The Red Flour Beetle (Tribolium castaneum) is a serious pest of stored products. These small (3 to 5 mm) beetles are found throughout the world and feed primarily on milled grain products, grain dust, broken kernels, pasta, nuts, and beans, among other dry foods. Adult females may live up to a year. They have apparently been associated with humans for several thousand years.
The Red Flour Beetle is better suited to subtropical climates; in temperate climates, the extremely similar Confused Flour Beetle (T. confusum) is more common. The two beetles are similar in size, color, and texture of the dorsal surface. They are most easily distinguished by examining the segments of the antennal club, which increase gradually in size moving outward in the Confused Flour Beetle, but abruptly in the Red Flour Beetle.
Development from egg to adult takes around 4 weeks in warm habitats, but is slowed by cool temperatures and sub-optimal food.
(White 1983; Eaton and Kaufman 2007)
Tribolium species, including the Red Flour Beetle, have been the focus of a number of important laboratory investigations of population ecology and genetics.
- Eaton, E.R. and K. Kaufman. 2007. Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
- White, R.E. 1983. A Field Guide to the Beetles of North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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