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Insects commonly found in food, also known technically as stored product insects, covers a large number of insects. They can infest a variety of stored products in particular foodstuffs such as grains, cereals, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and even tobacco, especially in farming and agriculture.

Stored grain insects are a health hazard in both private homes and businesses like food processing plants, warehouses, bakeries, stores, restaurants, mills, farms and silos. They can also cause enormous economic losses through damage and contamination of food products.

Any contamination will make your food unfit for human consumption.

Identifying and removing the source of the infestation is a critical part of effectively controlling these pests.

Businesses like food processing plants or grain storage facilities can greatly benefit from an ongoing professional pest management program to contain and eradicate infestations along with high standards of hygiene and sanitation, including stock rotation practices in accordance with any applicable regulations.

Call Ehrlich at 800-837-5520 to talk to an expert about stored product insect control.

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Ehrlich’s services for stored product insects

In spite of their tiny size, these insects present a large threat to businesses and machinery. Potential harm includes the following:

  • Contamination of foodstuffs and goods - resulting in serious loss of valuable stock.
  • Damage to processing machinery due to the buildup of food product (caking) in machinery caused by the stored product insects
  • Grain warming— insect activity in infested grain can produce heat and moisture, which can facilitate the growth of mold and can affect germination
  • Non–compliance with legislation - leading to damaged reputation, and income.

At Ehrlich, we have an expert team devoted to our food clients. Our team is made up of High Dependency Technicians, Field Biologists, QA Managers and Technical Managers.

Our accumulated knowledge of maintaining the levels of protection required by our clients means that our skills, expertise and solutions are unmatched across the country and the world. 

We can resolve pest insect problems fast and with the minimum of fuss using pesticide-free heat treatments and tailored fumigation solutions. 

Want to know if you have a problem? See how to identify the signs of pests in food.

Call us today at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to learn how our services could benefit your business.

Signs of pests in food

Discovering pests in your cabinets can be distressing. Owing to the risk of contamination they will most likely spoil and damage any food they come into contact with. In your home, this may mean you throw out some stored flour or sugar but in your business the financial loss from damaged goods will be much higher.

It is important to be able to identify the earliest signs of a problem to enable a quick solution and a guaranteed control measure which prevents a re-infestation.

Pests in food guide

Read more about the many different types of species that can be found in food across the U.S.

Have you spotted pests in your food?

Call Ehrlich today for advice and to schedule a pest inspection of your business or contact us now.

How to identify pests in food

Common signs of stored product insects (SPIs) include:

  • damage to store product, live or dead insects (small beetles and moths), larvae, pupae or silken webbing on food storage bins on shelves
  • infestation, holes, larvae or webbing on the outside of packets or bags
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing in food harborages in cracks and crevices around shelves or on machinery
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing in food spillages
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing on beams and window sills
  • Indications of the pests in insects traps or rodent stations

Types of food pests infest

If you suspect a problem, it is also worth knowing where these pests may be hiding. Stored product insects can live in dried products such as:

  • Stored grain
  • Dried fruits
  • Milled and processed cereal products
  • Sweets
  • Cheese
  • Meat and any other dried food
  • Dry ginger
  • Dried fish

Have you spotted any of these signs?

If you are worried about stored grain insects, a professional service can help to get rid of pests in food effectively.

At Ehrlich, we have unmatched experience when it comes to protecting food clients. We take a three-phase approach that provides rigorous protection for your business. The three steps include:

  1. Reducing the probability of stored product pests entering the premises
  2. Regular vigilant inspections and monitoring
  3. Control using approved pesticides to prevent, manage and eliminate pests

Call us today at 800-837-5520 to find out how our professional solutions can help to keep your business safe from stored product insects.

Pests in food species

Ehrlich’s stored product pest management

Our management processes focus on three principal aspects to ensure the most effective solution to your pest problem. These cover the areas of Prevention, Inspection and Control.

Stored product insect prevention methods

Denying access to these stored product pests entering your premises should be the first line of defense.

High standards of hygiene and sanitation need to be maintained at all times throughout the year particularly in the warmer months when the temperature can expedite the development of stored insect pests.

  • Temperature control - If possible maintain storage facilities at or below 140 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity at 30% or less.
  • Ensure high standards of hygiene, sanitation and housekeeping practices are maintained. - Clean up all excess food material such as spillages, and dust accumulation in premises, machinery, equipment, storage and transport vehicles.
  • All stock / food material should be stored off the floor and away from walls to facilitate cleaning and inspections.
  • Keep raw materials in robust packaging - Keep raw materials in robust packaging - sufficiently robust and or airtight packaging can prevent infestation in all food facilities, such as food processing plants, warehouses, bakeries, storage areas, grain silos, and domestic premises.
  • Install tight fitting insect screens or screen doors - ensure that they are maintained in good condition.
  • Waste management - ensure that a policy of sealed bagging of all waste is in place; that waste skips are cleaned before delivery; and the skips are kept closed except when waste is being added. Cleaning of external drains, sumps and pits. Waste or spillage is a food source and these areas may be a harborage.

Vigilant inspections and monitoring

Stored insect pest infestations in premises can be confined to a small area such as a bag or pallet of raw material, however if left undetected infestations can disperse rapidly throughout the premises, therefore it is important that vigilant regular inspections and monitoring is an integral part of the management of stored insect pests.

