They're tiny, but, when living and working collectively, destructive.

In the United States, insects destroy as much as 5 percent to 10 percent of stored grains and grain products, said Bhadriraju Subramanyam, a Kansas State University Research and Extension stored-product entomologist.

"The damage translates into a financial loss of $2.2 to $4.4 billion annually," he said.

In developing countries, the loss can range from 30 percent to 50 percent of the crop, with significant losses from insect damage to processed grains reported as well, Subramanyam said.

Insects such as the red flour beetle occur in stored grain, thriving on grain fragments and dust, but prefer floury materials found in flour mills, feed mills, bakeries and food-processing facilities, the stored-product entomologist said.

Red flour beetles are reddish brown in color, and a female can produce as many as 300 to 400 eggs during her five-to-eight-month lifetime. The eggs develop from larvae to adulthood in 30- to 35 days at 86 degrees F.