Red flour beetle and the paradigm of edible pests


Abstract: Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it will be crucial to reduce the
area of animal production to increase the arable land for human consumption, so that SDGs are achieved as zero hunger and reduce losses and along the food chain, from a circular economy perspective. Entomophagy was very important in the evolution of Homo spp. and animal protein is essential in our diet. FAO recommends establishing entomophagy in Western countries to mitigate this need. Knowing that there are key-pests resistant to many conventional insecticides, why can’t we look at the problem from a different perspective? Our work carried out nutritional analyses of the red flour beetle (Tenebrionidae), a key-pest of cereals and derivatives, and resistant to most traditional pesticides, ‘cousin’ of Tenebrio molitor (edible insect) and Alphitobius diaperinus (edible pest). The impact of Tribolium castaneum infestations on the quality of wheat flour was also carried out using three different levels of infestation. Results showed that is possible to have some tolerance to insects’ occurrence and, in the presence of high infestations, to forward for animal feed is an alternative. This study can be considered a first step towards future investigations and a better understanding of more sustainable alternative solutions associated with infested stored products.

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