Red Flour Beetles

Tribolium Castaneum
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What do red flour beetles look like?

red flour beetle in tucson az kitchen

As their name suggests, adult beetles are reddish-brown, have three body parts, six legs, and notched eyes as well as antennae that have a 3-segmented club at the end. Adults are about 1/8 inch long and are capable of flight.

Red flour beetle larva are white with brown heads and forked projections at the rear. 

Life cycle of red flour beetles

Development takes 30-90 days (average begin 30 days in prime conditions) from egg, larva, pupa, to adult forms.  The adults can lay 300-400 eggs during a 5-8 month period.  The eggs are covered with a sticky substance so when eggs are laid in the food source, the food residue will stick to the egg making it harder to detect.

Habits of red flour beetles

  • Diet: Grain products including cereal, pasta, dry pet foods, cake mixes, spices, dried flowers, seeds, nuts, flour, wheat, oats, etc.
  • Activity: Day and night
  • Preferred Climate: Warmer climates.
  • Defense: Inspect grain products before moving into the house.  Store in freezer for one week before placing in the pantry.  Store products in tightly sealed containers and inspect each time used.
  • Cautions: Can destroy grain products but are not known to spread disease.
  • Home Invasion:  Adults or larva can be seen in products or in the vicinity of where they are stored.

Are red flour beetles dangerous?

A very common pantry or stored product pest, red flour beetles often infest flour and other stored grains. Although they infest stored products and may leave behind an unpleasant odor, they are not considered a harmful or medically dangerous pest. 

Where to red flour beetles live?

As previously noted, red flour beetles infest flour and other products often found in pantries and other food storage areas. 

Helpful hints for red flour beetles

If you're worried about a red flour beetle infestation, try out these tips:

  • Find food source and dispose of it immediately.  Look through all products in the vicinity to ensure infestation has not spread to other items even if you think you found the main source.
  • Sanitation practices to eliminate food sources including vacuuming food residues and beetles then discarding vacuum contents in outside receptacle.
  • Use hot water with bleach to remove any remaining food residues on shelves or food packaging.
  • Insecticide applications and pheromone lures are available, but sanitation is the key to solving this problem.

Interesting facts about red flour beetles

Another pest called the confused flour beetle often is “confused” for the red flour beetle.  They have many of the same attributes, however, confused flour beetles cannot fly.

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