An entomological and economic analysis of heat treatment in Italian flour mills
Abstract: Heat treatments (HT) for pest control represents a promising non-chemical method to control stored grain arthropods with a significant reduction of environmental impact compared to other chemical methods. For mills, pest control in post-harvest workspaces is considered as one of the activities that might highly affect the environment due to the chemicals used for that purpose. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the technical effectiveness and economic feasibility of HT within mills that produce flour in Sicily (Italy). In this perspective, a mixed entomological and economic study was conducted in which the efficacy of the treatments in controlling food stored pests and the economic feasibility for the mills that adopted this technique, was assessed. The experiments were conducted in three mills of durum wheat and one mill of soft wheat, in late spring, evaluating the mortality rate of different life instars of T. confusum, S. oryzae, R. dominica, S. paniceum and E. kuehniella. The results obtained have shown a good effectiveness of this method in controlling pests’ population; the economic analysis conducted, using precautionary assumptions, showed good performance of the Benefit-Cost Analysis’ financial indices. This eco-friendly method provide a good technical alternatives to chemical control method for stored food pests, finding a good applicability in the critical stages of the food chain.