Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be used as a surface treatment in stored wheat Triticum aestivum (L.) to control pest infestations. However, it is not known how the thickness of the DE-treated wheat layer or grain temperature impact effectiveness. Therefore, we conducted an experiment in growth chambers to assess the effect of different surface layers of hard winter wheat combined with DE on spatial distribution, adult survival, and progeny production of lesser grain borer, Rhyzopertha dominica (F.), and to determine whether temperature and exposure interval modified this effect. When adult lesser grain borers were released in experimental towers containing untreated wheat or wheat admixed with DE to a surface layer depth of 15.2, 22.9, or 30.5 cm, they were able to penetrate all DE layers and oviposit in the untreated wheat below. However, survival was significantly reduced in adults exposed to DE. Survival decreased both with increasing depth of the DE-treated wheat and with exposure interval. Temperature had no effect on adult survival, but significantly more progeny were produced at 32 than at 27°C. Progeny production was inversely correlated with the depth of the DE-treated layer. Vertical distribution patterns of parental beetles were not significantly different among treatments or exposure intervals; however, more insects were found at greater depths at 32 than at 27°C. The F1 production was reduced by 22% at the thickest DE-treated layer. However, we conclude that this level of survival could leave a residual population of lesser grain borers that would probably be above an allowable threshold for insect damage.
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