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Red flour beetles swarm FCI warehouse, residents sleepless nights, eye and respiratory infections

A large number of flour beetles arrived at a house in Tuthukudi on Monday.

A large number of flour beetles arrived at a house in Tuthukudi on Monday. | Photo credit: N. RAJESH

Residents living near the Indian Food Corporation warehouse in the city’s Third Mile often suffer from insomnia and eye and respiratory infections as red flour beetles swarm from the grain stored in the warehouse.

Red flour beetles, which thrive on infested grain, are attracted to lights. Apart from emitting an unpleasant odor, these insects can cause respiratory allergies and cause eye pain as thousands of beetles fly out of the warehouse and accidentally fall into the eyes of people, mostly on two-wheelers.

Residents complained that the moisture content of grains stored in FCI warehouses was allegedly much higher than the recommended limit and lack of adequate fumigation, resulting in a conducive environment for their multiplication.

“A swarm of red pink beetles enters our residential complex in the evening after being attracted to lights and enters the houses indiscriminately. It is everywhere…in our clothes, beds, furniture, etc. When the beetles land on food and water, we are unable to eat or drink “When it gets in the eyes, we have to spend at least Rs 500 to see an ophthalmologist and get eye drops to neutralize the infection. Some of us have to be admitted to the hospital due to infections caused by pink beetles in the respiratory tract,” FCI Warehouse. said N. Rajesh of nearby Asirvatham Nagar.

Residents of Asirvatham Nagar, Indra Nagar, Thiru.Vi.Ka as the menace has become an “annual feature” between June and December. Last year, petitions were submitted to the collector and corporation officials from Nagar, Shankar Colony, P and T Colony and adjoining areas, requesting the FCI management to take appropriate fumigation measures to eradicate the beetle. However, this year the problem resurfaced.

“Although the red-faced beetle does not cause any infectious diseases in humans, it can cause severe allergic reactions. Once the flour beetle lands in the eye, it usually causes periorbital dermatitis, with or without conjunctivitis. The toxin of this insect is weak Alkali rarely penetrates the cornea and causes keratitis. Symptoms include foreign body sensation, itching and watering of the affected eye, and keratoconjunctivitis. It is recommended not to rub the affected eye and wash it with plenty of water. Also, avoid using cotton swabs and hands. , tongue, etc. to remove the insect from the eye on its own.

Recently, when the “pre-monsoon issue” resurfaced, a complaint was lodged with officials and revenue department officer Thoothukudi M. Prabhu, an investigation was conducted and the allegations against the FCI warehouse management were found to be true.

A senior official at the FCI warehouse said that Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officials visited the warehouse last week and the situation was “basically fine”. “Pre-monsoon fumigation is now underway to fumigate the entire stock. So, there won’t be much of a problem going forward.

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