  • Inspect incoming raw materials - Incoming stock should be inspected in an area away from the main storage area for any evidence of live pest activity. If found it should be immediately rejected and returned to the supplier.
  • Fit monitoring devices - Traps and lures must be widely used for monitoring and locating localized infestations inside premises. They also aid in providing information on the severity and type of species of an infestation as well as the effectiveness of treatments.
  • Use Stored Pest Insect Pheromone Pots - these pots and other glue trap lures must be installed in the premises. These also act as infestation monitors and when captured species reach specified count levels these will trigger specific treatment schedule procedures
  • Install light traps - in all internal areas of the premises to control and monitor flying insects. Commercial traps are available which utilize ultraviolet light to attract some but not all stored product pests. Data recorded can also help monitor stored product pests. Pheromone lures can be added to the trap.

  • In addition to our inspections we recommend that your staff also perform routine monitoring to ensure early detection of any pest problem.

Effective control using approved pesticides

If pest activity is found then control methods will involve either small isolated treatments or if the infestation is extensive and throughout the premises it may be necessary to treat the entire premises using space treatments.

Preventing product contamination is our number one priority. Some of the services we provide include:

  • Dusting - certain dusts can be used with pesticide properties. Some of these are mechanical in nature, which erode the cuticles of the insect causing desiccation.
  • Precision Spraying - Targeted spot crack and crevice treatments can be useful to arrest localized stored product pest occurrence in a structural environment. The success is dependent on adequate access and cleaning of loose or impacted residues. Only approved materials can be used with deference to preventing product contamination.
  • Auto-aerosol spraying devices - these devices dispense a measured dose of aerosol insecticide at timed intervals into the air. Only pyrethrum formulations should be used as these have low mammalian toxicity but are moderately effective against stored product pests. Experience shows location, reticulation design, distribution and maintenance are critical to achieve a useful effect.
  • Space sprayers - space treatment of a processing or storage environment with ultra low volume finely atomized droplets containing approved pesticides can be useful for containing and preventing cross infestation. Thermal or cold foggers (2-30 micron droplets) or in some cases misters (20-80 micron droplets) can be used to dispense aerosols of approved pesticide.
  • Exterior infestations - Where exterior infestations have been identified, it may be necessary to apply an approved insecticide treatment to insect activity sites outside buildings and storage facilities. Treatment of observed infestation with residual insecticide, can reduce stored product pests.
  • Fumigation - this the use of gaseous substances (fumigants) that are toxic to, and kill all life stages, of stored product pests in raw material or product. Fumigation must be done in gas proof enclosures to contain the gas for long enough to achieve mortality.
  • Controlled atmosphere - In some situations where a fumigant (gaseous substance) cannot be used infested raw material can be placed in large heat ovens, all stages of all insects are killed by heating the material to 140°F for 30 minutes.
  • Grain protectants - prevention and control of stored product insects must be considered from harvest through to storage and processing. Grain protectants involves the application of insecticidal dusts and sprays directly to grain while in storage or transportation such shipping vessels or in silos on farms and mills. Because most grains are used for human consumption there are strict guidelines that control the use of grain protectants. This can provide long-term protection, the application is based on the natural decline of the grain protectant (pesticide) residues to low levels during the transportation or storage of the grain, so that later it can be processed into edible foods
  • Call Ehrlich at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to see how our effective solutions can keep stored product insects out of your business.

Pests in food FAQs

What are the signs of stored product insects?

Common signs of food insects may include finding damage, adult insects (small moths or beetles), larvae, pupae or silken webbing on food storage bins on shelves or holes on the outside of packets and bags.

How to get rid of stored product pests in my home?

Infestations in your home can be contained quite easily by removing the source of the infestation in a manner that will not disperse the infestation and sealing all other susceptible food sources. Removal and cleaning of any crumbs and other food material that may have accumulated inside and under cupboards, shelving and in cracks and crevices.

How do I get rid of SPIs in my business?

Ehrlich’s solution for control of stored product insects follows three phases:

Reducing the probability that stored product pests enter the premises by implementing methods to discourage and exclude pests which includes high standards of sanitation and hygiene.

Regular vigilant inspections and monitoring of premises and incoming stock with the use of monitoring devices such as pheromone lures and traps.

Control using approved pesticides, fumigants or techniques utilizing controlled atmospheres such as high temperatures to prevent, manage and eliminate pests.

Learn more about how our stored product pest management can help to get rid of pests in food.

Do I need to dispose of any food that has insects?

Yes. In order to control insects within food, the infested food must be removed or destroyed in a manner that it will not disperse the infestation, and / or treated in a way that presents no hazards in its end use.

What types of pests in food are found in the U.S?

Pests in food, also known as Stored Product Insects (SPIs), covers a very large range of insect species. Some of these include:

Indian Meal Moth Plodia interpunctella

Almond Moth Cadra cautella

Tobacco Moth Ephestia elutella

Mediterranean Flour Moth Ephestia kuehniella

Rust-red Flour Beetle Tribolium castaneum

Confused Flour Beetle Tribolium confusum

Foreign Grain Beetle Ahasverus advena


Call Ehrlich at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to see how our effective solutions can keep stored product insects out of your business.

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Pests in food guide

Read more about the many different types of species that can be found in food across the U.S.