Do Flour Beetles Fly? Which Ones Can Fly?

Flour beetles can be a huge menace to your packaged foods, but do flour beetles fly as well? Can they move from one room to another? Let’s find out.

There are typically two types of flour beetles, red flour beetles and confused flour beetles. Out of the two, it’s the red flour beetle that can fly.

These pantry pests often use this ability to infest the food grains inside kitchens and pantries quickly. Continue reading to learn about their life cycle, eating habits, and more.

Do Flour Beetles Fly
Red Flour Beetle Source: SarefoCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Types of Flour Beetles

The two types of flour beetles we mentioned above are only slightly different in physical characteristics and the areas they are found in.

In fact, they are so much alike that they were thought to be the same for a long time.

The name confused flour beetle does not refer to the beetle – but rather the confusion of entomologists over which is which!

There is one key difference between these two species – the ability to fly.

The red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) has the ability to fly. Confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum) does not.

There are a few other differences as well. Tribolium castaneum has three-segmented antennae, while the other one has four segments.

Moreover, they have a curvier thorax, while the confused flour beetle has straighter edges.

The red flour beetle thrives in temperate regions but can also live in colder areas.

They originally belonged to the Indo-Australian region but are also found in the southern states of the United States.

Confused flour beetle or Tribolium confusum, on the other hand, is believed to have originated in Africa.

However, they can be found in different parts of the world, but mostly in the northern states of the US.

Do Flour Beetles Fly
Source: Degesch, Source:PestWeb, http://agspsrv34.agric.wa.gov.au/ento/pestweb/Query1_1.idc?ID=-1919870117, This source is not copyrighted.

Do They Fly?

As discussed above, the crucial difference between the two species of flour beetles is that the red flour beetle can fly.

On the other hand, the confused flour beetle cannot get off the ground even for a minute and thus cannot fly.

What Do They Eat?

Flour beetles are scavengers and do not eat undamaged grains, but they can infest all pre-infested or damaged food products.

They feed on grain products that have already been partially eaten by other pests or insects.

You can find this beetle species in crevices or cracks of cabinets, pantries, and grocery stores.

They are a common pest at food packaging companies, where they are often found infesting food items that have become damaged during storage and transportation.

Here are a few food sources that they like to infest:

  • Cereals,
  • Livestock feed,
  • Crackers,
  • Dried fruits,
  • Powdered milk,
  • Vetch seeds,
  • Legume seeds,
  • Grain kernels,
  • Cake mixes,
  • Nutmeats,
  • Chocolate,
  • Beans, Oats,
  • Rice and even
  • Pet foods.

These product pests can attack packaged products that are already infested by weevils or other pantry pests.

Flour Beetle Larva CSIROCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flour Beetle Life Cycle

The life cycle of a typical flour beetle lasts for a year or a bit more. The female adult beetle can lay up to 1,000 eggs in a single life span.

She usually eggs in loose food material, like grain kernels. The eggs typically take five to twelve stages, and yellowish-white larvae emerge.

The cylindrical larvae go through their own five to twelve instars to grow about 3/16 inches long.

The matured larvae then enter the pupal stage, during which they stay inside a soft shell and come out as a fully grown adult. After this, the adult flour beetles start infesting food.

What Damage Do They Cause?

Flour beetles feed on almost every grain-based product and, thus, are a significant cause of trouble for homeowners.

They can damage both human and pet food by feeding. However, they are also attracted to dead beetles, their feces, skin, or anything else organic and rotting inside the food.

Even though they are medically harmless and do not poison the food, it is not advisable to eat food that is under a red or confused flour beetle infestation.

Therefore, always checking your food products for infestations before purchasing them is very important.

If you come to know that these bugs are in your area, try to switch off or dim the lights. Since the bugs are attracted to bright lights, it will help in keeping them away from your kitchen.

Source: By Eric Day, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va – http://www.genome.gov/pressDisplay.cfm?photoID=87, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46686789

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get rid of flour beetles in my house?

Inspect all food products that flour beetles might infest to check for the presence of these pantry pests.
Throw out anything that has a big infestation and leave out whatever you want to salvage in the sun, which will drive them away from the food.
Try to vacuum your kitchen cabinets or pantry once in a while and make sure that not even a crumb of bread is left behind.

Do flour weevils fly?

Red flour weevils can fly, while confused flour beetles cannot. Since they have wings, it is possible for them to move easily between rooms once they are in your house.
This is why you might find red flour weevils in your bedroom or even your bathroom!

What kind of beetles fly?

Amongst the two species, the red flour beetles can fly. It helps them fly around between rooms and also enter your house from outside through open windows or wall cracks.
They can access any damaged foods in your kitchen, like cereals, crackers, livestock feed, beans, chocolates, etc.

What attracts flour beetles?

Flour beetles are usually attracted to grains and products made from grains. Some examples of food they often infest would include dried fruits, spices, cereals, crackers, and rice.
These beetles are also attracted to light sources in your house.

Wrap Up

Rd flour beetles can fly, but confused flour beetles cannot. But both of them can infest a wide variety of food as long as it is already damaged by other pests.

These bugs can be quite a nuisance to homeowners, and any food with a big infestation should ideally be thrown away.

While they don’t bite humans or spread diseases, these pests should be treated as soon as they are found in your home.

Leave a Comment