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Keywords:

  • colonization;
  • cotton lint;
  • dispersal;
  • fungi;
  • ground traps;
  • resource location behaviour;
  • suspended traps

Abstract

Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and Rhyzopertha dominica (F.) are common cosmopolitan pests of stored grain and grain products. We evaluated the relative attraction of T. castaneum and R. dominica to wheat, sorghum and cotton seeds in the field, near grain storage facilities and well away from storages in southern and central Queensland using multiple trapping techniques. The results show that T. castaneum is more strongly attracted to linted cotton seed relative to wheat, whereas R. dominica did not respond to cotton seed at all and was attracted only to wheat. Significantly more adults of T. castaneum (10–15 times) were attracted to traps placed on the ground, near grain storage, than to equivalent traps that were suspended (1.5 m above the ground) nearby. These results suggest that Tribolium beetles detect and respond to resources towards the end of their dispersal flight, after which they localize resources while walking. By contrast Rdominica was captured only in suspended traps, which suggests they fly directly onto resources as they localize them. The ability of both species to colonize and reproduce in isolated resource patches within the relatively short time of 1 month is illustrated by the returns from the traps deployed in the field (at least 1 km from the nearest stored grain) even though they caught only a few beetles. The results presented here provide novel insights about the resource location behaviours of both T. castaneum and R. dominica. In particular, the relationship of T. castaneum with non-cereal resources that are not conventionally associated with this species suggests an emphasis on these other resources in investigating the resource location behaviour of these beetles. This new perspective on the ecology of T. castaneum highlights the potential role of non-cereal resources (such as the lint on cotton seed) in the spread of grain pest infestations.