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Red and Confused Flour Beetle Identification. The Red Flour Beetle's antennae ends with 3 gradually tapered beads. The Confused Flour Beetle's Antennea ends with 3 equal beads. A careful inspection with a magnifying glass will help.
Flour Beetles, or “bran bugs,” only grow to approximately 1/8 of an inch long. Their bodies are flat and elongated and are a shiny reddish-brown in color. While they do have the ability to chew, they do not sting or bite.
Flour beetles have two small antennae, and the appearance of the antennae is one of the main ways to distinguish the type of Flour Beetle you are dealing with. Flour Beetles have small wings and while the red flour beetle can fly, the confused flour beetle cannot. This important difference makes the red flour beetle much more capable of widespread infestation.
Flour Beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, just like a fly or a flea and lay tiny eggs that are clear to white in color. These eggs hatch into tiny creamy colored - brownish white larvae. Once the larvae are mature and developed,, they will take on a yellowish tint and are about 3/16 of an inch long. The larvae then goes through a transformation phase and becomes a pupae. The pupae is actually a soft shell inside which the matured larvae develops and fully matures into a fully grown adult beetle capable of reproduction and widespread infestations.
There are two types of Flour Beetles – the Confused Flour Beetle and the Red Flour Beetle. Both of these Flour Beetles have unique physical characteristics and qualities. They are also found in different areas.
Red Flour Beetlesor Tribolium castaneum, are believed to have Indo-Australian roots and prefer temperate areas, but can survive colder temperatures as well. In the United States, they are the most prominent in the Southern states. Also unlike Confused Flour Beetles, the Red Flour Beetle has the ability to fly. Their antennae consist of only three segments, and the tip is much longer than the previous segments. Also worth noting is that the Red Flour Beetle’s thorax is curved while the Confused Flour Beetle’s thorax is straight.
Confused Flour Beetles or Tribolium confusum, are have been distributed all over the world, but prefer coolor temperatures. This makes them more prominent in the Northern United States. It is believed that the Confused Flour Beetles originated in Africa. Confused Flour Beetles are not able to fly and their antennae have segments that grow from base all the way to the tip, gradually. Because their antennae grow gradually from the “bottom up” their clubbed antennae consist of four segments.
Adult Red and Confused Flour Beetles.(Actual Size - 1/8 inch). The Red Flour beetles are lighter in color and will sometimes fly. The Confused Flour Beetle is darker in color and will not fly.
Red Flour Beetles larvae and pupae.(Actual Size - 1/8 inch). The Red Flour beetles goes through a complete metamorphosis - egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.
Flour Beetles get their name because they most commonly infest flour and other grains. While Flour Beetles aren’t able to eat whole grains, they do feed on dockage, fines and grain dust. Unlike many other insects, Flour Beetles mate and lay their eggs in the food they are contaminating. The female Flour Beetle has the ability to lay up to 450 eggs. She will lay her eggs on broken kernels or other loose food materials.
It only takes Flour Beetle eggs 5-12 days to hatch. Once they hatch, they will immediately begin to feed and grow into larvae. It only takes the Flour Beetle four months to reach adulthood once hatched. Adult Flour Beetles generally only live for about a year, but have been known to live up to 3 years in some areas.
Flour Beetles are more of a nuisance than a damage-causing pest. They will not feed on or destroy furniture like many household pests. If they are discovered in grains or food products, the products will have to be tossed out. For livestock owners, Flour Beetles can be a problem because they enjoy feeding on the grains used to feed these animals and the animals will refuse to eat it if Flour Beetles are present. It also diminishes the value of the feed if they are found within it.
Flour Beetles prefer to feed on grain products, however, they will eat a wide variety of foods, if nearby. This is why Flour Beetles are such a problem for homeowners. They don’t just contaminate a bag of flour and that’s it. They have been found in the following food products, as well: dried fruits, sunflower seeds, cornmeal, crackers, cereals, nutmeats, rice, wheat, oats, wheat bran, beans, chocolate, legume seeds, vetch seeds, powdered milk, spices, pet food, livestock feed, birdseed, cottonseed, dried flowers and even poisonous baits.
Red and confused flour beetles can infest practically any kind of dried grain, food product or powder. This is why inspection for these beetles needs to be extensive and every single food product of this nature needs to be thorough evaluated and if a determination is made that flour beetles exist, then thrown away immediately. It is never a good idea to try and salvage food by freezing or sifting to remove the insects. Any food that has evidence of flour beetles is considered contaminated and simply removing the beetles will not remove the contamination.
If you find Flour Beetles early enough, then you won’t need to resort to insecticides to eliminate the problem. Removing the contaminated product by sealing it in an airtight bag or container will take care of the issue. However, if the Flour Beetles have been found in more than one or two food sources, or have been there for a while, you’ll need to proceed with a flour beetle inspection and control program. Simply placing traps or spraying for these pesky beetles will not result in any kind of control.
To prevent flour beetles from infesting your pantry or home you should do the following: