Red Flour Beetle Control

Your flour is safe with Western Pest Services.

Red flour beetles are shiny and reddish-brown in color, they have a flattened, oval shaped body and are winged. They will use their wings to fly short distances. Adults will grow to be about 1/8th of an inch in length. Red flour beetles have distinctive antennae that abruptly end into an enlarged three-segmented club.

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. 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.

It generally feeds on finely ground or broken starch materials, such as flour or meal. Adults and larvae feed on broken kernels and fine-grind materials in granaries, mills, warehouses, and other places where grain or grain products are stored. The red flour beetle is often found associated with the confused flour beetle. These two species are difficult to distinguish, particularly in the larval stage of development. The life cycle of the red flour beetle is usually shorter than the confused flour beetle. They are both flour beetles but are different species, so make sure you have proper identification from a Board Certified Entomologist so that you know you are getting the correct beetle treatments.

how did i get red flour beetles

Unfortunately, red flour beetles usually come from infested food right off the grocery store shelf. It’s not anything you’re doing at your business or home. If flour beetles have found their way into your pantry, then the first step is to throw away any infested food and perform a deep cleaning. Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated first. Then take all the remaining uncontaminated items out of your cabinets or pantry so you can deep clean the shelves. If you have shelf liner, throw it away and clean where it was. Don’t forget to vacuum the cracks behind your molding. It only takes a few grains of food to attract a population of red flour beetles. Once everything is clean and you’re ready to restock, store food in tightly sealed containers made of glass or hard plastic. Note the brand of food you purchased that was infested and let your local grocery store know. And of course avoid that brand in the future.

where do red flour beetles live

Red flour beetles generally feed on finely ground or broken starch materials, such as flour or meal. Adults and larvae feed on broken kernels and fine-grind materials in granaries, mills, warehouses, and other places where grain or grain products are stored. So, basically, they live wherever their food is and then wherever it goes after. If they are in the grain at the farm, they will travel with the grain to the food processing plant. Then as the food processing plant packages it, they will be inside there as well. Right to the grocery store and unfortunately, your pantry. So they live wherever their food is at the moment.

Problems Caused

In nature, red flour beetles are not pests. They are the most destructive to food processing plants, grain farmers, and homeowners when they unwittingly bring in an infested package of food. The beetles do cause damage by feeding but probably cause more problems by contaminating the grain. Large numbers of dead bodies, cast skins, and fecal pellets, as well as liquids (quinones), can produce extremely pungent odors in grain. The nauseous smell and taste caused by infestations of red and confused flour beetles can result in poor feed consumption by livestock and rejection by grain buyers.

In most cases, the presence of live insects in a grain bin indicates that moisture buildup and molds are also present. The combination of these three factors can greatly reduce the quality and value of grain. Homes and businesses alike need a beetle exterminator to perform the correct red flour beetle treatments and achieve ultimate beetle control.

Not the beetle you have?

how can i prevent red flour beetles

Prevention needs to begin at the food processing plant or silo where the grain is being stored. Preventing red flour beetles at your home is a different story entirely and is difficult to do. Since they are usually inadvertently brought in on infested packaged food, you won’t know it until you open it up. If you do purchase something infested with red flour beetles, make sure to report it to wherever you bought it and avoid that brand going forward. Good sanitation practices and keeping dried foods in sealed, air-tight containers will help keep the infestation from growing, but keeping them out entirely is not an easy task.
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