Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Oryzaephilus surinamensis
(saw toothed grain beetle)



Oryzaephilus surinamensis (saw toothed grain beetle)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Oryzaephilus surinamensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • saw toothed grain beetle
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Dorsal view of adult O. surinamensis (museum set specimen).
CaptionDorsal view of adult O. surinamensis (museum set specimen).
Copyright©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin
Dorsal view of adult O. surinamensis (museum set specimen).
AdultDorsal view of adult O. surinamensis (museum set specimen).©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Oryzaephilus surinamensis (Linnaeus)

Preferred Common Name

  • saw toothed grain beetle

Other Scientific Names

  • Dermestes surinamensis Linnaeus
  • Silvanus surinamensis Linnaeus
  • Sylvanus surinamensis Linnaeus

International Common Names

  • Spanish: carcoma dentada de los granos; escarabajo dentado de los granos; gorgojillo dentado; gorgojo asserrado de los granos; gorgojo de torax aserrado
  • French: cucujide dentelé des grains; silvain; ver dente des grains
  • Portuguese: caruncho de Suriname

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Getreide-Plattkaefer; Getreide-Schmalkaefer
  • Israel: chipushit mschunent hachaze
  • Italy: Silvano surinamense
  • Japan: Nokogiri-kokunusuto
  • Netherlands: Rijstkever
  • Norway: sagtannet melbille
  • Turkey: testereli bocek

EPPO code

  • ORYZSU (Oryzaephilus surinamensis)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Coleoptera
  •                         Family: Silvanidae
  •                             Genus: Oryzaephilus
  •                                 Species: Oryzaephilus surinamensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Although now placed in the family Silvanidae, these beetles were previously included in the Cucujidae. Only O. surinamensis (Linnaeus) and O. mercator (Fauvel) are of any importance as pests in this small family of beetles although other species such as Ahasverus advena (Waltl) and Cathartus quadricollis (Guerin) may be common in the humid tropics. Descriptions of several Oryzaephilus species found in stored products are given in Halstead (1980). For identification of the genus and the more common storage species, O. mercator and O. surinamensis, refer to the keys of Haines (1991) or Gorham (1991).


Top of page Larva

The larvae of O. surinamensis and O. mercator are white, elongate, somewhat flattened and about 4-5 mm long when fully grown; they do not have urogomphi.


Adults of O. surinamensis and O. mercator are slender, parallel-sided, dark-brown beetles, 2.5-3.5 mm long. The antennae are relatively short and weakly clubbed, and the prothorax has six distinctive tooth-like projections along each side.


Top of page O. surinamensis is cosmopolitan; Oryzaephilus mercator is mostly found in warmer, temperate and tropical regions.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AzerbaijanPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
BahrainPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
BangladeshPresentMills, 1983
Brunei DarussalamPresentWaterhouse, 1993
CambodiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993
ChinaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-Hong KongPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
IndiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-BiharPresentSinha and Sinha, 1992
-HaryanaPresentChaudhary and Mahla, 2001
-Himachal PradeshPresentRamesh and Vaidya, 2001
-KarnatakaPresentRajendran, 1989
-KeralaPresentKumari et al., 1992
-OdishaPresentPrakash and Kauraw, 1982, recd. 1985
IndonesiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976; APPPC, 1987; Waterhouse, 1993
IranPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
IraqPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
IsraelPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
JapanPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
Korea, Republic ofPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993
MalaysiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993
MyanmarPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976; Waterhouse, 1993
NepalPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
OmanPresentAl-Zadjali et al., 2006
PakistanPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
PhilippinesPresentCaliboso et al., 1985
Saudi ArabiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
SingaporeWidespreadWaterhouse, 1993; AVA, 2001
Sri LankaPresentGanesalingam, 1976
SyriaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
TaiwanPresentTzeng et al., 2006
TaiwanPresentTzeng et al., 2006
ThailandPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976; APPPC, 1987; Waterhouse, 1993
TurkeyPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
VietnamPresentWaterhouse, 1993
YemenPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976


AlgeriaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
AngolaPresentPacavira et al., 2006
EgyptPresentAlfazairy et al., 2003
EthiopiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
MalawiPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
MoroccoPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
MozambiquePresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
NamibiaPresentStejskal et al., 2006
NigeriaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
SomaliaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
South AfricaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
ZambiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
ZimbabwePresentChamp and Dyte, 1976

