Confused flour beetles are the most abundant and injurious insect pest of flour mills in the United States. Badly infested flour is characterized by a sharp odor and moldy flavor. |
The confused flour beetle gets its name because it is often confused with its nearly identical relative the red flour beetle. The red flour beetle can fly, however, while the confused flour beetle cannot. Both beetles are most common in processed grain products, where their flattened bodies permit them to work their way into almost any package. Food heavily infested by these beetles often develop a grayish tint and take on an unpleasant odor.
Flour beetles are scavengers that cannot attack whole grains—they must rely on other insects such as rice weevils or lesser grain borers to first damage the kernels. They are know as "bran bugs" because of their preference for flour and flour by-products.The beetles do cause damage by feeding but probably cause more problems by contaminating the grain. In most cases, the presence of live insects in a grain bin indicates that moisture buildup and molds are also present. The combination of these three factors can greatly reduce the quality and value of grain.
Control and Prevention
Insect control: confused flour beetles
Discard all infested packages. Clean spilled grain and infested cabinet areas using a vacuum followed by soapy water. Store all dried food goods in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid to limit spreading if one food becomes infested. Consider storing cereals and similar foods in the refrigerator to limit stored pantry pest problems.
Prevention is the best strategy to avoid insect problems in stored grains. Proper bin sanitation before introduction of new grain minimizes the need for pesticides. Good sanitation involves the removal of old grain and dust in and around the grain bin. This includes removal of old grain from corners, floors, and walls. Any grain remaining when a bin is emptied can harbor insect infestations which will move into the new grain. Grain that is to be stored for longer than six months may need a protective application of an approved insecticide.
Before grain is placed in a bin, it should be screened to eliminate fine materials and broken kernels. Grain placed in a clean bin should be checked at two week intervals during warm months and at one month intervals during cooler months for the presence of hotspots, moldy areas, and live insects. If any of these conditions exist, the grain should be aerated to lower the moisture level and temperature.
Fumigation should only be used as a last resort. Because of the high toxicity of registered fumigants and technical knowledge needed for their proper use, a qualified pesticide applicator should be contacted if fumigation is required.
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