The seed beetle (Acanthoscelides obtectus) is a cosmopolitan pest of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Its ability to infest beans in the field and in the storage makes it the most damaging pest of bean seeds. The beetle body is ovoid, light brown, 3-5mm long.
1. Find seed beetle
You can find and collect beetles by placing a bowl with 50-100 grams of common bean on some dry place like basement or storehouse. When adult females find the seeds they will deposit eggs on them. Then, hatched larvae will bore into the seeds and, at the end of the larval stage, just before pupation, cut an exit hole and return to their feeding chamber to finish pre-adult development. Exit holes become black and visible 25 days after egg deposition and soon adult beetles will emerge from them.
Whether you have set the bowl to catch the beetles or not, ask your grandparents, neighbors and friends if they can help you in your seed beetle quest. Transfer infected seeds with black exit holes into the closable containers made of glass or plastic (e.g. jar with a lid), and wait for the adults to emerge. When around 15 beetles emerge, place the jar in the freezer overnight. This is a humane way to euthanize the insects, which is something we have to do in order to collect DNA from them. As long as you are taking only a few beetles (5-15) from your area, your collecting should not have a negative impact on this insect’s population.
2. Contact us to send you the beetle collection kit
Inform us that you have captured the beetles and send us your address on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you the collection kit which includes 1.5ml plastic tube filled with 96% ethanol and some promotional material. You should transfer dead beetles with tweezers directly from the freezer into the plastic tube with alcohol. Don’t leave frozen insects at the room temperature because this could damage their DNA.
3. Send us your sample
Place the plastic tube with insects into the envelope and send us to:
Department of Evolutionary Biology
Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”
Bulevar despota Stefana 142
The project has started in 2020 and will last in the coming years. So, whenever you find seed beetles, write to us.