Feeding by stored product insects leads to millions of dollars in losses to agricultural commodities after they are harvested from the field in the United States and throughout the world. While human-aided movement of infested commodities greatly facilitates the dispersal of these insects and is the primary cause of infestations in many grain and food facilities, these insects are often found in other landscapes, including agricultural fields, tallgrass prairies, and even wooded areas. It is not known whether the insects found in these natural areas can serve as source populations for nearby elevators and food facilities, what food resources these insects use in these other landscapes, or if insects found in these natural landscapes could potentially vector mycotoxin-producing microbes that could be inoculated onto raw grain or finished products. The overall objectives of this project are to a) monitor stored product insect activity in three types of landscapes native tallgrass prairie, agricultural areas where wheat and corn are grown, and locations where grain is stored after harvest; b) perform population genetic analysis to determine if insects at these locations interact with each other; c) perform molecular gut content analysis using plant-specific primers to determine what these insects are consuming and d) culture microbes from the cuticles of these insects and identify them using morphological and molecular approaches to determine whether these insects are physically associated with any mycotoxin producing microbes.
Trapping Stored Product Insects in Natural and Agricultural Landscapes
Scully E D
University of Alaska