Characterization of sounds in maize produced by internally feeding insects: Investigations to develop inexpensive devices for detection of prostephanus truncatus (Coleoptera: Bostrichidae) and sitophilus zeamais (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in small-scale storage facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Florida Entomological Society


Infestations by Prostephanus truncatus Horn (Coleoptera: Bostrichidae) and Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) are prevalent in small-scale Zea mays L. storage facilities in Tanzania and other regions of sub-Saharan Africa. It is especially difficult to detect these species’ larvae, which feed unseen inside the grain kernels. An electronic device that acoustically detects and reliably indicates the presence of such larvae could assist pest managers in maintaining the quality of the stored maize. A study was conducted in a sound- and vibration-controlled environment to estimate the amplitudes and spectral ranges of signals that an inexpensive electronic system would encounter while detecting insects in maize storage facilities. Larva-infested wheat kernels from a laboratory colony of Sitophilus oryzae (L.), a species similar in size and behavior to S. zeamais, were placed in a pouch and inserted near the side or the bottom of a bag of maize. An acoustic probe was inserted into the bag, and recordings were made at multiple positions, 5–35 cm from the pouch. Numerous sounds of 4 different types were detected over a range of frequencies extending to 7 kHz, well within the signal-processing capabilities of currently available low-cost microcontroller platforms. Larval sound impulses were detected frequently within 25 cm from the pouch, but not at 35 cm. However, adjustable-length probes could be used to reach within 30 cm of all maize kernels in the types of containers commonly used in regional storage facilities. Thus, there is considerable potential to develop an inexpensive sensor/ microcontroller system useful for managing stored product insect pests in sub-Saharan Africa.


Florida Entomologist Society 2015, Vol 98(2)


Acoustic probe, Post-harvest, Hidden infestation, Signal processing, Grain, Tanzania