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The Sawtooth Grain Beetle is a major pest of stored food products. It doesn’t fly and can be easily mistaken for Red Flour Beetles or Confused Flour Beetles. This beetle’s small size allows it to enter tiny cracks and infest broken grain kernels but normally won’t infest whole grain.
It has a keen sense of smell and strong chewing mouth parts that allow them to access food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. They will feed upon pet food, cereal, pasta, spices, rodenticide, dried fruit and vegetables, eggs of other insects, nuts, grass seed, nuts, spices, drugs, chocolate, and tobacco.
The Sawtooth Beetle is dark brown and about 1/8th inch long, with a flat body and six tiny projections on each side, just behind the head (on its thorax) that resemble the teeth of a saw. The female beetle deposits eggs in and around grain products (like flour).
It lays its eggs on foodstuffs at an average rate of about 8 per day, with totals over 350 per female in a lifetime. The eggs are deposited with glue like excretions, which helps to attach them to surfaces where food is likely to be available. The eggs will hatch in about 8 to 14 days and the larvae begin feeding immediately. They are usually found in top inch of the food source.
This Beetle lives a long time of up to 3 years and its fast developing. The total life cycle is 20-80 days at 18-37 °C (64-99 °F). Larva will go through 2-4 molts which will occur over 3-5 weeks. Pupa will emerge as adults in another couple of weeks and their cycle is complete.
Inspection and cleaning are key steps to eliminating this beetle. Empty cabinets and pantries and check every package. Throw away infested food. Vacuum the empty shelves and the entire storage closet to remove any insects and food particles. Inspected or new food need to be stored in tightly sealed glass or plastic containers. This pest is temperature tolerant, so unlike other panty pests, don’t waste your time trying to freeze adults, eggs or larva.
Insecticide application is the final step. The application should be made into cracks and crevices and caution needs to be use to avoid the application of pesticides on food serving trays,utensil, preparation areas, or any surface with comes into direct contact with food. The object is to eliminate any insects that might be hiding.
A licensed professional should be consulted to avoid misapplication of pesticides. Pantry spray and insecticides made with essential oils and natural ingredients are a good alternative to chemical pesticides.
Sawtooth Beetles are small, fast and quick to hide whenever people are around. It is best to treat every cabinet since many of these insects will go unnoticed. Once the cabinets and pantry areas have been treated, you may have to treat other areas of the home if activity has been noted. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored are prime locations for Sawtooth Beetles to reside.