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Beetles Infest Corn Necklace

By Chris Williams on November 6, 2012.

Question:

Powder Post BeetleI think I need a second opinion. I recently found a bunch of tiny beetles in my bedroom, mostly around the windowsill. A pest control company came out and said they were wood beetles and sprayed around the windowsill and the baseboards. Yesterday I found more of the beetles on a necklace on my dresser. The necklace is a cheap, dyed corn souvenir that I got in New Mexico except now the corn kernels have become powdery and broken. Could wood beetles be coming from the necklace?

Answer:

No, wood beetles would not be emerging from the corn necklace but other beetles that feed on stored foods could be. It would seem that your pest control company misidentified the pest. That’s unfortunate because, not only did they make a pesticide application to an uninfested site, but they did not find or correct the source of your infestation.

Granary WeevilThere are a number of small beetles that feed on and in dried stored grain products like corn, oats, even rice. They are small and dark and about the same size as a powderpost beetle which is probably what your technician thought he was dealing with. One group, the grain weevils, actually develop unseen inside corn kernels. The female deposits her eggs in kernels, usually in storage, and the larvae feed and develop inside the kernel. The infestation is not noticed until the adult weevil chews its way out of the kernel, leaving a round exit hole behind. If your beetles are grain weevils, they most likely infested the necklace before you bought it in New Mexico. But there are other beetles that can feed on the outside of the corn kernel and will feed on residue left by the weevils. These beetles could have infested the necklace, moving from foods in your kitchen.

First, place the necklace and any beetles you can find in a tightly sealed jar or zip lock bag. Then get a proper identification. Depending on what kind of beetle is involved, your problem may be solved by simply getting rid of the infested necklace. Weevils can only reinfest other whole grains, but other food beetles can infest a variety of processed foods. Your pest control technician should identify the beetles and then check your kitchen and pantry to make sure that the beetles or weevils have not also infested stored foods.

Corn necklaces are just one of the items that food beetles can infest that people don’t consider to be actual “food.” Other decorative items that can be infested by pantry pests are bean, seed, or macaroni mosaic pictures, strings of popcorn, gingerbread ornaments, papier mache (made with flour and water), even dried flowers. They’re all made of some type of dried or processed plant material.

You can learn more about stored product pests here.

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