House pantry insect checks helps WA grain growers preserve entry to export markets

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Western Australia biosecurity authorities have launched the annual Pantry Blitz, asking the public to monitor their food cabinets for insects and provide data that will help the local grain industry access overseas markets.

Important points:

  • WA Biosecurity Authorities are seeking public help in monitoring exotic pests
  • People can install traps in their pantry to report what they find
  • The information helps grain exporters gain access to overseas markets

The Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD) is asking people across the state to sign up for Pantry Blitz 2021. After that, they will set a trap and lure you.

“Once this gets in the mail, set it up in your pantry and follow the directions,” said Rosalie McCauley, manager of the DPIRD Grains Biosecurity Planning project.

“Then the first step is to send us an initial report and then we ask for a report once a week for four weeks.

“We calculated it would take about half an hour to get all of these reports ready for us.”

A mango seed that has been destroyed by the weevil and can cost farmers dearly. ((

Delivered: DAFWA

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While researchers are interested in all of the reports, they are particularly concerned about the detection of exotic pests.

“The concern is that if we got an exotic pest spreading from the metropolitan area to our grain growing area, it would mean our grain farmers would have to treat their products before they can sell them. So that’s an additional cost.” “Said Dr. McCauley.

“The other really big risk is that other countries in the world don’t want these pests either, and if they know we have them, they could create barriers to trade in our products.”

Public to report strange insects

The pantry reports are sent via a free app that employees can use to report other issues to the department.

“We hope that once you have the app on your phone, you’ll keep an eye out for other things you see,” said Dr. McCauley.

“That includes weeds you’ve never seen before, insects, diseases – things like that look a little strange to you. We’d love it if people would take pictures and send them to us.”

A farmer holds a handful of grain with a paddock in the background WA grain growers rely on the reputation of exotic, pest-free products for access to export markets. (

ABC Rural: Jon Daly

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In previous pantry flashes, weevils, moths, cockroaches, ants, flies, and silverfish were the most commonly reported insects.

“What we found earlier is that the most common pest found in pantries is the Indian moth,” said Dr. McCauley.

“It’s those annoying moths that one day you open your pantry and your pantry is full of moths flying around.”

Competent help in pest removal

For people who find and report unwanted insects, DPIRD sends information on how to deal with insects and how to avoid further infestation in the pantry.

But Dr. McCauley says the common pantry insects aren’t a cause for concern.

“The important thing is that all of these pests are pests that we know are in Western Australia,” she said.

“What we really hope not to find are exotic pests.”

A number of household items in jars in a pantry Most pantries have no insects at all, but these reports are still valuable to the authorities. ((

ABC News: Gian De Poloni

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The idea of ​​finding insects in your pantry may sound embarrassing, but it doesn’t reflect a person’s household ability.

“The standard thing is that you unknowingly bought a stored grain product and didn’t know there might be a tiny egg in it,” said Dr. McCauley.

“When it arrives in your pantry, everything in there will slip out of the food and suddenly you have a pest in your pantry.

“If you find a bug in your pantry, it doesn’t mean your pantry is dirty, it just means that you somehow have a bug in it.”

No bug reports particularly welcome

Dr. McCauley had firsthand experience of discovering a surprising insect.

“What really bothered me last time, in the last pantry Blitz … I found a cigarette bug,” she said.

“How did that happen? I was totally amazed and only found one.”

Close up of the brown beetle The cigarette beetle is primarily a stored tobacco pest and an unlikely pantry pest.

Delivered: DPIRD

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However, some of the key reports come from participants who found no intruders in their pantries at all.

“We have over 1,000 people excited about this project and the vast majority will not find anything in their pantry,” said Dr. McCauley.

“But we really want to see these pest-free reports because all of these reports help us show our trading partners that we don’t have any exotic pests.”