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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Insect-o Graph All-text Page

Insect-o-graph Is On The Job

Bugs can run, but they can’t hide from the Insect-o-graph. This device can find bugs hiding inside seeds and grain kernels. In fact, it can find an insect that trained experts can’t see.

That’s important to inspectors who work to make sure grain is insect-free. The device was built by National Manufacturing, Inc., of Lincoln, Nebraska, based on technology developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The Insect-o-graph uses electrical signals to check wheat as it’s milled or ground into meal. If a seed containing an insect is crushed, a monitor shows an electrical spike and a computer counts the number of insects in a small sample of the grain.

The Insect-o-graph system can detect really low levels of infestations—just 5 to 10 infested seeds out of 30,000 good seeds.

Grain companies inspect grain as it comes into their facilities. Before unloading a truck or railroad car full of grain, workers sample the load and inspect the grain. The Insect-o-graph can estimate the number of live insects hidden in a kilogram grain sample in about 1 minute.

The Insect-o-graph can make life easier for these companies and save them money. Tracking insect infestations in stored grain is important to ensure good grain quality, because insect colonies can multiply very quickly, and they eat and damage grain as the colonies grow.

Insects cost grain companies money because of kernel damage. The companies also have to do more cleaning to take out insects and damaged kernels.

Clean grain is good news for us all, because nobody wants a bug floating in their bowl of cereal!

—By Sharon Durham, Agricultural Research Service, Information Staff

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Last Modified: 2/14/2011
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