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Rust Red Flour Beetle

Rust Red Flour Beetle (Tribolium castaneum)

Rust Red Flour Beetle (Tribolium castaneum)

Structure, Appearance and Characteristics


  • Small reddish brown in colour.
  • Grooved wing covers.
  • Size ranges from 2.3 to 4.4 mm in length.
  • Can fly short distances under warm conditions (not below 25 C).
  • Antennae ending in a distinct 3-segmented club.
  • Chewing mouthparts.
  • Can be confused with the Confused Flour Beetle (Tribolium confusum). The antennae of the red flour beetle are abruptly club-like with a three segmented club whereas the antennae of the confused flour beetle are gradually club-like with a four segmented club.  The sides of the thorax of the red flour beetle are curved whereas those of the confused flour beetle are somewhat straighter.

Laveae (the young):

  • Larvae are about 6mm long, white or yellowish in colour, with dark head, and 3 pairs of legs.
  • Two-pointed or forked termination in last segment of body.
  • Chewing mouthparts.

Life Cycle

  • Complete metamorphosis.
  • Average oviposition period 5.5 months.
  • Female can lay from 2 to 20 eggs per day and 300-400 eggs as an average total.
  • Eggs are whitish or colourless and adhered to flour particles by sticky exterior.
  • Incubation period for eggs is about 9 days at room temperature.
  • Number of larval instars can range from 5-18, commonly 7 or 8, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Larvae remain external to the grain.
  • Larval period length varies from 22 days to more than 100 days.
  • Pupal period approx. 8 days at room temperature.
  • A new generation is completed in 4 weeks at 30 degrees C and in 11 weeks at 22 degrees C but cannot will not be completed at temperatures less than 20 degrees C.
  • Adults can live for more than 3 years, average life of 200 days.
  • Under optimum conditions, adult population can multiply 70 times within 4 weeks.


Insect of warmer climates. Found in cereal mills, food processing plants, grocery stores, domestic households, ships.


Omnivorous but favours grain dust and milled cereals, especially of high moisture content. Capable of infesting sound grain but not commonly known for doing so. Other materials favoured include peas, beans, shelled nuts, oilseeds, dried fruits, spices.

Pest Status

Extremely important pest of flour but can infest a variety of food-stuffs. In large numbers can cause flour to turn greyish in colour and mould more quickly. Can leave a disagreeable taste and odour in flour because of secretions from scent glands. Both adults and larvae are considered pests since both live on the same food source.


Strengths include a high reproductive rate, quick maturity to adult stage, high reproduction in the early stages of adulthood and easy dispersal and migration which means a new colony can start quickly with only a few individuals to begin. Weaknesses include the need for optimum temperature, moisture content and relative humidity before prolific breeding will occur.

Control measures include hygiene (incoming stock inspection, stock rotation, stock segregation, spillage control, warehouse design), aeration, drying, exclusion (screens etc.), chemical treatments (eg. surface sprays).  The objective of control measures is to STOP and infestation from occurring in the first instance. 

To remove a population from store products may require extreme measures such as fumigation or removal of the infected product from the premises followed by implementing adequate hygiene measures and chemical treatments to eliminate existing populations which may still exist in the storage area.  Being a secondary pest means direct treatment of the commodity may be much more difficult.

Our licensed technicians can assist you with a flexible, tailored solution to meet your needs and prevent these pests from becoming a problem in your home or workplace. Please contact us to see how we can help you maintain an environment free of these and other pests.


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