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. 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.
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.
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.
WHERE DO RED FLOUR BEETLES COME FROM? ^
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 southern states of America, Red Flour Beetles tend to be more comfortable in warm climates since they can live outside the home. 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 exist in most local landscaping and from there can enter homes through door and windows during the warm months.
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. For this reason they can target homes from outside by using their sense of smell.
Red Flour Beetles live a long time. Their 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.
HOW TO TREAT FOR RED FLOUR BEETLES ^
Whether they are brought home or enter from your yard, Red Flour Beetles are a nuisance once nesting inside. Like many other pantry pests, there are a few things which must be done to break their cycle once established.
To get control, you first need to 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 unsure if something has activity, store it in a plastic bag and check it every week. If there are any Red Flour Beetles in the item 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 kill active stages, the remaining eggs and pupae will hatch as soon as the item is warmed.
Once the infested areas are cleared, vacuum them. This will help 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 reduce these numbers.
TREAT CABINETS AND PANTRY FIRST ^
Once everything has been removed from the cabinets and they have been vacuumed, you can begin treating. The first product to start with should be an aerosol. DFORCE ois a fast acting easy to use product that’s ideal for small, isolated problems. It will kill active stages and kill new larvae and adults as they emerge in the weeks that follow the initial application. It comes with a straw tube injector making the treatment easy to apply. Use it weekly as needed until all activity stops. After that, once every few months to insure they don’t return.
If you’re unsure where the nest might be located, you’ll be better served using PHANTOM. This active is what we call a non-repellent. This means insects won’t notice it and readily walk over treated surfaces. Unlike Dforce, Phantom is slow to work and will take several days to kill affected beetles. But during this time they will spread the active to other beetles so when it finally kicks in, it will kill that many more. For this reason Phantom is the better choice to use if you don’t know where the beetles are coming from.
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.
BEST LIQUID SPRAY FOR RED FLOUR BEETLES ^
Once the cabinets and pantry areas have been treated, you may have to treat other areas of the home too. 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 target. For kitchens and pantries, aerosol treatments are easy to do and efficient. But for the entire home, it will prove both costly and time consuming to use an aerosol.
So if you have to treat the entire home, go with a liquid application of DEFENSE SC. This material is odorless, mixes with water and can be applied to baseboards, cabinets, rugs and pretty much anywhere red flour beetles area active. Mix .35 to .75 oz per gallon of water and use the mixed gallon over 1,000 sq/ft. Focus on baseboards, furniture, carpets and anywhere activity has been noted.
For extra protection, add GENTROL EC to the tank mix. Gentrol is a growth regulator and will effectively prevent hatching larvae from growing into adults. The great thing about Gentrol is that it will translocate from where you spray it. This is a huge benefit for problems that are hard to isolate. Basically the Gentrol will move from where you spray to areas up the wall and even the ceiling. This way if any eggs are hidden out of site, they will be affected even if you miss them with the D-Fense.
Gentrol is mixed 1 oz per gallon of water and like the Dfense, a mixed gallon of spray will cover up to 1,000 sq/ft.
You’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER to do the treatment and most homes will require 1-2 gallons of mixed solution for a proper treatment to be applied
Liquid treating will prove to last longer compared to the aerosols but be prepared to treat at least once a month until the beetles are gone. Once the problem is under control, treat every 3 months to make sure they don’t return.
RED FLOUR BEETLE TRAPS ^
Lastly, you’ll want to set out some RED FLOUR PHEROMONE TRAPS in cabinets or pantries with 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.
For open floor areas along baseboards and under furniture, the REDFLOUR GLUE TRAP with its protective housing will be the trap of choice. 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 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’ve been found. Treat with aerosol’s in cabinets and Dfense for the open areas of the home for long term, efficient control. Finally, set out traps in cabinets and pantries where activity has been noted. Be sure to keep the traps fresh so they’re 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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