Although high concentrations of zinc and manganese were found in mandibles of insect larvae that bore into seeds, these metals were not detected in mandibles of insect larvae that attack previously damaged seeds. Metals were present in the larval mandibles of a lepidopteran, the Angoumois grain moth (Sitotroga cerealella), and eight coleopterans, the lesser grain borer (Rhyzopertha dominica), cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne), drugstore beetle (Stegobium paniceum), spider beetle (Gibbium aequinoctiale), warehouse beetle (Trogoderma variabile), cadelle (Tenebroides mauritanicus), larger black flour beetle (Cynaeus angustus), and cowpea weevil (Callosobruchus maculatus). Larvae of these species can chew into seeds. Larvae of six other coleopterans, the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), sawtoothed grain beetle (Oryzaephilus surinamensis), rusty grain beetle (Cryptolestes ferrugineus), red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum), longheaded flour beetle (Latheticus oryzae), and granary weevil (Sitophilus granarius) have little if any ability to chew into seeds, and did not have metal in their mandibles. Larvae of the granary weevil hatch and feed within seeds that were penetrated previously during egg deposition by adults. However, newly hatched larvae of the cowpea weevil and the Angoumois grain moth have to bore through the seed coat before they begin feeding, and they have mandibles with high concentrations of zinc. These data support the hypothesis that deposition of zinc and/or manganese in larval mandibles enhances the larva's ability to penetrate seeds. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.