Confused Flour Beetles are a small reddish brown beetles which measure 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.
The most common differences include the antenna and 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 is that all three can be controlled using the same integrated pest management explained below.
And though their biology is slightly different, these beetles will present a persistent and formidable foe once established in the home.
The following article will describe some basic biology of this insect and then detail what must be done to eliminate 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 no doubt happened because most ancient civilizations used flour as a main food ingredient. Confused Flour Beetles thrive on the dust of flour though they’ll readily feed on just about anything found in the home. Generally found in the more northern states of America, Confused Flour Beetles are native in all regions of the United States.
No doubt this wide spread occupation is why they can be a problem in all four corners of our country. And one thing is for sure; once inside the home, they will readily target 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. Unlike most pantry pests, Flour Beetles can find food which is well hidden and protected. Their strong chewing mouth parts will get them access to food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. All they need is the scent of something worthwhile inside and they will set their goal to reach it.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLES
Confused 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 can amount to 300-500 over their life. 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 reach adulthood.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE TREATMENT
For an active infestation, you first need to empty all cabinets, shelves and closets where they’re active. All food stuff with activity should be discarded in sealed plastic bags. This will help contain them until the garbage is picked up.
If you’re unsure something has activity, store it in a plastic bag and check it every week. If there are flour beetles in the item, they will emerge within a month. And if any 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 some, too many will live prepared to continue their cycle.
Once food stuff which is thought to have activity is discarded, vacuum all closets, shelves and baseboards. This will help by removing 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 keep them in place and vacuuming will undue some. Plus, it will no doubt remove loose food they could otherwise feed on once they hatch.
After a good vacuuming, you are now ready to begin treating. To start, there is nothing better compared to our FSMP AEROSOL. Its the only option that can kill all stages of this pest and assuming you treat all the cracks and crevices, you can literally eradicate this pest with one good treatment using nothing but this product.
Watch this short video to get a quick summary of how it works.
As you can see in the video, this product is ideal for this pest as it will get down and deep where the foraging larvae will want to go to pupate.
FS MP has a slight odor but it penetrates cracks well and will quickly control all active stages of this beetle. Still, its smart to treat every 7 days for 2 weeks straight (3 treatments total) to insure you get all hatching adults.
Keep in mind that confused flour beetles are small, fast and quick to hide when ever people are around or close by. For this reason, many will go unnoticed and missed so it is best to treat every cabinet to be sure you get proper coverage. After treating, let the area dry and “air out” for at least 1 hour before storing away dishes and food stuff. But after that, everything can go back without any hazard present to people or pets.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY’RE NESTING?
If you’re unsure where the source of the beetles is located and have found them foraging all around a few rooms, you’ll need to consider a good “surface spray”.
MULTIPURPOSE AEROSOL is well suited for this task. Its odorless and can be sprayed on baseboards, even walls, without making a mess.
The following short video (less than 60 seconds) details why its so good for surface spraying.
Using both FS MP in cracks and crevices and then then Multipurpose as the surface spray will control most problems as long as you’re thorough. This means getting all their hiding spots treated along with any exit route they may use by covering it with the Multipurpose. The general rule is to treat and wait a week before retreating. If they’re still active a week later, spray again – especially if you see them foraging out into new rooms.
GOOD LIQUID SPRAY FOR FLOUR BEETLES
Once cabinets and pantry areas have been treated, plan on treating other areas of the home like carpeting, furniture, under appliances, etc. This will be critical for getting rid of them, especially if you’ve been seeing them all over. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored are all prime locations for confused flour beetles to reside.
The Multipurpose can handle large areas but its not cost effective to use. Once you need to treat more than 2-3 rooms, our best product for this will be BITHOR. Odorless, fast acting and long lasting, one thorough treatment can usually kill off any active in random parts of the home.
The following video summarizes why Bithor is so well suited for use in the home:
Focus on baseboards, molding, carpets, place mattes, area rugs and other areas where activity has been seen.
Mix 1-1.5 oz of Bithor per gallon of water and use the mixture to cover 800-1000 sq/ft. Treat every 2 weeks until the beetles are gone; once every 2-3 months to make sure they don’t come back.
You’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER to apply the Bithor. This model is easy to use and has an adjustable nozzle that can be set to spray a wide fan pattern.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE TRAPS
Now that you’ve treated all cabinets, pantries, rooms and baseboards where adults may be hiding, install some CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE TRAPS. These should be placed in the back of any cabinet where you suspect nesting or activity. These traps use strong pheromones (sex attractants) to lure active adults. Once they crawl into the holding tray, the thick catching oil will hold them for good. Set at least one trap per cabinet tucked away in the back corner of any shelf. They’re discreet and easy to conceal too.
Replace every 3 months or sooner if they get filled or contaminated with dust, etc.
For wide open areas like the floor or counter tops, install XLURE TRAPS. These are designed for use outside cabinets and they also use a strong pheromone type attractant. But they also use a food lure so they can attract a wide range of feeding pests.
These should be replaced every months or sooner if they fill up.
Confused flour beetles can be a persistent pest once established in the home. To break their life cycle, you’ll need to remove infested food or other items they’re targeting. Next, clean and vacuum all cabinets or closets where you’ve seen activity. Next, treat all cabinets with FS MP and all surfaces with Multipurpose Aerosol. If activity is extensive, consider spraying with Bithor.
Finally, set out some confused flour beetle traps where activity has been noted. Be sure to keep the traps fresh so they’re catching adults before they can mate and reproduce. This integrated control program will help to break the cycle so it will eventually run out and the problem will be gone.
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