Behaviour in the presence of resource excess—flight of Tribolium castaneum around heavily-infested grain storage facilities

  • M. A. RafterEmail author
  • V. Muralitharan
  • S. Chandrasekaran
  • S. Mohankumar
  • G. J. Daglish
  • M. Loganathan
  • G. H. Walter
Original Paper


The flight of Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) in leaving infestations and establishing new infestations, independent of human mediation, has received little experimental attention. This study focuses on the patterns of flight of T. castaneum beetles in the nearby vicinity of an environment that provides all requirements—that is, an environment from which the beetles are not likely to be driven by density-related pressures. Four separate sampling strategies were implemented, with each one focused on particular sites in and around storage structures (godowns) in southern India. Additional beetles were sampled from each focus area of a storage facility at dusk to ascertain the allelic frequencies of resident and flying beetles at the rph2 gene which is partially responsible for resistance to the fumigant phosphine (PH3). Results show that T. castaneum beetles clearly have a crepuscular flight pattern, with most flight occurring at dusk. Movement into and out of the facilities sampled evidently balanced one another, indicating that those beetles that initiated flight must eventually have returned to the same resource. Most beetles sampled from the bag stack surface during this crepuscular flight period were homozygous phosphine resistant at the rph2 locus (83.3%, n = 30). Conversely, most beetles caught in flight during the same period had at least one phosphine susceptible allele (86.7% above the back stack, 63.3% outside the godown n = 30 at each site). Explanations for the patterns observed are discussed, including resource abundance overriding dispersal flight, and the possible pleiotropic effects on flight propensity of phosphine resistance.


Flight Emigration Spatial patterns Dispersal Flight direction Coleoptera Tenebrionidae Godown Bulk grain storage 



We thank Mr. R. Surendran, Ms. Vinotha, Mr. Aravind and Ms. Vinothini for their assistance in the field. We also acknowledge the contribution of the Food Corporation of India and the Central Warehousing Corporation for access to the storage facilities in which this study was conducted. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Indian and Australian Governments Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (GCF010006: Ensuring food security: harnessing science to protect our grain harvest from insect threats) under which the research was undertaken.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest in regard to the work reported in this paper.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies that required human or animal ethical approval.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Health and BiosecurityCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganisationBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural Entomology, Centre for Plant Protection StudiesTamil Nadu Agricultural UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  4. 4.Department of Plant Biotechnology, Centre for Plant Molecular Biology and BiotechnologyTamil Nadu Agricultural UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture and FisheriesEco Sciences PrecinctBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Primary Processing, Storage and HandlingIndian Institute of Crop Processing TechnologyThanjavurIndia

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