Ag Data Commons
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Data from: Distance-based decision-making in oviposition by Tribolium castaneum Herbst (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) on low- and no-gluten flours

posted on 2024-02-21, 16:50 authored by Alison GerkenAlison Gerken, James F. Campbell, Danielle Dryer

Red flour beetles have been known to readily infest wheat flour but their likelihood to choose other types of flours is unknown. Red flour beetles will lay eggs in many types of flours but their choice to infest low- and no-gluten flours remains to be tested. Here we test a panel of 14 different commercially available flours in three different choice assays. We find that the beetles lay similar amounts of eggs in buckwheat, teff, millet, rice, and rye flours but that they show significant declines in preference for sorghum, potato, quinoa, cassava, oat, amaranth, garbanzo, spelt, and corn flours. By using three different assays - a wind tunnel, a large arena, and a small arena - we can further parse out differences in whether volatiles or texture of the flour may play a bigger role in choosing these flours to lay their eggs. The number of eggs laid in each of these 14 flours, plus a wheat control, is reported for both the large and small arenas and preference or movement toward the flour source is reported for a wind tunnel assay.

Resources in this dataset:

  • Resource Title: Eggs laid in flours in larger arena.

    File Name: large_arena_choice_test.csv

    Resource Description: Number of eggs laid in each flour patch in the larger arena tested (45.7 x 55 x 8.9 cm). Flours were placed on a 110-mm filter paper and 20 mixed sex adults were introduced to the arena for four days. Dataset reports whether the arenas were on the left or right of the humidity and temperature controlled chamber (Side), the position from the door from front to back (Position), how many eggs were laid in the wheat (control) flour (Eggs_Wheat), what side of the container the wheat flour was on (aisle or wall, Wheat_Side_of_Box), how many eggs were laid in the other flour tested (Eggs_Other), what the other flour tested was (Other_Flour), where the other flour was in the container (aisle or wall, Other_Flour_Side_of_Box), date experiment was started (Start) and date experiment was ended (End). Eggs were counted after sieving from the flour patch using a dissecting microscope.

  • Resource Title: Eggs laid in flour in smaller arena.

    File Name: small_arena_choice_test.csv

    Resource Description: Number of eggs laid in each patch of flour in smaller arena tested (90-mm petri dish). Flour was placed on a 30-mm filter paper on opposite sides of the arena. A single female was introduced to the arena for 48 hours. Eggs were then sieved from the flour and counted using a dissecting microscope. Data reported include what alternative flour was present (Treatment), replicate within each block (rep), the number of eggs counted (egg_count), when the arena was set up and the female introduced (setup), when the eggs were counted (count), what of six blocks was tested (block), and whether the flour patch counted was the wheat (control) or the alternative flour (Alternative) listed in the Treatment column (flour).

  • Resource Title: Preference for flour as tested in a wind tunnel.

    File Name: wind_tunnel_preference_tests_flours_2022.csv

    Resource Description: Individual beetles were tested for preference to flour volatiles in a wind tunnel with air flow of 0.45 - 0.53 m/s. Beetles were observed for a maximum of 2 minutes or how long it took for them to leave a 21.59 x 27.94 cm white paper arena placed 55.5 cm from the wind source and 25 cm from the flour. Each beetle was used once and 5 beetles were tested for each flour on each day. Choices are recorded as U for upwind (exited towards the flour source), L for left (exited left side of arena), R for right (exited right side of arena), and D for downwind (exited away from the flour source). Data presented are: Flour tested, Choice, Beetle (1-5 for each flour tested on each day), and Date that assay was run.


USDA-ARS: 3020-43000-034-000-D


Data contact name

Gerken, Alison

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Intended use

The dataset can be used to compare oviposition or egg laying rates of red flour beetles on different types of flours. It is intended for scientific use only as a way to characterize how at risk certain types of flour are for being infested by stored-product insect pests such as the red flour beetle.

Use limitations

The beetles tested here were raised for over 30 years on a diet of wheat flour and brewer's yeast. There may be different preferences for more recently caught strains of beetles. The beetles were raised and tested at 28-30C and 60% relative humidity. Egg laying may be different at different temperatures and humidity.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description


ISO Topic Category

  • environment

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

oviposition; Tribolium castaneum; wheat flour; eggs; buckwheat; Eragrostis tef; millets; rice; rye flour; potatoes; cassava; oats; Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta; corn flour; wind tunnels; texture; wheat; storage insects; stored grain; gluten

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 304

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Gerken, Alison R.; Campbell, James F.; Dryer, Danielle (2022). Data from: Distance-based decision-making in oviposition by Tribolium castaneum Herbst (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) on low- and no-gluten flours. Ag Data Commons.