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|Beetle apocalypse? The pests in my pantry



© Western Australian Agriculture Authority (DAFWA)

Pantry Blitz trap

Beetle apocalypse? The pests in my pantry

I let total strangers see inside my pantry—bugs and all.

Beetle apocalypse? The pests in my pantry

Previously, I’d discovered critters in my pantry only once (I’m looking at you, pappadums).

But in a strangely revolting, can’t-look-away type of moment, I felt compelled to participate in Pantry Blitz, a citizen science activity run during National Science Week trapping and snapping household pests.

I decided that if I was hosting many-legged guests, I wanted to know what type, and how many.

I was not alone.

Nearly 2000 ordinary people, mostly Western Australians, signed up to stake out their pantries, all in the name of biosecurity.

your trap is in the mail

Each Pantry Blitzer received a free, baited sticky trap in the mail. We were asked to stick it in our pantries for a month, and check it once a week, pinging happy snaps of any crawlers across to DAFWA’s experts for identification.

No bugs in the trap? Great, they said. Send those shots in too. Apparently, ‘absence’ reports help show that WA is pest-free.

Everything was streamlined through the free MyPestGuide Reporter app

What could possibly go wrong?

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Image|© Western Australian Agriculture Authority (Department of Agriculture and Food, WA)
Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) is one of the most serious pests of stored grain products, especially under hot and dry conditions. It is a regulated quarantine pest in many countries and currently absent from Australia.


You may think I maintain a labelled and sanitised pantry. You would be incorrect.

Waiting for the first week’s results was surprisingly nerve-wracking.

Yet despite my haphazard housekeeping, I’m pleased to announce I found and photographed zero bugs.

So did many other participants.

Pantry Blitzers filed 2365 reports, more than 70% of which showed empty traps.

Some showed harmless cigarette beetles, or carpet beetles. A couple displayed hapless cockroaches. Not one exhibited an invasive pest (phew!).

I was smugly pleased with my zero result, till I learned the lure wasn’t for roaches or moths or any common household pests; it was for khapra beetles.


Khapra beetles love anywhere hot and dry (Perth, anyone?), and if found, the consequences for our grain industry would be……expensive, severely impacting our international trade

The beetle’s larvae munch through grains, cereals, nuts, spices, even snail pellets, dead mice, and dried blood. They’ll even devour their parents.

Nearly 2000 Australians signed up to dig through their pantry in the name of biosecurity as a part of citizen science project pantry Blitz.
Image|© Western Australian Agriculture Authority (DAFWA)
Pantry Blitz, 2016 National Science Week citizen science project
In overseas outbreaks, they’ve destroyed up to 70% of stored grains, and what they don’t eat is littered with larvae skins and beetle poop.

Think beetle apocalypse, and you’re getting close.

Thankfully, our Pantry Blitz results helped provide ongoing evidence that khapra beetles remain absent from WA.


Even though Pantry Blitz is finished, you can still get involved with monitoring and pest surveillance in your home and around your community.

Just download the free MyPestGuide Reporter app, send through your best bug shots, and you’ll hear back from DAFWA about what they are, and what you can do about it.

Tracking WA Science VIDEO


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