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Increasing international insect threat to stored food

08/04/04

Increased international trade means the world community will have to more vigilant in preventing economic loss and hardship due to destruction and spoilage of foodstuffs by insects, according to CSIRO entomologist David Rees.

Increased international trade means the world community will have to more vigilant in preventing economic loss and hardship due to destruction and spoilage of foodstuffs by insects, according to CSIRO entomologist David Rees.

Public health officials, quarantine workers, farmers and scientists around the world will have to pay greater attention to preventing infestations in stored foodstuffs and animal products.

Insects are widely known to attack not just stored grains but wool carpets, corks in wine bottles, dried fish, chocolate, savoury biscuits, dog biscuits, dried baby food, cakes, paper, clothing, hides and skins.

"A box of chocolates containing a single moth larva is worse than worthless," Mr Rees says. "It may result in a fine from the environmental health department, negative publicity and lost consumer trust in a brand, and legal action."

Mr Rees says that the introduction of an insect to poor farming areas of Africa is responsible for destroying stored grains and causing widespread hunger.

"Since the early 1980's, the poorest farmers of sub-Saharan Africa have had to cope with the relentless spread of the larger grain borer, a pest inadvertently introduced from the Americas," he says. "Its recent arrival in Africa has caused considerable additional hardship for many communities."

Dr Rees is a post-harvest entomologist with more than 20 years' experience working with stored product insects in a wide range of storage systems from subsistence agriculture to the most modern bulk handling facilities.

He is the author of a new illustrated guide to the world of these pests, Insects of Stored Products, which has been released through CSIRO Publishing. The book enables specialists and non-specialists to identify the major pests of stored products found throughout the world.

"Controlling these insects often means dealing with an invisible enemy and to succeed, it's vital to know what the insect is and about its ecology," Mr Rees says. "Some insects are especially difficult to control but they all have a niche in their armoury that can be exploited."

The book describes how to identify each pest group or species and summarises the latest information on their biology, ecology, geographical distribution, the damage they cause and their economic importance. Hundreds of colour photographs illustrate the identifying features of the most important beetles, moths, psocids, bugs and wasps found in stored products.

"This book will prove to be very useful in international trade where incursions of exotic pests pose considerable risks to future marketing of stored durable commodities," says Mr Colin Waterford, Leader of CSIRO Entomology grains research team. "This is especially true in Australia, where a number of economically important exotic insect pests of stored products continue to be successfully excluded through our strict quarantine procedures."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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