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Common Name

Maize Weevil

Scientific Name

Sitophilus zeamais

1/8- to 3/16-inch long .The
maize weevil is similar to the
rice weevil, but larger Accessed
26 September 2007.
Very similar in appearance to
the Rice Weevil with
characteristics described above,
except that the insects are
longer, adults reaching a length
of 3-3.5mm

The reddish markings on the wing covers are more clearly defined.


The maize weevil is a small snout beetle which varies in size, averaging
about three thirty-second inch in length. It varies from dull red-brown to
nearly black and is usually marked on the back with four light reddish or
yellowish spots. The maize weevil has fully developed wings beneath its
wing covers and can fly readily. The thorax is densely pitted with somewhat
irregularly shaped punctures, except for a smooth narrow strip extending
down the middle of the dorsal (top) side. An egg hatches in a few days into a
soft, white, legless, fleshly grub which feeds on the interior of the grain
kernel. The grub changes to a naked white pupa and later emerges as an
adult beetle. The rate of development is slightly slower for the maize weevil
than for the rice weevil. A minimum of thirty days is required for passing
through the egg, larval and pupal stages.
The maize weevil is slightly larger than the rice weevil and has more distinct
colored spots on the forewings. It is a stronger flier than the rice weevil. The
habits and life cycle are similar to the rice weevil.


Maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky, is a cosmopolitan pest of

stored products (Longstaff 1981), and prior to the introduction of the larger
grain borer, Prostephanus truncatus, it was reported as the most important
pest on stored maize in Africa.
Sitophilus zeamais is the dominant species on maize


Minimum Life Cycle: 28 days

Eggs - Laid in stored cereal grains and in cereals in the field by flying adults
(more prolific than granary weevil).
Larvae - Feed in grain.
Adults - Also feed; normally cannot over winter in temperate areas unless
grain heats. Good flyer; larger than rice weevil.


Weevils were shown to carry significant A. flavus contamination, as well as F.

moniliforme and P. islandicum and others.
Dry maize is not for human consumption but for animal feed and export.
Because of problems with aflatoxin contamination and insect infestation,
recent crops have met with reduced prices

Maize weevils carried a great collection of other fungi including A. niger, A.

glaucus, A. candidus, Penicillium islandicum, P. citrinum, Paecilomyces,
Acremonium, Epicoccum, F. semitectum, yeasts and many others.
Type of damage

These weevils are very destructive grain pests. Of the three, the rice weevil
is probably the most insidious, owing largely to the ability of flight. All three
weevils develop as larvae within the grain kernels. They frequently cause
almost complete destruction of grain in elevators or bins, where conditions
are favourable and the grain is undisturbed for some length of time. Infested
grain will usually be found heating at the surface, and it may be damp,
sometimes to such an extent that sprouting occurs. Wheat, corn, macaroni,
oats, barley, sorghum, Kaffir seed, and buckwheat are just some of the
grains and products on which these weevils feed.
The weevil (presumably) chews a small hole in the seed and lays an egg in
the resulting cavity. The larva bores throughout the seed and pupates there,
the adult emerging after it has matured.
Corn is a favorite host of the maize weevil, and can become infested in the
field as well as in storage. The weevil (presumably) chews a small hole in the
seed and lays an egg in the resulting cavity. The larva bores throughout the
seed and pupates there, the adult emerging after it has matured. Like many
other stored grain pests, Sitophilus species tolerate or prefer low moisture
levels in their food.

Sources /

This weevil is a cosmopolitan pest of grain, preferring whole grain to flour or

The larva is dormant for four to five months during the winter in colder
climates. There are generally four to five generations per year, although in
heated warehouses there may be as many as 10 to 12 generations.
Weevils can be found infesting a variety of grain and food materials. They
attack all cereal grains, however are
most often found in corn, oats, barley, rye, and wheat.
They cannot breed in finely processed grain but will readily breed in
manufactured products such as macaroni, noodles and milled cereals that
have become caked from excessive moisture.
Rice and Maize Weevils are widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical
areas and will be carried to temperate areas on imported commodities. The
Maize Weevil will breed on maize in the field.



The only way to control these pests is fumigation.

