Can Larder Beetles Fly? Uncovering the Mystery for Curious Minds

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Larder beetles are known to be common household pests that can infest various food sources and other organic materials. These beetles, scientifically named Dermestes lardarius, often thrive in areas rich with high-protein content, such as dried meats, pet food, and even bird nests source.

A common question people have about these insects is whether or not they can fly. While the ability to fly might not seem like a significant detail, it could affect the beetles’ capacity to infest different areas within homes and other structures. Knowing if larder beetles can fly will allow for proper preventative measures to be taken, ensuring a more effective approach towards eradication.

Larder Beetle Overview

Appearance and Characteristics

The larder beetle, scientifically known as Dermestes lardarius, is a common household pest. Adult larder beetles are about 3/8-inch long and black in color. They have a distinctive broad tan band with black spots running across their front portion, called elytra, which covers their wings. The antennae can be seen projecting from the head region. A key characteristic of the larder beetle is its oval-shaped body.

Some features of larder beetles include:

  • Oval-shaped body
  • Distinct color pattern
  • 3/8-inch size for adults

Life Cycle of Larder Beetles

Larder beetles undergo a complete life cycle consisting of four stages:

  1. Eggs
  2. Larvae
  3. Pupae
  4. Adults

Adult larder beetles typically overwinter outdoors and indoors. They lay their eggs in various food sources, which provide nourishment for hatched larvae. Once larvae are fully grown, they search for shelter to transform into pupae. The entire process from egg to adult takes about 40-50 days.

Habitat and Food Sources

Larder beetles prefer habitats rich in organic materials. They are commonly found in animal products, such as hides, dried meats, cheese, and feathers. They can also infest dry dog and cat food, bird feed, and even the remains of animals.

Some common food sources for larder beetles are:

  • Dried meats
  • Cheese
  • Pet food
  • Animal hides and remains

Homes may experience infestations when these food sources are readily available. It’s essential to identify and dispose of the beetle’s food source to control their population effectively.

Larder Beetle Infestations

Signs and Causes of Infestations

Larder beetles (Dermestes lardarius) can infest a variety of materials in a household. Signs of an infestation include:

  • Adult beetles flying near lights or windows
  • Dead beetles found near the infestation source
  • Larvae feeding on materials like animal products, fabrics, or even dead insects1

Common causes for infestations may include improperly stored food, particularly animal-based products, and a lack of proper sanitation.

Common Locations for Infestations

Larder beetles can be found in various locations of a household:

  • Pantry: Beetles infest food items, such as cured meats (ham, bacon), cheese, or animal feed
  • Storage areas: The beetles affect materials containing fur, hair, feathers, hides, dead insects, and natural fibers
  • Wall voids: Adult beetles may overwinter in wall voids, while larvae search for a shelter to transform into pupae2

Preventing and Treating Larder Beetle Infestations

To prevent and treat larder beetle infestations, follow these steps:

  1. Inspection: Regularly inspect pantry items and storage areas for any signs of beetles or larvae
  2. Sanitation and cleaning: Keep pantry areas and storage spaces clean and dust-free. Dispose of heavily infested food and material items3
  3. Proper storage: Store food in tightly sealed glass, plastic, or metal containers4
  4. Pest control: If infestations persist or worsen, consider using professional pest control services
  Pros Cons Comments
Proper Storage Easy to apply Rarely used Prevents
larder beetles      
Sanitation Easy to apply Can be time-consuming Reduces food
sculptures      
Pest Control Effective Expensive Needed in cases
of severe infestation attack      
Inspection Easy to check Can miss bugs Regular
inspection is key      

Larder Beetles and Other Pests

Similarities and Differences in Appearance and Behavior

Larder beetles and other pests such as rodents, flies, and ants can be a nuisance in homes and gardens. Here are a few key features of these pests:

  • Larder beetles:
    • Adult larder beetles can fly
    • Larvae can bore into wood and other soft materials1
  • Rodents:
    • Can’t fly but are skilled climbers
    • Gnaw on materials like wood and plastic
  • Flies:
    • Fast-flying insects
    • Can transmit diseases in their food-seeking behavior
  • Ants:
    • Highly organized colonies
    • Can carry comparatively large loads

Some pests infest stored food products, like larder beetles, grain beetles, and carpet beetles. Additionally, certain pests, such as mites and boxelder bugs, are most likely found in skin and other organic materials.

