The sawtoothed grain beetle, Oryzaephilus surinamensis (L.), is an important pest of packaged consumer foods, yet little is known of its behavioral response to food odors. Adults and larvae are not believed to chew holes through packaging materials, but they may invade packaged food by entering through openings caused by improper sealing or handling, through holes intentionally placed in packages by the manufacturer, or through openings made by insects or other organisms. To better understand the mechanism of infestation of packaged foods by the sawtoothed grain beetle, we determined how food odor coming through the surface and through holes in consumer food packaging materials influences female sawtoothed grain beetle movement. Mated female beetles responded with an area-concentrated search to the odor of dog food emitted from 0.5-mm-diameter holes punctured in two commonly used food packaging materials (Cello and 120 AB-X). Holes emitting no food odor did not influence beetle behavior. Velocity and distance moved differed between film types, perhaps because of surface characteristics of the film influencing traction, but no influence of food odors coming through the films was detected. This study indicates the necessity for improved package designs and better sealing and handling methods to prevent flaws in packaging through which insects may enter.
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