Since it is an internal pest, residual control will only kill

Exposed adults. To kill the internal stages (larval and pupal), you
must fumigate. Heating grain to 60C can kill larvae; however, this
may decrease germination and baking quality of flour.

Prevention is the best strategy; but if resistance is suspected, first eliminate

other possible causes. In many instances, lack of control can be attributed to
application error, equipment failure or less-than-optimal environmental
conditions. If these possibilities have been eliminated, work with local
agricultural advisors and the manufacturer to confirm resistance to the
compound applied. In the event of a control failure due to resistance, do not
respray with an insecticide of the same chemical class.
Prevention is the best strategy to avoid insect problems in stored grains.
Proper bin sanitation before introduction of new grain minimizes the need for
pesticides. Good sanitation involves the removal of old grain and dust in and
around the grain bin. This includes removal of old grain from corners, floors,
and walls and grain that may have spilled on the exterior of the bin. Any
grain remaining when a bin is emptied can harbor insect infestations which
will move into the new grain.
After the bin is cleaned, and all needed
repairs have been made, the floor and wall
surfaces both inside and outside the bin
should be treated. Take special care to treat
all cracks, crevices, and areas around
doorways and other places where insects
could hide or enter. Spray the bins about four
to six weeks prior to storing grain.
Before grain is placed in a bin, it should be
screened to eliminate fine materials and
broken kernels. Grain placed in a clean bin
should be checked at two week intervals
during warm months and at one month
intervals during cooler months for the
presence of hotspots, moldy areas, and live
insects. If any of these conditions exist, the
grain should be aerated to lower the moisture level and temperature.
Grain that is to be stored for longer than six months may need a protective
application of an approved insecticide. Treatments can be applied as the
grain is loaded into the bin through the use of a metering device calibrated to
apply the proper amounts. After the grain is binned and leveled, a surface
dressing can be applied to prevent insects from entering the grain on the
surface. If infestation occurs in spite of these precautions, fumigation of the
grain will be necessary. Because of the high toxicity of registered fumigants

and technical knowledge needed for their proper use, a qualified pesticide
applicator should be contacted to perform the fumigation.


The only way to control these pests is fumigation.

Since it is an internal pest, residual control will only kill exposed adults. To kill
the internal stages (larval and pupal), you must fumigate. Heating grain to
60C can kill larvae, however, this may decrease germination and
baking quality of flour.
If you dry corn in the field, the corn will become infested with maize
weevils, says Extension agricultural engineer Paul Sumner. Once a weevil
feeds on an ear of corn it'll emit a pheromone which will attract other maize
weevils to that area. They subsequently lay eggs in the mature kernels, and
adult weevils emerge within 2-3 weeks. By delaying harvest in the field,
growers allow a second infestation of weevils in the corn, says Sumner. It's
going to occur anyway in our part of the country. Do you leave corn in the
field and let it dry, or do you harvest it after it has field dried? Then, do you
store it or sell it immediately?
If you plan on storing corn, then you'll have to place some insecticide on it to
prevent a regular occurring infestation of weevils inside the storage bin, he


The simplest and most effective measure is to locate the source of

infestation and quickly get rid of it. Use a flashlight or other light source to
examine all food storage areas and food products carefully. If practical and
regulations allow, dispose of heavily infested foods in wrapped, heavy plastic
bags or in sealed containers for garbage removal, or bury deep in the soil. If
you detect an infestation early, disposal alone may solve the problem.
Storage of grains for a month or more during the warm, summer months may
lead to infestations. Purchase grains in small quantities for early use, and
store in containers of insect-proof glass, heavy plastic, or metal with screwtype, airtight lids. For longer storage, refrigerate or deep freeze.
At the time of purchase, carefully examine whole grains, such as wheat,
oats, rye, buckwheat, barley, corn, rice, birdseed, nuts, table beans, etc. for
weevil infestations. Especially check grains purchased from grain storage
facilities, processing plants, and stores. Fortunately, all stages of these
weevils can be killed easily by super heating or cooling. Heat in a shallow
pan in the oven at 120 degrees F for 1 hour or at 130 degrees F for 30
minutes, place in a deep freeze at 0 degrees F for 4 days, or heat in the
microwave for 5 minutes. However, seeds saved for planting may have the

germination reduced by super heating, cooling, or microwave methods.

