Mating Disruption and Stored Product Pests

An infestation of stored product pests can result in lost production time, lost sales and brand damage. It can also lead to unbudgeted expenses to replace spoiled products, cleaning the equipment and need for additional pest management services performed.



One way to put a damper on the “romance” of the highly destructive stored product pests is to deploy a mating disruption program in your facility.



The term “mating disruption” refers to the use of sex pheromones to confuse male insects so they cannot find females, thus preventing mating and suppressing the growth and spread of infestations.



Mating disruption works for stored product pests such as Indian meal moths, cocoa moths, almond moths, tobacco moths and Mediterranean flour moths. Since these moths share components of their pheromones, one pheromone works for all of them.



“Completing the life cycle is how the population grows and infestation spreads,” says Jeff Weier, technical director for Sprague and an internationally-recognized expert on stored product pests. “Because of the strong attractiveness of sex pheromones, they can be used as lures in traps to capture male insects and help detect activity.”



A mating disruption program consists of strategically placing dispensers containing large quantities of pheromone in areas of the facility where pest activity has been noticed. The male moths cannot differentiate between the “dispenser plumes” and plumes created by females, and they follow these diversionary plumes, exhausting themselves before they can mate.



“The introduction of mating disruption is, arguably, one of the most significant advances in stored product moth control since methyl bromide was introduced as a space fumigant, “adds Weier. “Learning how to use it can make a facility’s pest management program more efficient and effective.”



8 Stored Product Pests Prevention Tips


With an appetite for rice, flour, cereal, dry pasta, breads, tobacco, grains, pet food, birdseed, dried fruits and chocolate, these insects are a costly nuisance in food processing and storage facilities. Facility and QA managers can take preventive steps to head off stored product pests by following these steps:




  1. Carefully inspect incoming shipments for signs of pest activity. Torn packaging or broken seals can provide pests with access to food products during shipment.
  2. Keep storage areas dry as moisture increases the likelihood of infestations. Store sacks of grain, flour and other food products off the floor.
  3. When storing or moving food products within the facility, use storage containers that can be sealed to deny pests access.
  4. Observe the first-in, first-out rule of inventory. Rotate products frequently, and do not store food products, especially those in paper or cardboard containers, for extended periods of time.
  5. Do not mix old and new food products. If the old product is infested, the insects will be transferred immediately to the non-infested product.
  6. Stored product pests can be small and hard to see, and can hang on in empty containers. A thorough deep cleaning of mixing, storage or transportation equipment should be done before the equipment is reused.
  7. Practice good sanitation in your facility. Clean up spilled food and eliminate conditions that pests find attractive.
  8. If an infestation is found, immediately discard the infested food and check surrounding food products for cross-contamination.


Stored Product Pests