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Adult saw-toothed grain beetle, Oryzaephilus surinamensis. ©Clemson University, USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org
Adult sawtoothed grain beetle. ©Christoph Benisch -www.kerbtier.de. All rights reserved
Dorsal view of adult O. surinamensis (museum set specimen). ©Georg Goergen (source CABI CPC)
The saw–toothed grain beetle is found all over the world. It is a pest of a variety of stored foods including cereals, cereal-based products, but also copra, spices, nuts and dried fruit. Both adults and larvae feed on externally on maize grains. They are unable to feed on undamaged grains.
Saw-toothed grain beetle
Colydium frumentarium Fabricius, 1792; Dermestes sexdentatus Fabricius, 1792; Dermestes surinamensis Linnaeus, 1758; Silvanus bicornis Erichson, 1846; Silvanus surinamensis Linnaeus, 1758
Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda (Insecta); Order: Coleoptera; Family: Silvanidae
The saw-toothed grain beetle is distributed throughout the world and frequently transported in grain products.
The saw-toothed grain beetle is a slender dark brown beetle 2.4-3 mm in length, with a flattened body, and six saw-toothed projections (“teeth�?) on each side of the prothorax. The abdomen tapers towards the tip and it rarely flies. Its antennae are long and moniliform (“bead-like").
Its eggs are white to yellow-ochre, capsule -shaped and about 0.7 mm long.
Oryzaephilus mercator (Fauvel), the merchant grain beetle, is nearly indistinguishable from the saw-toothed grain beetle, O. surinamensis in appearance. Small differences in the shape of the head and in their genitalia are used to differentiate them. The saw-toothed grain beetle is more commonly found on cereals while the merchant grain beetle prefers oil-seed products.
The female saw-toothed grain beetle lays eggs singly or in small batches in the food product. She lays about approximately 400 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch in 3-8 days. Larvae are free-living and usually pass through four instars. They are unable to feed on undamaged grains. The life cycle takes from 20-80 days dependent on temperature and the adults usually live around 6 to 10 months. Adults normally disperse by walking but can fly at dawn and dusk in warm conditions. Long distance dispersal takes place in contaminated foodstuffs.
Adult and larva
Attacks cereals, cereal-based products, but also copra, spices, nuts, dried fruit.
Fruits, pods, seeds and grain
Seeds and grains: feeding; visible mould, contamination with faeces and dead bodies.
Cultural practicesThe severity of a saw-toothed grain beetle infestation can be reduced by good store hygiene which includes cleaning the store between harvests, immersing grain sacks in boiling water and fumigating the store to eliminate residual infestations, ensuring that all spillages are removed, all cracks and crevices in the store are filled and the selection of only uninfested material for storage. Infestations of this species may also be limited by the storage of good quality grains such as whole cereals with fewer broken grains.
The removal of adults and larvae from the grain by sieving can reduce populations but this is very labour-intensive. The addition of inert dusts such as ash and clay to the grain can reduce insect numbers by causing the insects to die from desiccation.
Biological control has not been practiced against Oryzaephilus species apart from in controlled field trials.
Controlled atmosphereWhere suitable infrastructure exists, low oxygen and carbon dioxide-enriched atmospheres can be used to control stored product pests.
Freezing and HeatingWhere the infrastructure exists, freezing for several days and heating for 24 hours have proved to be effective control methods for stored product pests. Chemical control
The saw-toothed grain beetle is susceptible to all the insecticides normally used on stored food. Fumigation of grain stocks with phosphine will control existing infestations but will not protect against re-infestation. Pesticides are poisons so it is essential to follow all safety precautions on labels.
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Anne M. Akol, Makerere University; Maneno Y. Chidege, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute; Herbert A.L. Talwana, Makerere University; John R. Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat.
We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).
BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]