Managing Multiple Pest Infestations

Managing different pests at once may require different control methods. Here are some steps to handle multiple infestations:

  1. Identify the pests: Knowing the specific pests will help determine the right control methods.
  2. Inspect the infested areas: Check stored food, skin, and nesting materials to gauge the infestation size.
  3. Control measures:
    • Rodents: Use traps or baits to control the population.
    • Insects: Apply appropriate insecticides or introduce beneficial insects like lady beetles for natural control5.
    • Mites: Maintain proper hygiene and use targeted miticides.
  4. Monitor: After implementing control measures, monitor the area for the success of the methods and any remaining pests.
Pests Control Method Pros Cons
Rodents Traps & Baits Effective if placed correctly May require time to reduce population
Insects Insecticides Can control specific pests May harm beneficial insects
Mites Miticides & Hygiene Reduces infestations Requires regular cleaning and upkeep

Natural and Chemical Control Methods

Using Natural Remedies

One way to control larder beetles is by using natural remedies, such as:

  • Diatomaceous earth: A fine powder made of crushed fossils which can be applied in infested areas to eliminate beetles and larvae.
  • Vinegar and bleach: Diluted solutions of vinegar or bleach can be used for cleaning infested storage areas, as they act as disinfectants.
  • Maintaining low humidity and light: By keeping storage areas dry and well-lit, you can create an unfavorable environment for the beetles, hindering their growth and reproduction.

Applying Insecticides

Insecticides, such as pyrethrins, permethrin, and growth regulators, can also be used to control larder beetles. Below is a comparison table of these insecticides.

Insecticide Usage Pros Cons
Pyrethrin Spray in infested areas Low toxicity, rapid effect Not so long-lasting
Permethrin Apply to surfaces where larder beetles are present Long-lasting, cost-effective Moderate toxicity, could harm beneficial insects
Growth regulator Apply to infested sites, affects larvae development Inhibits beetle reproduction, long-lasting Slower effect, needs to be combined with other insecticides

Recognizing Larder Beetles

To manage larder beetle infestations in an effective manner, it is essential to identify their characteristics:

  • Adults are brown or black beetles, 1/4 to 3/8 inches in length
  • They have a grayish-yellow band with six dark spots on their wing covers
  • Larvae are dark brown and hairy, about 1/2 inch long when fully grown

Understanding their lifecycle, reproduction patterns, overwintering habits, and dietary preferences as scavengers and dermestid beetles helps in controlling their populations.

Entomology plays a crucial role in finding effective natural and chemical control methods to deal with these insects. By addressing larder beetle infestations both indoors and outside, you can protect your storage areas from harm.

Bug Control Recommendation Tool

What type of pest are you dealing with?

How severe is the infestation?

Do you require child/pet/garden safe treatments (organic)?

Are you willing to monitor and maintain the treatment yourself?


Larder Beetles in Unique Settings

Larder Beetles in Taxidermy and Entomology Collections

Larder beetles are known to thrive on high protein food sources, which makes them a potential threat to taxidermy and entomology collections. These beetles can cause damage by burrowing into the preserved specimens and consuming the organic material within. Some common signs of larder beetle infestation in these settings include:

  • Small holes in the specimens
  • Presence of larvae or adult beetles on or near the specimens

To prevent larder beetles in these collections, ensure proper storage conditions and regularly inspect for any signs of infestation.

Dealing with Larder Beetles in Animal Feed and Pet Food

Larder beetles are known to infest animal feed and dry pet food, such as dog food. In homes, pet food infestations often originate from infested bird feed or rodent baits. To deal with this type of infestation, consider the following steps:

  • Carefully inspect the food for signs of larder beetles
  • Store pet food and animal feed in sealed containers
  • Regularly clean the storage areas and feeding spaces

Furthermore, some pros and cons of using pest control methods to deal with larder beetles in these settings include:

Pros Cons
Effectively eliminates larder beetles May require professional assistance, increasing costs
Prevents potential trigger of allergies Some methods might involve chemicals that pose a risk to pets

In conclusion, it is essential to remain vigilant and proactive when dealing with larder beetles, especially in unique settings like taxidermy and pet food storage. Regular inspection, proper storage, and timely intervention can help prevent and control larder beetle infestations.

Footnotes

  1. https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/files/2014/11/Larder-Beetles.pdf 2
  2. https://extension.umn.edu/product-and-houseplant-pests/larder-beetles
  3. https://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/ipddl/publications/5026e/
  4. https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/larder-beetles/
  5. Lantana and Verbena: How to Combat Insects and Mite Pests

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: Bugs
Location: Golden Colorado
March 25, 2013 4:40 pm
Bug man,
Can you help us ID this bug? We have tried steam, spraying, cleaning, bombs and these guys keep coming back. I think we have killed very bug on the mountain. My wife says she has been bitten, but I don’t think it’s a bedbug? We live outside of Golden Colorado at about 8300 ft. In a log home.
Thanks
Bob
Signature: Robert Erickson

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Dear Robert,
This is a Larder Beetle,
Dermestes lardarius, and it is a common household pest found in stored foods.  No amount of spraying will work if you don’t find the source of the infestation.  We suggest you clean out the pantry and discard old foods.

