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Insects that lurk in your food

Insects that lurk in your food

We are all aware that insects are attracted to food and some of us have also experienced insects in our food. We did so either at our homes or while eating out in restaurants or pubs. These insects range from ants to flies to cockroaches. These insects are relatively easy to spot because of their size. However, there are a few insects that are difficult to spot owing to their tiny size. Many of these insects spend almost their entire life inside the food of their preference. These insects are known as stored product insects (SPIs).

Stored product insects:

Moths: They belong to Lepidoptera’ category. This category has around 180,000 species of butterflies and moths. Only 30 of these are stored product insects (SPIs). The larvae has biting mouthparts but the adult moths have no such parts. They only feed on liquid food by sucking. The larvae can eat solid food because of their biting mouthparts. They can as well chew through the packaging of food. The winged moths are the most mobile. They fly and lay eggs over their suitable food choices.

Mites: Mites along with contaminating food also cause allergic reactions. They are closely related to spiders and ticks. Some of the mites are also beneficial for food even though the rest of them infest food.

Food eaten by stored-product insects:

The stored product insects can infest various types of food be it dried, organic or preserved. These can include nuts, grains, cheese or cereals. The insects are classified according to the food they infest on-

The insects with similar habits can be classified into the following ways. This is also in accordance with the manner they infest the stored products. There are some insects that come in two or more categories because they feed on multiple foods.

Whole grain pests-

These pests have the potential of destroying food in large amounts. Huge quantities of grains can be damaged at once by these pests. The type of pests that come under this category are:

Rice Weevil, Sitophilus oryzae

Southern cowpea weevil

Khapra beetle, Trogodermagranarium

Cadelle, Tenebroidesmauritanicus

Red flour beetle

Granary Weevil, Sitophilus granaries

Broken grain pests

The pests under this category feed on processed products, flour, cereals, broken grain and dried plants. These pests are commonly found in homes and grocery stores. It is quite obvious that there will be some broken grains in the grain store and at homes. So these pests can also be easily found in containers containing unprocessed whole grains. Some of the pests under this category are:

Yellow Mealworm

Indian meal Moth

Siamese Grain Beetle

Australian Spider Beetle

Confused Flour Beetle

Meat and cheese pests

As you might have already guessed, these pests infest on meat and cheese whether preserved or processed. They breed in birds or their nests, dead rodents and sometimes hide in carpets in the homes. Often, these pests are used to clean the animal skeletons in the museums. Some of these pests are:

Hide Beetle

Larder beetle

Red-legged Ham Beetle

Black Larder Beetle

You might not be able to realize when your food is infested with pests because of the tiny insect bites. It can be quite unsettling. So why not always be on the lookout to keep the all of the food items as safe as possible?


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