Effects of age, sex, presence or absence of food, mating status, quantity of food, and food deprivation on rate of and time of flight initiation of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst), were determined. Flight initiation declined with increasing age in both presence and absence of food. However, flight initiation was lower when food was present in the flight chambers than in the absence of food. In the presence of food, both mated and virgin beetles were equally likely to disperse by flight. However, in the absence of food, mated beetles initiated flight more readily that virgin individuals. Flight initiation was greatest when little or no food was present. The presence of varying quantities of food inside the flight chambers impacted the number of progeny produced by females before flight, but not the timing of flight. Rate of flight initiation was higher for beetles deprived of food for short periods of time compared with flight initiation of beetles with food in the flight chamber. Flight initiation decreased with increasing time without food. There were no differences in flight tendencies between males and females in the experiments reported here. Our results suggest that T. castaneum uses flight as a mechanism to disperse to new environments during almost any part of their life span and that this type of dispersion does not fit with the model of the so-called true migratory species that involves an “oogenesis-flight syndrome.”
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