Sawtooth Grain Beetles are a small brown to black beetle measuring 1/4 to 3/8th inches long when fully grown. They are among the most common of pantry and cabinet infesting beetles and are easily mistaken for RED FLOUR BEETLES or CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLES. However, upon closer inspection, most anyone can see the red and confused flour beetles are similar and the sawtooth is quite different.
The pronounced difference is the “saw like” teeth on either side of it’s thorax. With any amount of magnification one can see the teeth; a trained eye can see them by looking carefully at them in their hand.
SAWTOOTH BEETLE BIOLOGY *
Sawtooth beetles have been around as long as other flour beetles. Their history dates back several thousand years. This is due to the fact most ancient civilizations used flour as a primary food ingredient.
Sawtooth beetles thrive on flour dust though they will readily feed on just about anything found in the home intended for people or pets. Sawtooth beetles are cosmopolitan and can thrive in any part of the United States.
SAWTOOTH BEETLES IN THE HOME *
Once in the home, sawtooth beetles will readily feed on pet food, cereal, pasta, spices, rodenticide, dried fruit and vegetables, eggs of other insects, nuts, grass seed and just about anything which can provide nutrition.
Unlike other pantry pests, sawtooth beetles can find food which is well hidden and protected. Their strong chewing mouth parts will allow them access to food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. All they need is the scent of something worthwhile and they’ll make every attempt to find their way inside.
LIFE CYCLE OF SAWTOOTH BEETLES *
Sawtooth Grain Beetles live a long time. They have an average life span over 3 years which is quite long for an insect so small. Adult females will lay a few eggs daily which will amount to over 300 during her life. Eggs will hatch in a couple of weeks and start to feed immediately.
The feeding larva will go through 2-4 molts which will occur over a 3-5 week period. After they get their fill, the larvae will spin cocoon’s where they’ll disappear for awhile. During the pupa stage, they’ll morph and eventually emerge as adults when the cycle is complete.
All this will occur in less than 2 months which makes this species of Grain Beetle one of the fastest developing species we have as a nuisance pest in the home. And since they will readily eat anything, they will always find something good to eat.
HOW TO TREAT SAWTOOTH GRAIN BEETLES *
Whether they’re brought home in cereal, pet food or pasta, Sawtooth Beetles are a nuisance once in the home. Like most pantry pests, there are a few things which must be done to break their cycle once established. Here is an outline of what to do.
First, empty all your kitchen cabinets, shelves and closets where they’ve been seen or thought to exist. Food stuff which has them active must be discarded in sealed plastic bags. This will help contain them until the garbage is picked up.
If you are not sure if something is infested, store it in a plastic bag and check the bags every few days. If you find Sawtooth Beetles active, it will mean the item is infested and should be thrown away immediately.
Since this pest is temperature tolerant, don’t waste your time trying to “freeze” kill adults, eggs or larva. No doubt you’ll get the active stages. But many will survive fine and these will be able to continue the cycle.
Once food stuff which is thought to have activity is discarded, you’ll be ready to prepare for a treatment. But before you treat, vacuum all closets, shelves and baseboards. This will help remove eggs which are usually too small to see. Sawtooth Beetles lay eggs with a glue like excretion which helps to attach them to surfaces where food is typically available.
TREAT CABINETS FOR SAWTOOTH BEETLES *
Once everything has been removed from your cabinets and they’ve been vacuumed, proceed with a treatment. There are two good options for pantries and kitchen cabinets. The first option is FS MP AEROSOL. This fast acting, low odor aerosol is ideal for cracks, crevices and voids. It comes with a small straw so you can direct the spray exactly where its needed.
FS MP is fast acting and best for when you know where the problem is located. A single can will treat 2-3 rooms well.
The second option is PT-PHANTOM. This product is low odor too but overall, very different compared to FS MP. Phantom is what we call a “non repellent”. This means insects won’t be able to tell where its been applied. It’s slow acting too. If you spray a beetle directly, it won’t die. But this is by design. Basically Phantom will take 2-3 days to kill an insect. But during this delay, the contaminated beetle can spread the Phantom to others by transference. This means the Phantom will effectively kill many more than just the one or two which might walk over it. This feature makes Phantom a great option when the nest sight is not known.
Regardless of which aerosol you choose, be sure to let the treatment dry 1 hour before returning dishes and food stuff back into the cabinets.
BEST SAWTOOTH GRAIN BEETLE SPRAY *
For extensive problems that stretch into all areas of the home, you’ll be better served using a liquid. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored. These areas will be prime locations for Sawtooth Beetles to hide and nest so if you have a lot of home to cover or a warehouse or food processing plant, go with a liquid spray. It will be easier to use, more cost effective and longer lasting.
And one of the best concentrates for this beetle is DEFENSE SC. Its odorless, easily mixed with water and 1 gallon will cover up to 1,000 sq/ft. Defense can be applied to carpets and furniture too so its able to cover any problem areas.Both are concentrates so you’ll be mixing up what you need and be able to treat larger areas more cost efficiently and overall, more effective.
Add .38 to .75 oz of Defense per gallon of water and distribute this over 1,000 sq/ft of area (baseboards, carpeting, etc.).
Since sawtooth beetles will hide in tough to reach areas, add GENTROL IGR to your tank mix for added protection. Gentrol is a juvenile growth hormone regulator and will effectively stop developing larvae from reaching adulthood. This will be a big help if you want to solve the problem that much faster. The main reason for this added help is that Gentrol will naturally translocate. This enables it to impact beetles in areas you don’t directly spray. Unlike the Defense which stays where its applied, Gentrol is naturally volatile which enables it to move around. This movement is subtle and poses no hazard to people or animals. In fact Gentrol is nothing but a protein so it can’t impact mammals in any “bad” way. But once it moves onto walls, ceilings and surrounding surfaces, it will impact any bit of the problem you missed with the direct spray. Basically it expands the effective coverage of your treatment.
For sawtooth beetles, add 1 oz of Gentrol to the same gallon of water with the Defense and use the same exact way for up to 1,000 sq/ft of area.
You will need a good PUMP SPRAYER when applying the mixed spray and this sprayer will need to deliver the material onto baseboards, some carpeting, under furniture, in cabinets, under sinks, etc. and basically anywhere the beetles have been seen.
SAWTOOTH BEETLE TRAPS *
Once everything is treated and allowed to dry, install SAWTOOTH BEETLE CABINET TRAPS. These traps use strong pheromones and sexual attractants to lure foraging adults. They’re easy to set out and one trap per cabinet will suffice. The light brown liquid seen in the picture will be squeezed out into the triangular tray and placed discreetly in the corner. Traps will last 60-90 days but should be replaced if they fill up sooner.
Sawtooth beetles will fly or crawl into the holding tray and get caught on the thick oil.
Now for open areas, the XLURE BEETLE TRAP is better suited. This trap is quite durable. Its made with a hard plastic body and the inside chamber houses the special catching gel, food bait and sexual pheromones. Set one trap every 15-20 feet; placements can be made under furniture and in other hidden areas as well as out in the open. Don’t let the dog eat it; the components won’t hurt any pet but the plastic isn’t good for them to eat. Change the trap every 90 days if the activity is still active this long.
Sawtooth Grain Beetles can be a persistent pest once n the home. To break their life cycle, you’ll need to remove contaminated food and treat with the products listed above.
Lastly, set out traps in any cabinet, pantry or where activity has been noted. Keep the traps fresh so they will monitor the areas to insure the problem has been resolved.
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