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Overview

Brief Summary

The Confused Flour Beetle (Tribolium confusum) 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 Confused Flour Beetle is better suited to temperate climates (it is the most abundant and harmful pest in North American flour mills). The extremely similar Red Flour Beetle (T. castaneum) predominates in subtropical climates. 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 Confused 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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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Ecology

Associations

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
larva of Hymenolepis diminuta endoparasitises adult of Tribolium confusum

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Tribolium confusum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tribolium confusum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Confused flour beetle

The confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum), a type of darkling beetle known as a flour beetle, is a common pest insect known for attacking and infesting stored flour and grain. They are one of the most common and most destructive insect pests for grain and other food products stored in silos, warehouses, grocery stores, and homes.[1]

Contents

Appearance

The confused flour beetle is very similar in appearance and habit to the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum and the destructive flour beetle, Tribolium destructor. Both the confused flour beetle and red flour beetle are small, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length, and reddish-brown in color. The primary distinguishing physical difference is the shape of their antennae: the confused flour beetle's antennae increase gradually in size and have four clubs, while the red flour beetle's antennae have only three. Additionally, red flour beetles have been known to fly short distances, while confused flour beetles do not. Tribolium destructor is much darker than either and less common.

The "confused" in the beetle's name is due to being confused with the red flour beetle, and not because of its walking pattern. [2]

Habits

While confused (and red) flour beetles cannot feed on whole, undamaged grain, they are often found in large numbers in infested grains, feeding on broken grain, grain dust, and other household food items such as flour, rice, dried fruit, nuts, and beans. Both types of beetles are often found not only in infested grains, but in crevices in pantries and cabinet, as well. Damage to food is caused somewhat by the beetles' feeding, but also by their dead bodies, fecal pellets, and foul-smelling secretions. In addition to creating a foul odor, the beetles' presence encourages the growth of mold.[3]

In science and popular culture

Confused flour beetles are a common model organism in science. Several confused flour beetles were experimental subjects on the Bion 1 spacecraft, launched in 1973.

In an episode of Mythbusters, the flour beetle, as well as cockroaches and fruit flies, were tested to determine their resistance to radiation in the event of a nuclear holocaust. In the end, the flour beetle was the only species tested to live 30 days past exposure to 100,000 rads (100 times the lethal dose to human beings, according to promotions of the episode).

Footnotes

References

See also

Home stored product entomology

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