The insects are about 3-4mm and reddish-brown in colour. The confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle are similar in appearance and habits. Adult confused flour beetles have the antennae gradually enlarged toward the tip; the antennae of the red flour beetle have the last three segments abruptly enlarged. Confused Flour Beetle (Tribolium confusum) cannot fly, but Rust Red Flour Beetle (Tribolium castaneum) may fly. In addition, the eyes (when viewed underneath) of the T. confusum are separated by a space equivalent to 3 times the diameter of the eye, whereas in the T. castaneum, this gap is less than 2 times the diameter.
Beetles attack milled grain products such as flour and cereals. These beetles often hitchhike into the house in infested flour and can build up into large populations on food accumulations in cabinet cracks and crevices and in furniture. The life cycle requires one to four months when temperatures are favourable and the female may live for as long as 2 years.
Control of these pests begins with the location and destruction of the infested food. Within commercial situations, the use of insect monitors is key to help pinpoint the infestations. A thorough clean up is advised, using a vacuum cleaner to get into the cracks and crevices followed by a treatment using a broad spectrum residual insecticide.