Plant Export Operations Manual Volume 6 Part A: Pests, Diseases and Contaminants of Grain and Plant Products (excluding horticulture) Contents

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Plant Export Operations Branch

Plant Export Operations Manual

Volume 6 Part A: Pests, Diseases and Contaminants of Grain and Plant Products (excluding horticulture)


Introduction 2

Inspection Equipment Checklist 2

Insect infestation of stored product 3

Pests associated with stored product 3

Major and minor pests of stored product 3

Field species 3

Sample Collection 4

Labelling of samples 4

Pests associated with stored grain and plant products (excluding horticulture) 6

Weed Seeds and other Contaminants 32

Inert Material 33

Extraneous Matter 33

Ergot 33

Datura spp. 34

Rodents 34

Timber pests 34

Relevant eLearning Module 35

Questions 35

References relating to insects associated with stored food products 36


Pest, disease and contaminants within plant export commodities are extensive and diverse and vary depending on the commodity. This volume is specific to pests, diseases and contaminants applicable to grain and plant products excluding horticulture commodities and forest products. The information in this volume will assist authorised officers (AOs) in the identification of pests, diseases and contaminants likely to be encountered within the commodity or associated with the flowpath. The tables in this volume are not an exhaustive list.

Where uncertainty exists regarding identification, the AO must inform the exporter of their responsibility to seek professional identification. AOs are not expected to be able to identify all pests, diseases or contaminants.

Inspection Equipment Checklist

Essential equipment that an authorised officer will find useful for inspection, and the collection of pest, disease and contaminant specimens in grain and plant products (excluding horticulture) include:

  • waste bin and lid supplied by establishment for disposing of unwanted material found during inspection

  • vials/sample tubes filled with 70% ethanol (methylated spirits should only be used as a last resort)

  • a small brush for separating objects of quarantine concern and collecting small insects from the grain samples being inspected

  • adequate light and a good quality torch capable of being focused to a spot

  • a scraper/knife and/or probe for recovering residues etc

  • labels for specimens

  • a sieve(s) for screening grain samples

  • hand lens x10 magnification or more for pest, weed seeds and contamination identification

  • small plastic bags for storing various items during sampling

  • triers for inspection of bagged products

  • a pair of tweezers suitable for collecting the larger species

  • pencils for labelling tubes (pens aren't suitable as alcohol dissolves most ink) and pen for completing various forms.

Insect infestation of stored product

A nil tolerance for live pest infestation must be applied to all relevant goods presented for inspection unless specified in PEOM Volume 8: Commodity Inspections - Grain, seeds, nuts and stockfeed.

Pests associated with stored product

Of the many hundreds of insects associated with stored products only a small portion of them are able to cause serious damage to a product that is in sound condition. Many insects are attracted only to vegetative material, others are predacious or parasitic on the insects that are found infesting stored product. Therefore, common insect species associated with stored product can be classified as major, minor or field species. Refer to Tables 1 and 2 for details.

Many of the species listed in Tables 1 and 2 may be found during the inspection of prescribed goods, registered establishments, bulk vessel cargo spaces or containers.

Inclusion in the list does not necessarily imply that the species occur in Australia, for example, khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) and greater grain borer (Prostephanus truncatus) are not known to occur in Australia.

Major and minor pests of stored product

Major or primary pests of stored product are those which can bite or pierce into a whole, sound and healthy product. They can live, breed and multiply in stored product. Minor or secondary pests are generally unable to damage the whole, healthy and sound product but do considerable damage to stored product that has been damaged by mechanical processes or other pests. Detailed information on major and minor pests is given in Table 1.

Field species

Suspect field species, also known as vagrant insects, include a range of insects and spiders, such as silverfish, earwigs, wasps, bugs and ants and are not considered stored product pests or insect species injurious to prescribed goods. Refer to Table 2 for detailed information on field pests associated with stored product.

These harvest insects do not damage stored goods, rather their presence in stored products is a source of contamination. These insects are often picked up during harvest and are particularly abundant in windrowed crops, hay and straw. They should however be handled with care and sampled in situations where identification is questioned.

Whilst these field species are not likely to survive for extended periods in grain and other plant product consignments, high population levels increase the likelihood of live insects being present at inspection, particularly for grain exports.

Irrespective of whether an insect will survive or is a stored grain pest, a level of infestation could be detrimental to Australia’s international export reputation.

The determination of whether or not a field insect has the ability to survive in transit to the destination country is not the responsibility of an AO. However, enough is known about a number of common field species to establish administrative procedures and tolerance levels for these species. Refer to PEOM Volume 8: Commodity Inspections - Grain, seeds, nuts and stockfeed for the details relating to these procedures and tolerances for contaminants and field species.

Sample Collection

It is advised that when AOs find insects within a consignment they collect samples for identification and reporting. When live insects are found, the authorised officer should wet the brush with 70% ethanol and then, with a rolling action, pick up the insect on the tip of the brush and transfer it to the sample tube. For moths, it may be necessary to place the wet brush over the wings to prevent flight. Often a moth will struggle from beneath the brush. Once it is wet, however, it may be readily picked up.

AOs should attempt to collect a representative sample of insects and not just the first specimen found. Try not to include substrate (e.g. grain etc.) with the specimens as this makes identification more difficult.

All specimens, except soft-bodied larvae (e.g. caterpillars and maggots), should be collected into 70% ethanol. Do not use methylated spirits as it hardens the specimens and makes identification and long term storage very difficult. Caterpillars and fly maggots should be fixed in hot water. Fix for a few minutes, then drain the water off and place the specimens into 70% ethanol. Never leave them in water for an extended time as they will start to rot.

If specimens of dead insects are collected, they should be placed in tubes separate from any live ones and the labels marked accordingly.

Labelling of samples

Samples should be labelled in pencil as ink tends to smear. The label should include:

  • the container number/bulk vessel name

  • the bulk vessel unique number where relevant

  • the port or location or premises name

  • the commodity type

  • the AO’s name and the date collected.

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