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using chemicals in grain bins

I never had bug problems in the bins till this summer. I found out that phosfume will kill bugs. But I also found out that malathion can be mixed in the grain in the bin. That means the malathion will be in the grain when it is sold. That doesn't make sense to me. If that grain is fed to cows or it is used to make cereal, the malathion will be ingested. It is all legal. But is using malathion the right choice, when phosfume could be used and there would be no grain contamination.

5 Replies
Senior Advisor

Re: using chemicals in grain bins

This is not very profound but read the labels or do a goggle search on the products and learn what the limitations are against the products.


Malathion has been used almost forever and I think you are not to feed the grain for a period to livestock.

Iowa notiller
Senior Contributor

Re: using chemicals in grain bins

I have been using Tempo in my grain bins for years. You mix it with water. I spray the floor and outside the bins foundation. It works great. I also spray it around my house foundation to keep the crickets, ants and spiders from coming in. Most co-ops should have it. Good luck.

Jim B. in Iowa
Senior Contributor

Re: using chemicals in grain bins

I don't think Malathion is labeled for any type of grain any more.  Not even sure if its labeled for empty bins without a long reentry period.  Even if it is, do NOT spray it on the grain.  I made that mistake a couple decades ago and smell would NOT go out of the grain.  Ended up having to blend it off bit by bit.

Veteran Advisor

Re: using chemicals in grain bins

I had what I thought was a very thorough explanation of how I get corn to keep into August every year, and how I kept bugs out of corn until harvest when I used to raise hogs, but my computer ate it, so here is a reply in brief:

Just recently Phosfume has gotten a bunch more restrictions on it, here in Nebraska, to the point you need a full commercial license, and full respirator to apply it in the bin.  Apparently, there were a couple fatalaties from its misuse, so they clamped down on its use.  Before you use it, be darn sure it is OK to do so, in your State.  The fines for misuse of it here, are somewhere between outlandish, and insane.  If they detect residue from it in your corn, you may be required to produce the work order from a licensed exterminator, or face a fine, at least over here.

I have had the best luck spraying the floor (if it is concrete) and around the footing with whatever bug killer the CoOp recommends, and for cleaning out the bin, once bugs are in it, I like Insecto.  You open the top hatch, turn on your ventilation fan, sprinkle a measured amount of the stuff into the airstream, so it carries into the bin, and when your watch says the proper time has passed, you shut off the fan, close the hatch, and wait for the bugs to die.  No need to enter the bin and breathe any nasty fumes.

Senior Contributor

Re: using chemicals in grain bins

We also use Tempo which is pretty safe. I believe it is even labeled for use inside public buildings.


We generally don't get many insect problems in the grain bins unless one waits till late summer to empty out bins.  Like notiller we will spray Tempo in empty bins right before harvest concentrating on the floor, flashing and auger sump/well area.


We also spray it around house and garage foundations and along door sills.  We will also spray it around and just inside doors of machine shed and garage.  Ordor is not to bad and Tempo seems to have good residual effect although rain will weaken control where sprayed on outside of buildings.


Talked with several elevator employees on this subject when I traveled around as a grain inspector.  Several elevator employees told me they have noticed that when they routinely use Tempo they not only see less grain damaging insects but also see less mice and spiders in the areas sprayed.