Dave’s Soapbox…For What It’s Worth

by David Mueller

Insects, like humans, are looking for a safe place to build their home, multiply, and protect
themselves from their enemies.

A food or seed warehouse has hundreds if not thousands of such places at the base of metal racking. Here food and seed accumulates over time and becomes food for moths and beetles. One or two pieces of dog food or bird seed can feed several generations of stored product insects.

It doesn’t take spiders long to find these inhabited hiding places. They soon begin spinning delicate webs to trap the insects below. These webs are obvious to the most casual
observer. Spider webbing is usually a sign of insect activity. This could be stored product beetles and moths feeding on food that has accumulated in the racking or a misguided cricket that came into the warehouse to flee the approaching cold weather.

daves soapbox issue 112

The insect sleuth should inspect for webbing with a freshly charged bright light to determine if the spider webbing is new or old. New webbing is shiny like a crystal in the sun while old webbing has accumulated dust over time and takes on a dull reflection. With this piece of information, get on your hands and knees and probe the racking for live evidence. Be careful that you don’t make a black widow spider or brown recluse mad in your search.

We might think of ourselves as pretty good hunters or inspectors, but when survival depends on finding a prey the spider world is king. They catch insects for survival. Using these spiders and their webbing as key inspection sights will save you much labor and time in the search of a large space for tiny pests.

The solution to these hundreds of potential harborage sights is three-fold:

1. Select racking that does have void spaces for food to accumulate.

2. Vacuum the racking periodically.

3. Spray the racking with an approved residual pesticide.

We think like humans when we walk through a structure to hunt for pests. We are five to six feet tall with a tendency to look for objects that are big and moving. We need to think small and determine the locations that insects prefer to hide from their enemies. Humans are really not the pests’ enemy. Insects are hiding from predatory wasps that sting them and their eggs and eventually kill them. Many pests are nocturnal.

To hide from their enemy, some have learned to hide in cracks and crevices and others have learned to reproduce hundreds of offspring to ensure survival of the fittest.

The next time you walk into a warehouse full of racking that organizes food and seed, think small and use the spiders to your advantage. They have expelled their energy to produce a web in that spot for a reason.

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