Insect Pest Control – The Non-Chemical Way


Traditional pesticides, such as aluminum phosphide for example, can produce hazardous phosphine gas upon decomposition. Because no chemicals are used in radio-frequency treatment there are no unhealthy toxins which can be released into the ecosystem or residues left on the product. consequently, radio-frequency treatment has no unhealthy side effects to consumers, or the ecosystem.


Most insects which affect stored grain are more resistant than those which typically infest textiles, museum collections, libraries collections and furniture. The effectiveness of radio-frequency treatment on these resistant grain insects would become a guideline. If radio-frequency treatment destroys these insects, then the less resistant insects have met the same fate. This eliminates the necessity to collect insects to be sent to an entomologist for identification prior to treatment, an often time and cost consuming exercise.


Tests were conducted at Midwest Freeze-Dry, Ltd. to examine the capabilities of using radio-frequency groups for insect pest control. Exposing insects in a radio-frequency energy field resulted in one hundred percent kill of the egg, larvae and adult stages of stored product insects, which underwent testing at the facility. Tests were conducted on Sitophilus oryza (Rice Weevil), Plodia interpunctella (Indian Meal Moth), and Tribolium castaneum (Red Flour Beetle).

Criteria: Insect Selection

The three insects chosen for this experiment were chosen because of the problems they create and the difficulties encountered in effective control in the grain industry. The rice weevil (Sitophilus oryza) is the most shared cause of problems in the storage of raw grains. This weevil is one of the most difficult to kill because it lays its egg inside the grain itself and seals it with a waxy plug, making it difficult for fumigants to penetrate. Plodia interpunctella, the Indian Meal moth causes the largest problems in stored products overall. Not only does it damage the product, but the silk webbing which is produced by the caterpillars can damage machinery. The red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) is the second largest cause of problems in the stored product industry. Compared to the shared insects which traditionally infest museum collections, textiles and furniture, these insects are challenging adversaries.

Materials and Methods

S. oryza, P. interpunctella and T. castaneum species were obtained from Insects Limited Incorporated, Indianapolis, Indiana. The eggs, larvae and adults (depending on their stage of development) were transferred into Pyrex petri dishes (along with their food source). These samples were put into the vacuum chamber sandwiched between four feet of other material being treated by Midwest Freeze-Dry, Ltd. The vacuum pressure was pulled to one-quarter air. The insects were then exposed to a radio frequency energy field for short pulsations totaling 90 seconds of exposure. Upon removal from the chamber all insects had been killed; (i.e. no signs of life were observed). For independent verification eggs and larvae were sent to Insects Limited Incorporated to test for any further development or hatching. Insects Limited confirmed that none occurred.

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