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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wapato, Washington » Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #263059

Title: History and Use of Heat in Pest Control: A Review

item HANSEN, J - Retired ARS Employee
item Johnson, Judy
item WINTER, D - University Of California

Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/18/2011
Publication Date: 10/1/2011
Citation: Hansen, J.D., Johnson, J.A., Winter, D.A. 2011. History and Use of Heat in Pest Control: A Review. Postharvest Biology and Technology. Vol 57(4):267-289.

Interpretive Summary: Control of insect pests in agricultural commodities has historically been a challenge. Regulatory precepts and pesticide resistance prevent the exclusive use of chemicals for pest control. Because all organisms have biological limits to heat, weaknesses of insect pests to excessive heat can be exploited for pest control. This review discusses the current understanding of the roles and limitations of thermal treatments, plus the diversity of heating systems, from simple hot water baths and vapor heat exposures to electromagnetic techniques. The intent of this review is to provide a broad background on heat applications, particularly for the development of postharvest treatments, that might stimulate further advances and applications for pest control.

Technical Abstract: This review describes the history and use of heat in controlling a wide range of agricultural and structural pests. Definitions and concepts used in heat treatments are discussed as well as possible mechanisms of thermal lethality. Factors used in determining treatments are availability, costs, complexity, and other limitations. Heat can be used separately in multiple forms or in combination: fire, water-based and atmospheric, steam, vapor heat, dry heat, forced hot air, high temperature controlled atmospheres, electric fields, and electromagnetic energies. The early work in each of these strategies is presented, including design, temperature ranges, and target pests. An understanding of the development of thermal treatments will increase efficacy of pest control and adaptability and reduce duplication.