Thanks Daniel,
We have cleaned the pantry and the house and have not found the source . We will keep looking …at least we have eliminated bedbugs! Like you said these guys keep coming back.
Could the source be dead mice in the basement wall. These are the only framed walls in the house? We also have a really old Freezer.
These guys don’t look like they fly?
Bob

Hi Bob,
We would not rule out dead mice as a food source.  Larder Beetles can fly.

Letter 2 – Larder Beetle

 

Bug?
Location: New Jersey – shore area
April 2, 2012 2:05 pm
Can you please identify and possibly tell me how to treat this type of bug?
Signature: RLL

Larder Beetle

DearRLL,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common household pest that infests stored foods.

Letter 3 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Idaho
December 8, 2014 1:40 pm
I was wondering what this bug is. It’s got a hard body it’s mostly black with a tan belt within the belt each side has 3 black spots. I think I might have seen it fly but I’m not sure on that one. I have found 3 landing on my bed and one in my sponge in the kitchen. I have a 5 month old and am wondering if I need to worry or if it’s just a nuisance bug. I live in Idaho if that helps any.
Signature: Andi M

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Dear Andi,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common household pest that infests stored foods.  It is not considered dangerous.

Letter 4 – Larder Beetle

 

What’s that bug… in Alaska?
Location: Kotzebue, Alaska
May 7, 2012 8:54 pm
Hello,
I get the feeling this is a common bug that I should know the name of, but I would sure appreciate your help identifying it for someone here in Kotzebue, Alaska (NW arctic coast). It was found in their house while vacuuming.
Thank you for your time and assistance…
Signature: MJ

Larder Beetle

Hi MJ,
This is a Larder Beetle and they commonly infest stored foods.

Letter 5 – Larder Beetle and False Bombardier Beetle

 

Help, gross bugs
I’m hoping you can identify these two bugs for me. The small brown and tan ones are suddenly everywhere in my house, but mostly in my kitchen drawers and in the bathtub.

The black and red ones are just mean looking, and these two were found dead in the bathtub, although I have seen them around other areas of the house. We live in an old farmhouse, and am hoping you are not going to tell me they are eating my house!!
Paula
Stockton, IL

Hi Paula,
Your small beetle is a type of Pantry Beetle, but we will write to Eric Eaton for more information. He just got back and writes: “The top two specimens are Galerita janus, a false bombardier beetle, family Carabidae. The other is the larder beetle, Dermestes lardarius, a frequent pest of stored, dried meat if I recall correctly.

Letter 6 – Larder Beetle

 

Not sure what kind of bug this is.
Location: Syracuse, NY
December 6, 2011 10:23 pm
Can you help me identify this bug? They show up every now and then.
Thank you
Signature: Brian

Larder Beetle

Hi Brian,
You are being troubled by Larder Beetles, a cosmopolitan species that infests stored foods.  Check the pantry for old food items and the source of the infestation.  See BugGuide for more information.

Letter 7 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Rhode Island, us
May 4, 2014 7:14 am
Can you please help me out I found this bug in my kitchen drawer and I don’t know what kind of bug it is… Thanks!
Signature: Jeff

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Hi Jeff,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common, cosmopolitan pest that infests stored foods.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: Bugs
Location: Golden Colorado
March 25, 2013 4:40 pm
Bug man,
Can you help us ID this bug? We have tried steam, spraying, cleaning, bombs and these guys keep coming back. I think we have killed very bug on the mountain. My wife says she has been bitten, but I don’t think it’s a bedbug? We live outside of Golden Colorado at about 8300 ft. In a log home.
Thanks
Bob
Signature: Robert Erickson

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Dear Robert,
This is a Larder Beetle,
Dermestes lardarius, and it is a common household pest found in stored foods.  No amount of spraying will work if you don’t find the source of the infestation.  We suggest you clean out the pantry and discard old foods.

Thanks Daniel,
We have cleaned the pantry and the house and have not found the source . We will keep looking …at least we have eliminated bedbugs! Like you said these guys keep coming back.
Could the source be dead mice in the basement wall. These are the only framed walls in the house? We also have a really old Freezer.
These guys don’t look like they fly?
Bob

Hi Bob,
We would not rule out dead mice as a food source.  Larder Beetles can fly.

Letter 2 – Larder Beetle

 

Bug?
Location: New Jersey – shore area
April 2, 2012 2:05 pm
Can you please identify and possibly tell me how to treat this type of bug?
Signature: RLL

Larder Beetle

DearRLL,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common household pest that infests stored foods.