Properly ventilate the storage area to discourage these moisture-loving
stored product pests. Be sure to store only clean, dry grain with a moisture
content of 12 percent or less to reduce weevil problems.


The use of insecticides is discouraged around food materials. Insecticides

are supplementary to sanitation and proper storage. Household insecticides
have no effect on insects within food packages. For extra protection, some
treat seeds or grains before storage with dusts or sprays of synergized
pyrethrins, labelled for this use. (Follow label directions and safety
precautions.) If the problem becomes severe and widespread, contact a
reputable, licensed pest control operator who has the training, experience,
equipment, and insecticides to get the control job accomplished safely.


Corn research targets maize weevil

Apr 10, 2002Paul L. Hollis Farm Press Editorial Staff | Southeast Farm Press



Post-harvest corn storage research is making progress in areas such as battling the
maize weevil, says University of Georgia Extension entomologist Steve L. Brown.
We've completed three years of data on maize weevil infestation in the field, says
Brown. Maize weevil is the key pest of stored corn in grain bins, but the weevil
infests corn in the field before we've even harvested the crop.

Maize weevil infestation is the source of many problems in stored corn, he adds.
We're putting infested corn in our bins after harvest. We conducted a three-year
study to find out what affected those infestation levels in the field, and we learned
that hybrids can make a difference in the level of maize weevil infestation we see in
We haven't tested every hybrid, and we can't tell yet which hybrid is the best and
which is the worst, but we're making progress in that area. We do think that husk
coverage is a key, and we think kernel hardness has an impact, says Brown.
Many hybrids are bred for maize weevil conditions, he says, but not the conditions
that are found in south Georgia and other parts of the Southeast.
We need to learn which of these hybrids are most susceptible to maize weevil
infestation so we can avoid them, he says.
Planting dates also can be important in the level of maize weevil infestation, notes
Brown. Corn planting dates have an impact on when maize weevils move into a field
and infest corn. But in our three-year study, we saw different results in each of the
three years.
In each of the three years, we used three or four different planting dates, and we got
a statistical difference each time. This tells us that this will be a difficult component
to manage, says the entomologist.
Timely harvest is another important aspect of managing maize weevil infestations,
says Brown. If we leave corn in the field too long, we're setting ourselves up for
problems. We need to be harvesting at 22 to 24-percent moisture. If we get below
that range, we're creating ideal conditions for maize weevils. The longer you leave
corn in the field, the worse your problems will be.
The maize weevils are completing one cycle and emerging from the corn and laying
more eggs. If you're storing corn, you need to get it out before maize weevils infest it.
Maize weevils are laying their eggs as early as the three-fourths milk line, and they
peak about four weeks later.
Another area of focus for corn storage research has been on fumigation, says Brown.
We rely a great deal in the small grain industry on aluminum phosphide, and

products like Fumiphos and Phostoxin. I don't know of any other industry that relies
so much on one chemical.
I wish we could get rid of it because it's dangerous. But growers in the Southeast
would be in a lot of trouble with managing insects in stored grain if we didn't have
this product. In the recent past, the EPA threatened to remove the product from the
market. Fortunately, we were able to keep it, at least for the short-term.
Brown expects a new label at any time for aluminum phosphide products. With this
new label, we'll have to make changes in how we use this product. One change is that
private applicators will have to receive special training before using the product. In
the past, you could buy the product with your private applicator permit and apply it
without special training. That, however, will change, and growers will be required to
receive training.
Extension personnel and researchers have conducted training throughout Georgia in
the areas of aerating, sanitizing and fumigating.
It's very important that growers know how to properly seal grain bins, he says.
That appears to be a big problem growers are not taking the time to seal grain
bins before fumigating. Throwing a few aluminum phosphide tablets in the bin will
kill a few insects on top, but it won't get the ones down deep in the bin. With just a
couple of hours of work, we could seal the grain bin and get thorough kill throughout
the bin.
Many growers believe, he says, that they have about 30 minutes after placing
aluminum phosphide tablets before they need to get out of the bin. But tests have
shown differently, he adds.
We don't have near that much time. Using electronic sensors, we've found that
depending on temperature and humidity you might have as few as five to 10
minutes before you can get into trouble.
Other research, says Brown, has looked at the use of diatomaceous earth as a
protestant for stored grain. Diatomaceous earth, he explains, has been available for
some time. It consists of single-cell organisms found in old ocean bottoms, and it can

