Confused Flour Beetles are a small black 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 Red 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.
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The most common differences include the antenna and the thorax.
On the Confused Flour Beetle, the antenna gradually gets longer and thicker ending in a 4 segmented club whereas the Red Flour Beetle has antenna that come to an abrupt end after 3 segments.
Additionally, the thorax of the Red Flour Beetle has curved sides whereas the Confused Flour Beetle has a thorax which is straight.
And though both Red Flour and Confused Flour beetles have wings, only the Red Flour beetle will be seen flying.
Saw Toothed beetles are about the same size as the two flour species but their thorax has sides which are shaped like a saw – hence the name “saw-toothed”.
The most important thing about all these beetles, however, is that all three can be controlled using the same integrated pest management explained below.
Most importantly, even 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.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE BIOLOGY
Confused Flour Beetles have been around as long as Red Flour Beetles. Their history dates back several thousand years.This is probably due to the fact that most ancient civilizations used flour as a main food ingredient. Confused 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 more northern states of America, Confused Flour Beetles can be found in any part of the United States. Whereas the Red Flour Beetles tend to be in the south, Confused Flour Beetles don’t discriminate; they will take advantage of any place food is available – regardless of the local temperature. Once inside the home, 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, Confused Flour Beetles are quite able to chew their way into any food they want. Unlike most pantry pests, 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.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE LIFE CYCLE
Confused 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.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE INFESTATIONS
Whether they are brought home in cereal, pet food or pasta, 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.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE TREATMENTS
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 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. 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.
2) Once everything has been removed from the cabinets and they have been vacuumed, you can begin treating. Apply either DFORCE or TOPIA aerosol. These products come 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. Dforce is the stronger of the two; Topia is federally exempt from registration because it uses actives which are very safe for use around people and pets and considered to be the organic or “green” product of choice. Both will work; the Dforce tends to last longer and work faster so in the long run you’ll use less and have to treat less frequently but overall, the difference is negligible.
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.
Now if you’re unsure where the source might be, another aerosol to consider is PHANTOM. It uses a different kind of active compared to Dforce or Topia. Instead of being “acutely” toxic to insects, Phantom instead will take 2-4 days to kill target pests. But since its not detectable by insects, they’ll readily walk on treated surfaces. And once they pick some up, they will then be able to transfer it to others in their nest site. This means when the active kicks in and starts to work, it will affect many more than just the few that may have crossed over a treated area. Another benefit of Phantom is that unlike the Dforce and Topia, it doesn’t have an odor and it goes on dry. This makes it ideal for use in sensitive areas.
Phantom Aerosol: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/pt-phantom-17-5oz
3) Now that the cabinets and pantry areas have been treated, you may have to treat other areas of the home for complete confused flour beetle control if activity has been seen around the structure. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored are prime locations for 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 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 Flour Beetles and treat with Permethrin to insure migrating adults won’t be able to find their way inside.
Permethrin 10: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/permethrin-10
Eliminator Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/sprayers/eliminator-gallon-sprayer
4) Now that you have treated all cabinets, pantries, rooms and baseboards where adults may be hiding, install some of our CONFUSED FLOUR PHEROMONE TRAPS in the back of any cabinet where you suspect nesting or activity. These traps use strong pheromones or sex attractants to lure adults. Once they crawl into the holding tray, the thick catching oil will hold them for good. Set these traps in the back of any shelf or cabinet area. They are quite discreet and easy to conceal. However, the beetles will assuredly find them. But for bad problems , get at least one trap per shelf.
For open areas like the floor or countertops, install XLURE TRAPS. These are designed for use outside cabinets and use a strong pheromone and food lure that will get any foraging flour beetle to come around and inspect.
Confused 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 Dforce 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.
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