Kansas

"You can hear one insect larvae feeding in a grain kernel. It's actually quite loud when you amplify it," said entomologist Jim Throne.

He is one of the Kansas State University researchers now exploring new ways of finding the insects that eat billion of dollars of U.S. grain producers' profits every year.

The K-State scientists are placing microphones on cables inside grain bins to listen for munching critters.

They hope their findings, combined with some computer analysis, will someday help storage managers determine how many insects are in a bin--as well as the best methods for eliminating the pests, Throne said.

U.S. growers annually produce about 10 billion bushels of corn and 2 billion bushels of wheat, valued together at about $30 billion of raw commodity.

Industry analysts estimate 5 to 10%--about $1 to 3 billion worth--of that harvest is now lost to insects.

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