be mined from the earth. It affects insects to the point to where they lose water and
start to dry out, he says.
The product, he says, comes in powder form in a 15-pound box. It can be applied into
a grain bin in several ways, including with an air hose. It's a relatively inexpensive
product. You can treat a 2000-bushel grain bin for $10. Our research results have
been encouraging. We've tried three different application methods and all three
prevented the peak of maize weevils.
Researchers, says Brown, are pushing the implementation of a proven technique that
will help growers get the maximum use from their fumigants. Closed-loop
fumigation is a circulation system, he says.
With closed-loop fumigation, you're not relying on the fumigant to find its way
through the grain bin on its own. You're constantly circulating the fumigant
throughout the grain bin. This technique is much more effective in big bins 50,000
to 100,000 bushel-bins. It's relatively inexpensive to set up, with some initial costs.
Many growers, says Brown, don't realize how much loss can occur after a corn crop is
harvested and placed into a grain bin. Long-range, we want to improve the image of
Southeastern grain in the United States and world markets. At the same time, we
want to make stored grain management safer for growers.


Weevils: Facts, Identification & Control

What Are Weevils?
Weevils are actually beetles. Most belong to the family Curculionidae. There are more species in
this family than in any other beetle group. Scientists estimate that there are over 1,000 species of
Curculionidae in North America.
Weevil species occur in a wide range of colors and body shapes. Many are slender or ovalshaped insects. Depending on the species, weevils range in size from about 3 mm to over 10 mm
in length. They are usually dark-coloredbrownish to black. Some have scales or shiny hairs
covering part of their bodies. The most distinctive feature of weevils is the shape of their head. An
adult weevil has an elongated head that forms a snout. The mouth is at the end of the snout.
Some weevils have a snout that is as long as the body. Another family of beetles called

Bruchidae, such as the cowpea weevil, have a different appearance from the typical weevil. They
lack the elongated snout found in the Curculionidae.

What Do Weevils Eat?

Weevils feed on plants in the larval stage and as adults. Some weevils can be very destructive to
crops. For many years, one of the most destructive weevils was the cotton boll weevil. The black
vine weevil, Otiorhychus sulcatus (F.), is found in many parts of the United States. It feeds on a
variety of plants, including hemlocks and rhododendrons.
Most weevils are found in fields, gardens or orchards. A few weevils attack stored grains and
seeds. They can be very destructive, and their damage is often very expensive. The most
common stored product weevils are the rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae (L.), the granary
weevil, Sitophilus granarius(L.), and the cowpea weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus (F.).
However, a few weevils become structural pests. These are the weevils that upset homeowners
because they invade homesoften in great numbers. Some of them invade in the fall. They hide
during the winter and leave in the spring. Others invade in the summer when the weather starts
turning hot.

Weevil Life Cycle

Life cycle of weevils depends greatly on the species. For some, in spring, the adult weevils lay
their eggs on the ground near the host plant. When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the
ground and feed on the roots. Since the larvae are underground, people seldom see them.
Many of the larvae spend the winter in the ground and emerge as adults the following spring.
However, the adults that emerge during the summer or fall may invade homes for shelter. Some,
like the Asiatic oak weevil, are attracted to light, so they are drawn to homes at night. Others may
be attracted by the warmth from the house.

Weevil Control
Homeowners might not notice weevils when they are gathered on the outside of the home. But if
the weevils manage to find an opening and invade the home, the homeowner often finds
hundreds of insects crawling on the walls and windowsills. A vacuum cleaner is a quick way to
remove weevils from the walls and furniture. Be sure to take the vacuum outside to empty it so
the weevils dont reinfest the home.
If weevils havent invaded, there is time for some prevention. Check outside for any openings that
weevils could use to get inside. Look around doors and windows for missing caulk and damaged
weather stripping. Check attic vents and crawl space vents for torn screens.
Most likely, homeowners seeing weevils are dealing with the stored product species. The most
important control methods are to find the infested material and eliminate it. Careful inspection of
items before purchasing can help prevent getting a new infestation. Products with holes or signs
of damage on the packaging should not be purchased.
The Orkin Man can help homeowners manage weevils. He will use Orkins exclusive A.I.M.
systemAssess, Implement and Monitor. He will design a treatment plan for your homes
situation. By focusing on the source of the problemoutside or inside of the homehe will be
able to help keep weevils from invading again.

