Managing stored-product insect pests by heating the ambient air of a food-processing facility to high temperatures (50–60°C), also referred to as heat treatment, is an effective technology that has been used since the early 1900s. The minimum temperature during heat treatment for effective disinfestation is 50°C. The effect of sublethal exposures to 50°C on the reproductive performance of stored-product insects associated with food-processing facilities is unknown. The red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst), is a pest commonly found in food-processing facilities worldwide. The adverse effects on fecundity, egg-to-adult survival, and progeny production of T. castaneum exposed as 1-d-old pupae and 2-wk-old adults to 50°C for 60 and 39 min, respectively, were determined in the laboratory. Pupae and adults exposed for the same time periods at 28°C served as the control treatment. Four possible reciprocal crosses were carried out among adults from the heat-treated (50°C) and control (28°C) treatments. The number of eggs produced during the first 2 wk of adult life, survival of these eggs to adulthood, and adult progeny production after 2 and 8 wk of oviposition in treatments representing all four reciprocal crosses were determined. Fecundity, egg-to-adult survival, and adult progeny production decreased by 17–63, 52–63, and 66–78%, respectively, when males, females, and both males and females were exposed to 50°C. These effects were relatively more pronounced in treatments in which pupae were exposed to the high temperature compared to adults, and in exposed females than in males. The impaired reproductive performance in T. castaneum pupae and adults surviving sublethal exposures to the minimum heat treatment temperature is valuable for understanding population rebound following a heat treatment intervention.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2