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Observations placeholder

Marigolds, the red flour beetle and allergies



Type of Spiritual Experience


The red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) is a species of beetle in the family Tenebrionidae, the darkling beetles. It is a worldwide pest of stored products, particularly food grains, and a model organism for food safety research.  The red flour beetle attacks stored grain and other food products, including flour, cereals, pasta, biscuits, beans, and nuts, causing loss and damage.

Its effects on health are still poorly understood, however, it is known that it can cause an allergic response.

The red flour beetle is of Indo-Australian origin and less able to survive outdoors than the closely related species Tribolium confusum, the confused flour beetle. It has, as a consequence, a more southern distribution, though both species are worldwide in heated environments. The adult is long-lived, sometimes living more than three years. Although previously regarded as a relatively sedentary insect, it has been shown in molecular and ecological research to disperse considerable distances by flight.

A description of the experience

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):1690-6. doi: 10.1021/jf103937p. Epub 2011 Feb 3.  Repellent activity of essential oils and some of their individual constituents against Tribolium castaneum herbst.  Caballero-Gallardo K1, Olivero-Verbel J, Stashenko EE.

A tool for integrated pest management is the use of essential oils (EOs) and plant extracts. In this study, EOs from Tagetes lucida , Lepechinia betonicifolia , Lippia alba , Cananga odorata , and Rosmarinus officinalis , species grown in Colombia, were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. These oils as well as several of their constituents were tested for repellent activity against Tribolium castaneum , using the area preference method. The main components (>10%) found in EOs were methylchavicol, limonene/α-pinene, carvone/limonene, benzyl acetate/linalool/benzyl benzoate, and α-pinene, for T. lucida, L. betonicifolia, L. alba, C. odorata, and R. officinalis, respectively. All EOs were repellent, followed a dose-response relationship, and had bioactivity similar to or better than that of commercial compound IR3535. EOs from C. odorata and L. alba were the most active. Compounds from EOs, such benzyl benzoate, β-myrcene, and carvone, showed good repellent properties. In short, EOs from plants cultivated in Colombia are sources of repellents against T. castaneum.

PMID:  21291237

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Asthma and allergy


Essential oils