North America

CanadaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-ManitobaPresentSmith, 1985
MexicoPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
USAPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-ArkansasPresentRanalli et al., 2002
-CaliforniaPresentOlson et al., 1987
-GeorgiaPresentArbogast and Mullen, 1988
-IdahoPresentSandvol et al., 1984, recd. 1986
-KansasPresentReed et al., 1998
-MinnesotaPresentSubramanyam and Harein, 1990
-South CarolinaPresentArbogast and Mullen, 1988
-South DakotaPresentIngemansen et al., 1986

Central America and Caribbean

El SalvadorPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
GuadeloupePresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
JamaicaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
Trinidad and TobagoPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976

South America

ArgentinaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
BrazilPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-PernambucoPresentMachado et al., 2008
-PiauiPresentSilva PHSda, 2001
-Rio de JaneiroPresentGredilha et al., 2005
-Santa CatarinaPresentTrematerra et al., 2004
ChilePresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
ColombiaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
French GuianaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
GuyanaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
PeruPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976


AustriaPresentKlapal, 2002
BelgiumPresentDesimpelaere, 1996
BulgariaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
CroatiaPresentHamel, 2007
CyprusPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
DenmarkPresentHallas et al., 1977
GermanyPresentAdler, 2007
GreecePresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
ItalyPresentTrematerra and Sciarretta, 2004
NetherlandsPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
PolandPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
PortugalPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
RomaniaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
Russian FederationPresentLabinov and Egorov, 2003
SpainPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
SwitzerlandPresentBuchi, 1989
UKPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
Yugoslavia (former)PresentStojanovic and Kosovac, 1974


AustraliaPresentChamp and Dyte, 1976
-New South WalesPresentWallbank, 1996
-QueenslandPresentCollins et al., 1993
-VictoriaPresentBuchanan et al., 1984
New CaledoniaPresent

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page O. surinamensis is a common secondary pest of cereals and cereal products; O. mercator is more common on oilseeds, though it is also sometimes found on cereals. Both species may be found on copra, spices, nuts and dried fruit. O. surinamensis is prevalent on white milled rice; O. mercator is common on brown rice and rice bran.

Growth Stages

Top of page Post-harvest


Top of page Adult beetles of O. surinamensis and O. mercator can be seen moving rapidly over stored food. The immature stages are inconspicuous.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Seeds / external feeding

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Oryzaephilus spp. are typical secondary pests, attacking previously damaged or broken kernels to feed, especially on the germ. The larvae also attack the germ in whole cereal grains, thereby altering the nutritional content and reducing the percentage germination. Adults and larvae are able to enter small cracks, so they can often attack packaged food or nuts in shell. On copra, the larvae tend to feed close beneath the outer skin. The attack of Oryzaephilus spp. is facilitated by the broken kernels that result from handling procedures or the feeding activity of primary pests. Maize kernels damaged by the primary pest Sitotroga cereallella are a more suitable medium for development than mechanically damaged kernels (Weston and Rattlingourd, 2000). Likewise, wheat grain previously infested by the secondary pests Tribolium castaneum or Tribolium confusum (Trematerra et al., 2000) are more attractive than mechanically split kernels.

The life history of O. surinamensis and O. mercator has been described by Howe (1956). Eggs are laid loosely on foodstuffs at a peak rate of 6-10 per day in O. surinamensis, and 3 per day in O. mercator. Up to 375 eggs are laid by an O. surinamensis female and up to 200 by an O. mercator female. The larvae feed within the mass of produce. The larvae moult 2-4 times depending on conditions. On a diet of wheatfeed, the life cycle of Oryzaephilus spp. varies from about 20 days to more than 80 days at temperatures of 17.5-37.5°C and 10-90% RH. Optimum conditions for development are 30-35°C and 70-90% RH for O. surinamensis, and 30-33°C and 70% RH for O. mercator. O. surinamensis is more tolerant of extremes in temperature and humidity than O. mercator. For example, O. surinamensis can survive temperatures of 20-37°C at <10% RH, whereas O. mercator can only survive at 25-32.5°C at this humidity. Adult O. surinamensis have been reported to survive sub-zero temperatures for up to 4 days; under these and less extreme conditions (temperatures down to 5°C), O. mercator did not survive. In temperate areas, O. surinamensis can survive winters in unheated stores.

