Minimize Stored Grain Pest Problems With Bin Preparation and Treatments - Frequently Asked Questions

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 How can I keep grain beetles and other insects out of my stored grain?
Producers can minimize potential pest problems by cleaning up in and around grain bins during the summer. Most empty grain bins will have some form of insects or mites surviving on dust or grain. Before binning new grain, these bins need to be swept, or preferably vacuumed, out and debris either buried or burned.

Spilled grain, exposed to environmental moisture, can sustain populations of insects that could migrate into the bin later in the year. Cleaning up and removing any spilled grain can minimize future problems within bins. Grasses and weeds around grain bins can also harbour insect pests, so vegetation control around bins will also help prevent stored grain pest problems. These simple housekeeping practices may not eliminate all pest problems, but they will help reduce the potential threat of pest infestation.

Are there insecticides that can be used in empty grain bins?
Malathion can be sprayed in empty bins to control pests, but this can only be used prior to storing cereal crops and must not be used on bins that will be storing canola or pulses. Empty bins can be treated with diatomaceous earth products like Protect-It (R) or Insecto(R) prior to storing all grains. Follow product labels to ensure that these crop protection products are used properly.

What insecticides can be applied directly to grain going into storage?
Grain can be treated with either diatomaceous earth or malathion as it is being binned. Diatomaceous earth treatments can either be applied to grain going into storage, to the grain at the top of a bin as a barrier to insect migration after binning, or both to grain as it is being binned and the surface of the grain. Keep in mind that malathion must not be used on stored canola or pulse crops. Some buyers of malt barley and milling oats also do not want grain that has been treated with malathion so it is best to check with potential buyers of these grains before any insecticide application. In all cases where products are applied to grain, it is important to follow label instructions.

How does aeration affect grain pests?
Grain that is binned warm or tough is especially prone to stored grain pest problems. Aeration to cool the grain and remove some moisture is not only good for grain conditioning, but will also reduce the potential for insect problems. Grain that is binned under less than ideal conditions should be monitored regularly during fall and winter for signs of insect infestations.

For Additional Information
Using Protect-It(R) or Insecto(R)

To view information on using malathion, use the 2017 Crop Protection Guide and view the entry for malathion.

Prepared by Doon Pauly, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Harry Brook.
This document is maintained by Kathy Andersen.
This information published to the web on July 18, 2007.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 7, 2018.