Cannibalism is a very important factor regulating population dynamics of the red flour beetle. After several days of feeding, the flour becomes conditioned by the beetles, which can affect rates of cannibalism. Flour conditioning is caused by an accumulation of feces, pheromones, and ethylquinone, which is a repellent produced by the beetles. We determined the effect of five different levels of flour conditioning on cannibalism of red flour beetle eggs and pupae by adult and larval stages. Larvae had the highest rates of egg cannibalism (12 eggs eaten over the 4-d period) followed by female adults (seven eggs consumed). Adult males had the lowest rates of cannibalism with only two eggs consumed. Cannibalism of eggs by females was correlated negatively with the level of flour conditioning. There was no effect of flour conditioning on egg or pupal cannibalism by larvae or adult males. Cannibalism by adult females may decrease as the level of flour conditioning increases because females may spend less time tunneling in highly conditioned flour and more time trying to disperse to other areas that are better for oviposition.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6