News & Media

Citizen scientists complete Pantry Blitz 2021

Released on

Released on:
Tuesday, 15. June 2021 - 9:00

More than 1300 citizen scientists from Albany to Kununurra rallied together this year to participate in Pantry Blitz 2021.

The surveillance Blitz to unearth potential pests that could threaten the State’s biosecurity defences was hosted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Senior development officer Rosalie McCauley said, thankfully, no serious pests were discovered but plenty of creepy crawlies were reported.

“The most common report was of cigarette or tobacco beetles, which is a common pest of store cupboard products,” she said.

“While these tiny, reddish-brown critters are generally not considered a threat, in large numbers they could post a threat to stored grain and animal feed.

“There were also several reports of Indian meal moths, also known as pantry moths, which can infest a wide range of vegetable foodstuffs, like cereal, flour and dried fruits.

“These reports all add to the department’s ongoing surveillance efforts for invasive ants, like red imported fire ant and browsing ant, extending our survey territory.”

Molecular testing by the department’s entomologists was used to identify a European carpet beetle larvae specimen, which was caught in a Pantry Blitz trap.

“The European carpet beetle larvae raised our attention, as there are known to be destructive pests in the same family,” Dr McCauley said.

“Many larvae in this family look similar and can only be distinguished by molecular analysis so our team was diligent and sought both visual and molecular confirmation to ensure is wasn’t a destructive beetle.”

The data from Pantry Blitz is used in a variety of ways, from supporting area freedom assessments to assisting incident responses.

“The public’s involvement in Pantry Blitz 2021 has been invaluable to provide verifiable evidence on the absence and presence of pests and diseases in WA to demonstrate area freedom and continue to support access to valuable export markets,” Dr McCauley said.

This is the third time Pantry Blitz has been run in WA in the past six years to support the department’s ongoing surveillance efforts and reinforce the State’s freedom from many of the world’s worst pests and diseases.

Dr McCauley said that although this year’s Pantry Blitz was over, it was important for the community to remain vigilant and report any sightings of unusual insect pests or signs of disease.

“Pantry Blitz is really every day of the year, as plant and animal pest and disease threats could appear at any time,” she said.

“The public plays an important role on the front line of the State’s biosecurity defence force.

“Early detection and identification is key to an efficient and effective biosecurity response to protect WA’s valuable agriculture industry, environment and our outdoor lifestyle.”

Reports any unusual sightings of pests and disease to DPIRD’s MyPestGuide Reporter app or via the website mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au or contacting its Pest and Disease Information Service (PADIS) at padis@dpird.wa.gov.au or (08) 9368 3080.

An extreme closeup of a carpet beetle in a petri dish.
A carpet beetle (pictured) was one of the many contributions to DPIRD’s Pantry Blitz 2021 campaign to aid biosecurity surveillance efforts.
Three people looking at an insect specimen in a laboratory.
DPIRD senior development officer Dr Rosalie McCauley (left) compares a one of 1380 reports to Pantry Blitz 2021 with insect specimens, alongside laboratory scientist Andras Szito and project officer Elisha Cassidy.

Media contacts:

Megan Broad/Katrina Bowers, media liaison                            

+61 (0)8 9368 3937