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Drugstore beetle

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Summer is the peak season for mystery bugs in the house. Yuck! If there are frequent bug visitors, it’s beneficial to know what they are. Drugstore beetles, also known as bread beetles or biscuit beetles, are a common pest in homes.

“The drugstore beetle is one of the most common home pest insects in the United States,” said Alabama Extension Entomologist Xing Ping Hu. “These beetles get their name from their love of stored products and, oddly, prescription drugs.”

Drugstore beetles feed off a variety of plant and animal products including bread, flour, pet-food, packed goods, even hot spices and drugs. Non-food items they feed on include wool, hair, leather, horn and museum specimens.

“They will eat anything but cast iron,” Hu said.

Identification

How can homeowners identify drugstore beetles in the home? Unfortunately, the beetles may be difficult to see. The adult beetles are usually obvious first. Only approximately 2 mm to 4 mm in length, the adult beetles are extremely small with a reddish-brown coloring.

“Under magnification, the drugstore beetles have fine grooves along the wing cover,” Hu said.

People often confuse them with two other small brownish beetles: furniture beetles and cigarette beetles. Aside from their similar coloring, the furniture and cigarette beetles differ in shape and size.

Where to Find Them

Drug store beetles are common in home pantries, warehouses, restaurants and kitchens. While they may not be a welcome visitor in the house, drugstore beetles are not harmful to humans, animals or structures. However, the larval stage feeding accounts for the greatest amount of damage. The larva thrive in dark, warm, undisturbed places.

The adult beetles can fly, though you may often see them crawling around. The beetles are drawn to light sources. Homeowners may find them in bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms and offices away from food.

“If adult drugstore beetles are found wandering around, it is essential to search thoroughly for the larva’s food-source,” Hu said.

Control

To fully get rid of the drugstore beetles, store grains and dry food items in air-tight containers. Remove all disused and old food. Wrap heavily infested items in heavy plastic, take them outside and throw it away.

“Clean your fireplace, pantry, underneath your oven, refrigerator, tables, etc,” Hu said.

With suitable hygiene, eradication is simple. Using insecticides should only be a last resort.

More Information

For more information on the drugstore beetle, visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.

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