Red Flour Beetles are a small reddish beetle that measures around 3/16th of an inch long when fully grown. They are among the most common of all pantry and cabinet infesting beetles and are easily mistaken for Confused Flour Beetles or Saw Toothed Beetles. There are a few differences between the species which are subtle and generally only a trained eye can see. The two most common differences include the antenna and the thorax.
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RED FLOUR BEETLE BIOLOGY
On the Red Flour Beetle, the antenna come to an abrupt end after 3 segments. On the Confused Flour Beetle the antenna gradually lengthen with 4 segments at the end.
Additionally, the thorax of the Red Flour Beetle has curved sides whereas the Confused Flour Beetle has a thorax which is straight.
And though Red Flour beetles commonly fly, you won’t see Confused Flour beetles take to the air. Though they have wings, its believed they do not fly.
Most important, however, is that control for all three species of these beetles is the same.
Also, though their biology is slightly different, these beetles will present a persistent and formidable foe once established in the home. This article will describe some basic biology of this insect and then detail what must be done to eliminate current and active infestations.
RED FLOUR BEETLE DISTRIBUTION
Red Flour Beetles have been around a long time. They were very much a pest to civilization thousands of years ago. This is probably due to the fact that most ancient civilizations used flour as a main food ingredient. Red Flour Beetles thrive on the dust of flour though they will readily feed on just about anything found in the home intended for people or pets.
Generally found in the most southern states of America, Red Flour Beetles tend to be more comfortable in warmer climates. However, they can and do readily survive winters in the confines of any heated house. Once inside, they will readily feed upon pet food, cereal, pasta, spices, rodenticide, dried fruit and vegetables, eggs of other insects, nuts, grass seed and just about anything which can provide nutrition. Though they can be brought home with just about anything bought at the grocery store, Red Flour beetles are quite able to chew their way into just about any food they want.
RED FLOUR BEETLE PROBLEMS
Unlike most pantry pests, Red Flour Beetles can find food which is well hidden and protected. Their strong chewing mouth parts will allow them to access food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. All that is needed is the scent of something worthwhile inside and they will make every attempt to find their way inside.
Red Flour Beetles live a long time. Average life is 3-5 years which is quite long for an insect so small. Adult females will lay a few eggs daily which will amount to 300-500 over their life time. Eggs will hatch in a couple of weeks and start to feed immediately. Larva will go through many instars or developing stages – as many as 20 – before they reach adulthood. The number of stages will depend largely on the sub species active along with local temperatures and food supplies. This process will take 2-4 months before the young instars reach adulthood.
RED FLOUR BEETLE CONTROL
Whether they are brought home in cereal, pet food or pasta, Red Flour Beetles are a nuisance once inside the home. Like many other pantry pests, there are a few things which must be done to break their cycle once established.
Here is an outline of what you must do.
1) First, empty all cabinets, shelves and closets where they have been seen or thought to exist. Any food stuff which has them active must be discarded in sealed plastic bags. This will help contain them until the garbage is picked up. If you are not sure if something has activity, store it in a plastic bag and check it every week. If there are any Red Flour Beetles in it they will try to get out within a few weeks. If some are found, throw it away immediately. Since this pest is temperature tolerant, don’t waste your time trying to freeze adults, eggs or larva. Though you will certainly kill some of them, too many will assuredly live prepared to continue their cycle. Once food stuff which is thought to have activity is discarded, you are ready to prepare for doing a treatment. However, before you treat, vacuum all closets, shelves and baseboards. This will help to remove eggs which are too small to see. Red Flour Beetles lay eggs with a glue like excretion which helps to attach them to surfaces where food is likely to be available. This helps to keep them in place and vacuuming will help to remove some.
RED FLOUR BEETLE CONTROL AEROSOL
2) Once everything has been removed from the cabinets and they have been vacuumed, you can start treatments. The first product to use is DFORCE AEROSOL. This comes in a spray can with a straw attachment which makes it ideal for applying to cracks and crevices where both adults and larva like to reside. Be sure to get as many as you have – not just where you think beetles may be hiding. Red Flour Beetles are small, fast and quick to hide when ever people are around disturbing where they have been feeding. Many will go unnoticed and missed so it is best to treat every cabinet to be sure you get proper coverage. Let the treatment dry for 1 hour and all dishes and food stuff can then go back away without hazard to people or pets.
RED FLOUR BEETLE CONTROL SPRAY
3) Now that the cabinets and pantry areas have been treated, you may have to treat other areas of the home if activity has been noted. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored are prime locations for Red Flour Beetles to reside. One or two rooms like this will be easy to treat with Dforce but if you have several which need an application, get some of our PERMETHRIN which will be much more effective and thorough for large applications. Apply it with one of our PUMP SPRAYERS which will allow you to get good coverage quickly. Focus in on baseboards, moldings and floor joists if accessible. Since rodenticide is one of their favorite foods, be sure to check any bait placements you have done in the last couple of years. Attics are common areas where Red Flour Beetles thrive and then find their way inside living areas. If you have an attic with rodenticide, be sure to remove any suspected of feeding Red Flour Beetles and treat with Permethrin to insure migrating adults won’t be able to find their way inside.
RED FLOUR BEETLE CONTROL TRAPS
4) Now that you have treated all cabinets, pantries, rooms and baseboards where adults may be hiding, install some of our RED FLOUR PHEROMONE TRAPS in any area where you have or suspect activity. These traps use strong pheromones or sex attractants to lure adults. Once they crawl or fly into the holding tray, the thick catching oil will hold them for good. Set these traps in the back corner of any shelf or cabinet area. They’re quite discreet and easy to conceal. But if the area you want to use them is either dusty or subject to a lot of activity, consider getting the more rugged REDFLOUR BEETLE PLASTIC PHEROMONE TRAP. These use glue instead of a liquid to catch and hold adult beetles so they’re less messy in active locations. This design is made for use in commercial processing plants, grain factories and other sites where there will be a lot of dust and debris. They’re much more sturdy and by design can be in a “dirty” environment and still avoid trap contamination. The plastic outer-body shell of this design keeps the glue from drying too quickly in dry environments yet it still works well at gathering red flour beetles.
Either trap will remain active for at least 1 month but you should replace glue and lure sooner if they get filled with beetles or contaminated by water or dust. And even after the problem appears to be resolved, keeping a few in place to “monitor” the area is suggested. This way if you get another breakout, you’ll have a first line of defense in place as well as a way to locate the central nest site.
Red Flour Beetles can be a persistent pest once they are established in the home. To break their life cycle, you will need to remove any food which is infested. Next, clean and vacuum all cabinets or closets where they have been found. Treat with Dforce Aerosol to kill off hatching larva and migrating adults. The Dforces will provide several weeks of protection should any new eggs hatch or if any new adults come into the area. If you have them throughout the home, treat with the Permethrin to get better coverage. Finally, set some of the Pheromone based traps out in cabinets and pantries where activity has been noted. Be sure to keep the traps fresh so they are always helping by catching adults before they mate and try to reproduce. This program will help to break the cycle so that it will eventually run it’s course and disappear.