Bug-fix for stored grain

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1-866-345-7972
media.relations@agr.gc.ca

Canada has a reputation to uphold – that of supplying safe, high quality grain to the world.

Every year, bountiful harvests are transported and stored in granaries and grain elevators, usually near rail lines or ports, ready to be accessed as needed. To maintain the quality of the grain during transportation and storage, farm equipment, transport vehicles, and storage containers are sterilized, but constantly monitored to keep these grain stores dry and free of insects that degrade the grain.

With over 50 insect pests known to target stored grain in Canada, infestations happen. Knowing how to handle an infestation before it ruins grain is critical. The first step is identifying what insect you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, a lot of insects look alike and not everyone is an entomologist (aka a bug scientist).

"Insect pests of stored grain cause damage by directly feeding on the grain at some point in their lifecycle. They often develop and reproduce very quickly, causing considerable damage within a few months. One of the best ways to prevent insect infestations is to monitor stored grain every 2 weeks to detect early signs and start controls as soon as possible."

– Canadian Grain Commission website

When faced with an insect infestation, speed is critical. The faster an insect can be identified and managed, the greater the likelihood of preserving the grain and its quality.

Previously, an insect specimen would have to be caught and sent to an expert for identification, which could take days. More recently, a photo could be sent electronically, but photos don’t always capture the minute differences between insect species, particularly in those smaller than 5mm.

To speed up this process, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, and the University of Manitoba worked together to develop easy-to-use, high-resolution visual guides that allow non-experts to identify the most common adult insects found in stored grain. The English and French guides cover 14 primary insect pests and 20 secondary pests.

Users are shown images of dichotomous or paired characteristics and are prompted to choose the one that best describes what they have found. Each choice leads to another set of paired images on a different characteristic until the final pair of images identifies the insect species. A link leads to a factsheet with information about the species and provides information about effective control methods to wipe out the infestation.

These guides empower users to identify adult insects on-the-spot and start effective treatment immediately. Depending on the insect species, treatments can involve heating the grain to high temperatures, cooling the grain to below −5 degrees Celsius for 12 weeks, or applying insecticides like diatomaceous earth and carbon dioxide gas.

The guides are available on the mobile friendly Canadian Grain Commission website or as an English Apple app that can be found by searching Insects in Stored Grain. The app allows users to take notes, photos, and use GPS tracking to monitor insect migration. A French version of the app is in development.

Key benefits

  • Canadian grain has a global reputation for quality.
  • To help maintain that quality, easy-to-use visual guides help non-experts identify insect species on-the-spot.
  • The faster insect controls are started, the more effective they are, and the greater likelihood stored grain quality will be preserved.

Photo gallery

Paired Choice 1: Large or small size?
A description of this image follows.
Description of above image

Two images of grain kernels are shown side-by-side. In the left image, a brown beetle sits on the grain with a vertical white arrow to the right indicating it is 15 millimetres long. In the right image, seven beetles sit on individual grain kernels with a vertical white arrow to their right indicating each is less than 5mm long. Under each image, a blue "continue" box allows the user to select which image best matches the insect being identified.

Paired Choice 2: Snout or no snout?
A description of this image follows.
Description of above image

Two images are shown side-by-side. In the left image, the word "snout" is in white text with an arrow pointing to the snout on the head of a brown beetle. In the right image, the words "no snout" is in white text with an arrow pointing to the head of a brown beetle with no snout. Under each image, a blue "continue" box allows the user to select which image best matches the insect being identified.

Paired Choice 3: Lower body with orange brown spots or solid brown?
A description of this image follows.
Description of above image

Four images are shown. In the left image, a brown beetle with orange-brown spots on its lower body sits on a grain kernel. The blue box under the image says "continue to Rice weevil". In the right image, a brown beetle with a solid brown lower body sits on a grain kernel. The blue box under the image says "continue to Granary weevil".

Result: Factsheet on Granary weevil
A description of this image follows.
Description of above image

A factsheet for the Granary weevil gives information on the insect. A series of images on the right show detailed photos of different parts of the insect's body.

Related Information

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