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Insect Pests Find Pet Stores
Irresistible By Amy
December 27, 2002
Retail pet stores lose millions of dollars every year in stolen
feed stock, but these thefts aren't reported to the local police. That's
because the culprits aren't people--they're insects.
Until recently, little information was available about the types
of insects that infest pet stores and the places in the stores where they're
most likely to be found. Now, the Agricultural Research Service,
Kansas State University and
Nestlé Purina Pet Care
Company are addressing this lack of data.
In February 2001,
Jim Campbell, an
entomologist at ARS' Grain Marketing and
Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kan., began collaborating with KSU
research associate Rennie Roesli, KSU professor Bhadriraju Subramanyam, and
Nestle Purina division manager Kim Kemp in a stored-product insect study.
For seven months, the scientists surveyed eight retail pet
stores in Kansas to determine the infestation and distribution rates of
different insect species. They also evaluated the impact of chemical and
nonchemical interventions on the insect populations.
The researchers placed food- and pheromone-baited pitfall traps
and pheromone-baited sticky traps throughout each store to detect beetle and
moth populations. They also swept, vacuumed and disposed of infested products
in two stores, combined sanitary practices with an insect-growth regulator in
two stores, combined sanitary practices with a pyrethroid insecticide in two
stores, and left two stores untreated.
The scientists collected more than 41,000 insects, representing
more than 30 different species, from the eight stores. The insects were most
often concentrated near bulk food bins, on shelves holding wild bird seed and
small animal food, and in stockrooms. Although combining sanitary practices
with pesticide applications to specific floor areas helped reduce beetle
numbers, it did not help reduce moth numbers.
Campbell says that no single pest management approach will stop
insect infestations from occurring in retail pet stores. However, integrated
pest management programs that include proper sanitary practices, frequent stock
rotation and the targeted use of pesticides will help reduce the problem.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.