of these destructive pests drops.

Pheromone pads are installed in areas inside facilities that contain items that stored product pests feed on. The pheromone and insect light traps are then monitored to ensure that populations are decreasing. Recent advancements in mating disruption technology have led to the creation of a liquid version that can be added to fogging treatments.

Facilities can now have a mating disruption and fogging treatment delivered simultaneously. This helps saturate the target area with pheromones blocking stored product pests from mating and protecting the products stored there.

Why are stored product pests a threat to food processing, storage and retail grocery facilities?

Stored product pests spoil or damage products costing food processors money when product must be thrown out or shipments are rejected by customers. Unbudgeted expenses for lost production time to clean and sanitize equipment and for additional pest management services also contribute to the problem.

Flour, nut, coffee and pet and bird food processing facilities, grocery stores and distribution warehouses are prime targets for stored product pests.

Indian meal moths are most destructive during the caterpillar when they leave sticky webbing behind that glue food or seed together.

Why is now an important time to look at mating disruption for stored product pests?

Indian meal moths begin mating and flying when temperatures rise above 65 degrees. While clients in many regions Sprague services don’t have an immediate need for a mating disruption program, they will a month from now. It’s better to act now and be proactive, and not have to take more costly actions later.

How can clients help reduce risk when it comes to stored product pests?

Clients can reduce the risk of stored product pest infestations in their facilities by following these best management practices:

  • Carefully inspect incoming shipments for signs of pest infestation. Mature Indian meal moth caterpillars can be tan, pink or greenish in color and leave behind spider-like webbing.
  • Look for product spillage inside delivery truck or rail cars. Did it come from pests chewing their way out of product packaging – look for exit holes on bags – or was it leftover in the truck.
  • Do not accept incoming shipments that you have doubts about. Reject or discard the shipment or establish a ‘holding’ room where you can monitor shipment for signs of pest activity. Do not move shipments designated for the ‘holding’ room through production or storage areas of your facility.
  • Follow first-in, first-out inventory practices. Some stored product pests – drugstore or cigarette beetles – can stay inside products for months and will explode out of packaging all at once.
  • Establish regular sanitation and cleaning schedules. Food debris, especially around the feet of product storage shelving, can attract pests of all types.
  • If you find an unusual pest, save it and give it to your pest management service provider. Accurate pest identification is the key to arriving at a correct treatment solution.

For more information on how Sprague Pest Solutions can assist you create and deliver an effective mating disruption program for your commercial property, call 855.805.0755.

Commercial Properties, Flies & Moths