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Confused flour beetle

The confused flour beetle, originally of African origin, has a different distribution in that it occurs worldwide in cooler climates. In the United States it is more abundant in the northern states.

Confused flour beetle

Confused flour beetle

The red flour beetle is reddish-brown in color and its antennae end in a three-segmented club (Bousquet 1990). Whereas the confused flour beetle is the same color but its antennae end is gradually club-like, the “club” consisting of four segments (Walter). The head of the red flour beetle is visible from above, does not have a beak and the thorax has slightly curved sides. The confused flour beetle is similar, but the sides of the thorax are more parallel

The confused flour beetles may be present in large numbers in infested grain, but are unable to attack sound or undamaged grain (Walter). The adults are attracted to light, but will go towards cover when disturbed. Typically, these beetles can be found not only inside infested grain products, but in cracks and crevices where grain may have spilled. They are attracted to grain with high moisture content and can cause a grey tint to the grain they are infesting. The beetles give off a displeasing odor, and their presence encourages mold growth in grain.

Flour Beetle Life Cycle : The adult beetles are very active and move about rapidly when disturbed. The average life of adults is about one year. Females lay an average of about 450 eggs, which are small and clear white. The eggs are laid loosely on fine materials and broken kernels where the adults reside. The eggs are covered with a sticky secretion which the fine material adheres to. Fresh material placed in a grain bin will become rapidly infested if previous grain residue is not removed. Larvae (small brownish-white worms) hatch in five to twelve days and are full-grown in one to four months.

Confused flour beetle larva

Confused flour beetle larva

Full grown larva are about three-sixteenths inch long and tinged with yellow. These larvae feed on fine materials and broken grain kernels. The larvae transform into small naked pupae, which are white at first and then gradually change to yellow and then to brown and shortly afterwards into the reddish-brown adult beetle. The period from egg to adult averages about six weeks under favorable weather conditions, but is greatly prolonged by cold weather, as is true of all grain pests. The life cycle of the red flour beetle is usually shorter than the confused flour beetle.

Damage : Food sources commonly utilized by these insects include flour, meal, bran, cereal, pasta, seeds, nuts, grain, spices, cake and cookie mixes, corn starch, dried fruit, dry pet food, powdered milk, and even dried flower arrangements. Damage consists of actual consumption of the food source and contamination of the material with insects, shed skins, and fecal material. Infestations also impart “off” colors, odors, and flavors to the food.

Management: The first step in managing an infestation is to find and remove the source of the infestation . Flour beetles can feed and survive on even the smallest bits of grain, so cleaning is a crucial part of controlling these pests. When attempting to locate the source, be sure to consider all likely food items including, dry pet food, dried flowers, nuts, birdseed, and all grain products. Be sure to look for “leaky packages.” Small bits of meal or grain spilling from a package are often a signal that an infestation is presents.

Confused flour beetle Damage

Confused flour beetle Damage

Be sure to locate all infested material and discard it by placing the material into a sealed bag or container and throwing it into an outside garbage container. You may also place the infested material into a freezer for four to five days. These beetles may survive freezer times shorter than this.

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