When weevils invade, they can come in large numbers. Homeowners often feel more
confidentcalling the local Orkin branch office to get The Orkin Man to help get weevils out of
their home and keep them out.

Types of Weevils
Boll WeevilThe boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) is a type of beetle that is known to cause
severe damage to cotton crops. The boll weevil measures an average length of 6 mm. It feeds on
the buds and flowers of the cotton plant.
Flour WeevilWherever flour is present, the beetle known as the flour weevil (Family
Tenebrionidae) follows. They are not able to feed on whole grains. These beetles are not actually
Rice WeevilWhile it is true that the rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae) is harmless in itself, it hurts
human beings on a larger magnitude by compromising food supplies. What it lacks in stinging or
biting, it makes up for in causing destruction on a potentially massive scale.
Bean Weevil is the scientific name of The bean weevil (Acanthoscelides obtectus) the farmers
scourge. Technically, they belong to the cadre of seed beetles and are not true weevils.
Wheat WeevilCommonly called the granary weevil, the wheat weevil (Sitophilus granarius)
holds notoriety for its destructive potential in agriculture. Historically, it is known as one of the
most formidable pests.
Black Vine WeevilsThe black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) is believed to be another
species that migrated to the United States.
Rose WeevilThe rose weevil (Merhynchites bicolor) is a serious threat to all horticulturists. Its
snout can drill through flower buds. These weevils cause irreparable harm by feeding on petals.
White Pine WeevilThe white pine weevil (Pissodes strobi) is a pest that infests pine and spruce
Cowpea WeevilTrue to its name, this pest infests cowpeas and stored soybeans. Cowpea
weevils (Callosobruchus maculatus) lay eggs on the stored beans that they eat, and the larvae
use the beans as food while they develop.

Weevil Traps

Traps are a very convenient way to monitor for weevils.

Weevil traps come in a variety of styles and they can be used in several ways.
Many weevil traps use pheromone to attract any weevils that are in the area. The
pheromone is a scent that is similar to a scent that the weevils produce naturally.
The smell of the pheromone tricks weevils into gathering at the trap.

Since many weevils attack plants, farmers often use weevil traps in their fields.
The traps tell the farmers when weevils are invading the fields. The farmers only
need to apply insecticide when the weevil population gets large enough to cause
damage to the crop. This reduces the cost of growing the crop and avoids
unnecessary insecticide applications.
The cotton boll weevil eradication program uses weevil traps in cotton fields.
There are also traps for pecan weevils, plum curculios, white pine weevils and
other crop-damaging weevils.
Traps for stored product weevils also use pheromones. These traps attract rice
weevils, granary weevils and the various bean weevils. These traps are used in
grain storage facilities, warehouses, grocery stores and food processing plants.
The weevils that invade homes come to find shelter during harsh weather. When
they invade, they often come in great numbers. Many homeowners use a
vacuum cleaner to remove large numbers of weevils from the walls and
windowsills. However, some of the weevils find hiding places.
The Orkin Man uses Orkins exclusive A.I.M. solutionAssess, Implement and
Monitor. The A.I.M. solution creates a plan for your homes unique situation.
Weevil traps are effective tools to monitor for weevil activity but will not control a
weevil infestation. The Orkin Man can use additional tools to help get rid of
weevils and help keep them out of your home.
The Orkin Man places traps in the weevil hiding places. The traps can go
behind appliances and in cabinets.
After the initial weevil infestation is gone, The Orkin Man can use traps to
monitor for new weevil invasions. The traps will also show if any other pests have
made their way into your home. For more information or to schedule an
inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Research looks at controlling maize weevils in stored corn

