Left: Red flour
beetle larvae exposed to concrete treated with the insect growth regulator
hydroprene failed to grow to adulthood. Right: Healthy adults on untreated
concrete. Click image for additional information.
story to find out more.
Protecting Perishables From Package
Pests By Rosalie Bliss
January 11, 2002
Insects that invade and penetrate packaged foods really bug
store and homeowners. Packages can become infested anywhere along the marketing
chain, but most often they get infested during transporting or warehousing.
Naturally, manufacturers of food, feed and other processed products prefer
these unwanted guests to go packing.
As an alternative to traditional insecticides,
Agricultural Research Service
entomologist Franklin H. Arthur at the Grain Marketing and Production Research
Center in Manhattan, Kan., is conducting new research with insect growth
regulators (IGRs) that severely stunt bugs' growth. IGRs prevent insect larvae
from becoming reproductive adults.
To replicate food-storage conditions, Arthur creates miniature
exposure arenas by pouring concrete into petri dishes. Once the
concrete hardens, he sprays the IGRs directly onto the concrete and then
exposes the insects to the treated concrete.
Since IGRs are not normally toxic to humans, they can be used to
banish packaged-food pests, such as the red flour beetle and the confused flour
beetle. Arthur recently evaluated just what effect a volatile formulation of
the IGR named hydroprene has on the bugs. In lab tests, larvae of both beetle
species exposed to hydroprene (sold as Pointsource) often failed to molt to the
adult stage. Of the insects that made it past the stunted-growth hurdle, most
were deformed and died soon after.
Use of Pointsource could be most effective in small, confined
spaces in retail stores and homes.
This research is important because food manufacturers face
increased restrictions for using pesticides. Still, they need to keep packaged
foods insect-free until consumed.
about blocking bugs in the January issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.