Low pressure applied to a commodity creates a low-oxygen atmosphere that can be effective to control stored-product insects. Previous work determined that eggs of several species of stored-product insects were among the most tolerant life stages to low pressure. The current study was conducted to determine the mortality of eggs in response to various pressures, temperatures, and exposure times. An initial experiment determined that the sensitivity of eggs to vacuum varied with their age. Eggs of Plodia interpunctella (Hübner) were most sensitive to low pressure when they were 3 or 48 h old, whereas those of Rhyzopertha dominica (F.) were most sensitive at 12 and 120 h of age. In subsequent experiments, eggs of Cadra cautella (Walker), P. interpunctella, R. dominica, and Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) were exposed to pressures of 50, 75, 100, 200, and 300 mmHg in glass chambers at 5, 15, 22.5, 30, and 37.5°C for times ranging from 12 to 168 h. Time-mortality data were subjected to probit analyses and lethal dose ratios were computed to determine differences in lethal time values among species across the 25 low pressure-temperature combinations for each species. In all four species the mortality of eggs increased with increasing exposure time and temperature. Low temperatures and high pressures were the least effective conditions for killing eggs, compared with high temperatures combined with low pressures in all species investigated. These results provide important guidelines for developing treatment schedules for disinfestation of commodities on a commercial scale.
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Vol. 97 • No. 2