May 5, 2005Paul

Hollis | Southeast Farm Press


Controlling maize weevils in stored corn is the focus of ongoing research being
conducted by entomologists and engineers with the University of Georgia.
"If you dry corn in the field, the corn will become infested with maize weevils," says
Extension agricultural engineer Paul Sumner. "Once a weevil goes to an ear of corn
to the kernel it'll emit a pheromone which will attract other maize weevils to
that area. They subsequently lay eggs in the mature kernels, and adult weevils
emerge within three to four weeks."
By delaying harvest in the field, growers allow a second infestation of weevils in the
corn, says Sumner. "It's going to occur anyway in our part of the country. Do you
leave corn in the field and let it dry, or do you harvest it after it has field dried? Then,
do you store it or sell it immediately?"
If you plan on storing corn, then you'll have to place some insecticide on it to prevent
a regular occurring infestation of weevils inside the storage bin, he says. Among the
insecticides available are Actellic, which is applied at 9.2 to 12.3 ounces per 30 tons
of material. The translates into about six cents per bushel, says Sumner.
Researchers have looked at several different methods of drying corn, says Sumner,
including layer and bin drying and batch and bin drying.
"Then you have just the batch process. This is where you dry it, cool it down, put it in
the bin, and run a continuous flow dryer. If you're spraying a material like Actellic,
and corn is coming out of the dryer and into the bin, it needs to be cooled down. The
heat given off by the corn as it comes out of the dryer at 180 or 200 degrees will
affect the material you're spraying. So if you're using an insecticide, you really need
to cool down that product as it's going into the bin," he says.

Sumner says he conducted a test where he placed corn samples in a small oven at
110, 140 and 180 degrees F. "We pulled out six containers at one hour, three hours,
six hours, 12 hours and 24 hours. Then we evaluated them for adult weevil
emergence by placing these samples in plastic bags and waiting for the weevils to
emerge in about three weeks after going through that exposure to the hot
temperatures. We did the same test in larger containers with forced-air drying," he
There was a good infestation of weevils in the test, says Sumner. "We stored grain
from 2003 in 20-gallon barrels, and we allowed them to go through several cycles so
we would be certain of having a good infestation in the corn. The containers were
placed in the oven after we sifted through the corn, getting rid of the adult weevils.
After exposing the corn to the heat, we placed it in bags and waited."
In the check part of the test, there were eight to 25 weevils, depending on the time
the test was conducted, which might have been at the beginning or end of a cycle of
emergence. "It was interesting, that after we ran the first test at 180 degrees, there
weren't any weevils left after an hour. So when we ran the second, third and fourth
test at that temperature, we pulled out samples at 30 minutes to see if we could find
a cut-off period. In the 110-degree test, we were seeing weevils up until six hours of
exposure to the 110-degree temperature.
"After that six-hour period, we next would pull a sample in 12 hours, after which no
weevils emerged. The same thing occurred with the 140-degree test. Weevils would
emerge after being exposed to the heat for an hour."
Researchers also harvested about 600 bushels of corn, directly from the field, and
stored it in the grain bin for about six weeks, says Sumner. "We took the weevils left
over from the oven-dried test and dropped them in on top of the bin. We modified a
peanut trailer and placed four square bins in the trailer. We ran the tests for 110, 140
and 180 degrees, pulling samples at 15, 30 and 45 minutes. Then we went to one
hour, three hours, six hours and so forth to see where we could catch the emergence
that was being shut down by exposure to the heat. We pulled samples, placed them in
sealed plastic bags, and left them there for three weeks."

For 110 degrees F., there was a good infestation of weevils, he says. But after six
hours, there was no weevil emergence. At 140 degrees F., the mortality rate actually
dropped compared to the oven-dried test.
"That is because in the oven-dried test, it was just exposure to heat. The forced-air
test was more like normal drying, blowing heated air up through the product and
heating the corn faster, causing the maize weevils to die. At the 180-degree test we
chose 180 degrees because that was the highest temperature we could get from the
peanut trailer we no longer had weevils after 30 minutes.
"This tells me that if I'm going to harvest wet corn, and I need to dry it, I need to hold
it in the dryer for at least a certain amount of time if I want to dry it at 110 or 140
degrees. It'll take at least a couple of hours to get it from harvest moisture down to 15
percent, put it in the bin, and then dry it on down to 12 percent. If you change the
temperature say you're using 130 degrees F it's going to require more than an