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Confused Flour Beetle & Red Flour Beetle (Tribolium Castaneum)

Facts, Identification & Control

The confused flour beetle apparently received this name because of the confusion which occurred because at first glance it is very similar to the red flour beetle.

Although they have wings, the confused flour beetles have not been observed flying.

Where do they live?

Confused and red flour beetles attack stored grain products such as flour, cereals, meal, crackers, beans, spices, pasta, cake mix, dried pet food, dried flowers, chocolate, nuts, seeds, and even dried museum specimens.

How do they live?

Adult females will lay up to 300-500 eggs over their lifetime. Eggs will hatch in a couple of weeks and start to feed immediately. It takes 2-4 months for the egg to develop into an adult. The adult is a small reddish-brown beetle, and is about 4 mm long with an average life span of 3 to 5 years. 

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Beetles develop in a four-stage life cycle. Scientists call this a complete metamorphosis. The stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult. The length of the life cycle also varies according to the type of beetle. Some beetles develop very quickly and they can produce more than one generation each year. Others, like some of the wood-boring beetles can take several years to decades to develop from an egg to an adult insect. The length of the life cycle also depends on the amount of food that is available for the larvae to eat as well as environmental conditions. Adult beetles often deposit their eggs near the food that the larvae will eat when they come out of the eggs.

What Do Beetles Eat?

Beetles feed on plants, small insects and animal fibers, depending on species.

A few beetles are considered pests in gardens and crops, although some species, such as the ladybird beetle, may benefit humans by killing harmful insects.

How do they affect us?

The beetles cause damage by feeding on food and contaminating grain. Large numbers of dead bodies, cast skins, and faecal pellets, as well as liquids they release can produce extremely strong odours in the grain. 


Broken or damaged food packages should not be purchased. Storage units and pantry shelves must be cleaned and kept dry. It is best not to mix old and new lots of foodstuffs.

Dry pantry foods and bulk foods should be stored in tight-fitting containers. This includes pasta, cereal, flour or anything that comes in a paper or cardboard box.

All infested foodstuffs should be discarded in sealed plastic bags.

Pantry Pest Traps have also proven successful in reducing beetle numbers.