Can Some Insects Survive Extreme Heat Or Cold Treatments?

Over the course of pest control history, several different methods of killing insect pests have been developed. So far it seems that chemical treatments are the most effective, but sometimes, other forms of pest control become necessary. Heat treatments, for example, are becoming popular as a method for eradicating bed bug populations within people’s homes. Surprisingly, some countries have also been using extremely cold temperatures in order to control insect pests.

Insecticides are considered the first line of defense against insect pest infestations. However, certain insects have developed a resistance to pesticides, most notably bed bugs. In these cases, hot or cold treatments may be beneficial. Pest control methods involving extreme temperatures are also useful for eradicating insects from bulk amounts of agricultural products. Most insects cannot survive long if the temperature in their environment surpasses 97 degrees fahrenheit or drops below 55 degrees fahrenheit. Of course, the speed at which insects die depends on how far the temperature falls outside this range. Luckily, there is no insect species that experts are aware of that can survive freezing temperatures. This makes the large scale freezing of agricultural products a feasible pest control option.

The cooling of grain is becoming more common among large scale grain producers. The most common type of method used to cool bulk grain is known as “ambient air aeration.” This method only works when grain temperatures are higher than outside temperatures. “Chilled Aeration” is more expensive than ambient air aeration, but it can be used to kill insect pests no matter the temperature or moisture level of bulk grain.

At the moment, chilled aeration is used in over 50 countries in order to cool around 80 million tons of grain annually. In Australia, grain producers often use heat treatments for eradicating insect pests as opposed to cold treatments. Sometimes insect pests are eradicated from buildings by either cooling or heating every internal area. Obviously, people cannot be present within buildings during these treatments, and proper precautions must be taken. Heat treatments are generally used by pest control professionals more often than cold treatments because heat can damage an insect’s reproductive abilities if it does not directly kill them. There is currently several ongoing studies concerning how common insect pests are affected by excessively high or low temperatures.

Do you think that extreme temperature treatments could be used as a practical alternative to current pest control methods?

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