Adult Oryzaephilus spp. are winged but rarely fly. They tend to wander from the stored food into crevices, ducts and roofing spaces, from which they are difficult to eradicate; they can often be found beneath the bark of trees near to stores. Oryzaephilus spp. have not been recorded on grain in the field before harvest.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amphibolus venator Predator
Anisopteromalus calandrae Parasite
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen grain
Blattisocius tarsalis Predator
Cephalonomia meridionalis Parasite Larvae
Cephalonomia tarsalis Parasite Larvae
Helicosporidium parasihcum Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Holepyris sylvanidis Parasite Larvae
Lyctocoris campestris Predator
Mattesia oryzaephili Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Nosema oryzaephili Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Nosema whitei Pathogen Adults/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Tenebroides mauritanicus Predator
Tribolium castaneum Predator
Xylocoris cursitans Predator
Xylocoris flavipes Predator

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Oryzaephilus spp. are attacked by a wide range of organisms, including the protozoans Nosema oryzaephili, N. whitei, Mattesia oryzaephili and Helicosporidium parasihcum. Granulosis virus from the moth Plodia interpunctella has been shown to affect Oryzaephilus in the laboratory. The mite, Pyemotes tritici, can cause high mortality on all stages of O. mercator, especially on intact grain under experimental conditions. The hemipterans, Xylocoris cursitans and X. flavipes, have been reported as predators of Oryzaephilus spp.

Parasitic Hymenoptera of the family Bethylidae parasitize Oryzaephilus: the records include Cephalonomia meridionalis, C. tarsalis and Holepyris sylvanidis.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehiclesTransported in national and international grain trade Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods) adults; eggs; larvae; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Roots adults; eggs; larvae; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
True seeds (inc. grain) adults; eggs; larvae; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production None
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


Top of page Oryzaephilus spp. are not associated with any substantial weight loss in stored food products; however, infestations by these pests can lead to substantial contamination with frass and dead bodies. Thus, quality deterioration is an important issue.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Pitfall traps are unsuitable for the detection of O. surinamensis and O. mercator as these insects are able to climb on clean glass. They do enter refuge traps, such as strips of corrugated cardboard, or bag traps containing a suitable food bait (Hodges et al., 1986). A recently devised grain probe that automatically counts pests falling into it offers a convenient means of monitoring the pest in grain bulks (Epsky and Shuman, 2001).

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods

Good store hygiene plays an important role in limiting infestation by Oryzaephilus spp. The removal of infested residues from the previous season's harvest is essential, as is general hygiene in stores such as ensuring that all spillages are removed and all cracks and crevices filled. Infestations may also be limited by the storage of good quality grains such as whole cereals with fewer broken grains and dockage, and milled rice with a high milling degree (at least 95%) and few broken grains.

Biological Control

Biological control has not been practised against Oryzaephilus spp. The hemipterans, Xylocoris cursitans and X. flavipes, have been used successfully in field trials for biological control of residual populations of O. surinamensis.

Chemical Control

Grain may be protected by the admixture of insecticide. Oryzaephilus spp. are susceptible to all those insecticides normally used on stored food. Grain stocks may be fumigated with phosphine to eliminate an existing infestation but these treatments provide no protection against re-infestation. A variety of diatomaceous earths have been tested against Oryzaephilus surinamesis (Fields and Korunic, 2000; Arthur, 2001) and these offer potential for the control of these species even at grain moisture contents up to 17% (Cook and Armitage, 2000).


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Trematerra P; Sciarreta A; Tamasi E, 2000. Behavioural responses of Oryzaephilus surinamensis, Tribolium castaneum and Tribolium confusum to naturally and artificially damaged durum wheat kernels. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 94(2):195-200; 23 ref.

Trematerra P; Sciarretta A, 2004. Spatial distribution of some beetles infesting a feed mill with spatio-temporal dynamics of Oryzaephilus surinamensis, Tribolium castaneum and Tribolium confusum. Journal of Stored Products Research, 40(4):363-377.!&_cdi=5099&view=c&_acct=C000000593&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=3796239&md5=158860953bc5cce976fbea207b13ddf7

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Weston PA; Rattlingourd PL, 2000. Progeny production by Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) and Oryzaephilus surinamensis (Coleoptera: Silvanidae) on maize previously infested by Sitotroga cerealella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 93(2):533-536; 18 ref.

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