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Rice (lesser grain) weevil (338) Print Fact Sheet

Common Name

Rice weevil, lesser grain weevil, small snout weevil

Scientific Name

Sitophilus oryzae; a similar species (Sitophilus zeamais) attacks maize (see Fact Sheet no. 339).


Worldwide. Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Oceania. It is recorded from Australia, Fiji1 and New Zealand. Because of previous taxonomic difficulties in distinguishing this weevil from Sitophilus zeamais, the reference to Sitophilus oryzae in Fiji needs confirmation.


Rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, and cassava. Both greater and lesser grain weevils attack cassava. The weevil also attack processed products, such as pasta. There is evidence (from Indonesia) that Sitophilus zeamais is more common on milled rice, and Sitophilus oryzae is more common on paddy (rice in the husk before processing). Sitiphilus oryzae is also common on wheat.

Symptoms & Life Cycle

The adults attack sound grain, and both adults and larvae feed inside them, leaving large cavities and emergence holes (Photo 1). The adults also attack damaged grains (Photo 2). During large infestations, heat and moisture are produced, leading to colonisation by moulds and mites.

Females lay 300-400 eggs, singly, in holes chewed in the grains and covered with a gelatinous substance. On average, four eggs are laid a day for 4-5 months. The eggs hatch into white, legless larvae, which remain inside the grain, and pupate there. Adults are 3-4 mm long, reddish-brown to black (Photos 3&4), with four light-reddish to yellowish spots at the corners of the wing cases (Photo 5). At 30°C and 70% RH, the life cycle takes 25 days. Adults live for several months to a year.

The weevil is not a strong flyer, less so than Sitophilus zeamais, and spread to new locations is by adults and larvae on and inside consignments of grain.


The weevil is considered a very destructive pest of stored grain, rice, maize, barley and wheat. Attacks from Sitophillus oryzae can start in the field, when the moisture content is about 20% (although Sitophilus zeamais is the stronger flier and more likely to infest crops before harvest). Commonly, loss of weight is up to 5%, but severe infestations increase the losses up to 40%. Secondary damage is caused by moulds, insects and mites.

Detection & Inspection

Look for the reddish to nearly black weevils, and holes in the grain. Look for the faint yellowish or reddish spots on the corners of the wing cases (Photo 4). The snout is long, about 1 mm. Note that identification of Sitophilus oryzae is difficult because of its similarity with Sitophilus zeamais, and needs to be done by a taxonomist. Males are said to produce a pheromone which is attractive to both Sitophilus oryzae and Sitophilus ziamais.


It is most important to dry the grain properly, to keep the storage area clean, and to monitor the grain often and regularly.

Before storage:

During storage:

If pesticides are needed, use the following:

Routine hygiene treatments

Treatment of seed for sowing

Treatment of grains for human consumption or for animal feed [make sure the product is labelled for use on rice, maize and small grains (barley, oats, wheat)]


AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
1Information from Swaine G (1971) Agricultural Zoology in Fiji. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. London; and CABI (2015) Sitotroga oryzae (lesser grain weevil) Crop Protection Compendium (; and Rice weevil Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government. (; Photos 1&2 Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,; Photos 3&4 Walker K (2006) rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae) PaDIL - (

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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