Letter 3 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Idaho
December 8, 2014 1:40 pm
I was wondering what this bug is. It’s got a hard body it’s mostly black with a tan belt within the belt each side has 3 black spots. I think I might have seen it fly but I’m not sure on that one. I have found 3 landing on my bed and one in my sponge in the kitchen. I have a 5 month old and am wondering if I need to worry or if it’s just a nuisance bug. I live in Idaho if that helps any.
Signature: Andi M

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Dear Andi,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common household pest that infests stored foods.  It is not considered dangerous.

Letter 4 – Larder Beetle

 

What’s that bug… in Alaska?
Location: Kotzebue, Alaska
May 7, 2012 8:54 pm
Hello,
I get the feeling this is a common bug that I should know the name of, but I would sure appreciate your help identifying it for someone here in Kotzebue, Alaska (NW arctic coast). It was found in their house while vacuuming.
Thank you for your time and assistance…
Signature: MJ

Larder Beetle

Hi MJ,
This is a Larder Beetle and they commonly infest stored foods.

Letter 5 – Larder Beetle and False Bombardier Beetle

 

Help, gross bugs
I’m hoping you can identify these two bugs for me. The small brown and tan ones are suddenly everywhere in my house, but mostly in my kitchen drawers and in the bathtub.

The black and red ones are just mean looking, and these two were found dead in the bathtub, although I have seen them around other areas of the house. We live in an old farmhouse, and am hoping you are not going to tell me they are eating my house!!
Paula
Stockton, IL

Hi Paula,
Your small beetle is a type of Pantry Beetle, but we will write to Eric Eaton for more information. He just got back and writes: “The top two specimens are Galerita janus, a false bombardier beetle, family Carabidae. The other is the larder beetle, Dermestes lardarius, a frequent pest of stored, dried meat if I recall correctly.

Letter 6 – Larder Beetle

 

Not sure what kind of bug this is.
Location: Syracuse, NY
December 6, 2011 10:23 pm
Can you help me identify this bug? They show up every now and then.
Thank you
Signature: Brian

Larder Beetle

Hi Brian,
You are being troubled by Larder Beetles, a cosmopolitan species that infests stored foods.  Check the pantry for old food items and the source of the infestation.  See BugGuide for more information.

Letter 7 – Larder Beetle

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Rhode Island, us
May 4, 2014 7:14 am
Can you please help me out I found this bug in my kitchen drawer and I don’t know what kind of bug it is… Thanks!
Signature: Jeff

Larder Beetle
Larder Beetle

Hi Jeff,
This is a Larder Beetle, a common, cosmopolitan pest that infests stored foods.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Larder Beetle

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29 Comments. Leave new

  • I can confirm that larder beetles will feast on dead critters. About 10 years ago mice got into our house through a badly sealed pet door, and the resulting infestation took pretty much forever to get rid of – the acquisition of our cat was a direct result of our rodent battle. Anyways, periodically we would find perfect mouse skeletons under furniture, and every time there would be a cluster of larder beetle larval exuviae mixed in with the remaining bits of fur. We have since witnessed the same “food chain” evidence when the cat, who is still with us, manages to sneak some bit of unfortunate prey into the house, to be found much later in a corner of the basement. Very efficient scavengers, those little bug-gers!

    Reply
    • Sadly, they also seem to have a fondness for stored foods and museum specimens, depending upon the species.

      Reply
  • I am seeing the same bugs in my house every since i changed my windows. I am not from Alaska but live in NY. How can you get rid of them. I have tried everything.

    Reply
  • im finding these in my bed why

    Reply
  • Over the past two months we began finding these around our house. We have cleaned the house from top to bottom. If these bugs are attracted to water this could have been what attracted them to our house when we had a shower leak. We’ve now caulked around the shower, are making sure we wipe up well after showers, (etc..) and also had a repairman fix the leaky shower head.
    Is there any spray or anything that would be ‘extra’ efficient? I would appreciate any feedback.

    Thanks!

    Pam N
    Anchorage, AK

    #waterbeetles #solutionstobugproblem #ridmyhouseofbugs

    Reply
    • I have been asking the same questions. They also go after dry food esp dog food
      I have tried the same things you did. I did see some spray on Amazon but no good reviews. If you find out let me know. Thanks

      Reply
  • I often find these under a pile of laundry or in the corner where the dig hair gathers. They are not in my pantry stuff… what else could they feed on?

    Reply
  • I just discovers these bugs.
    They were just crawling in the floor.
    It says they get in food. I never saw one in food.
    What if I ate one? yuk

    Reply
  • Do these larder beetles bite humans? My son is being bitten every night and we have found no site of bed bugs.
    We are going crazy trying to figure this out, doing laundry, cleaning, fogging, and more!
    After fogging, this is the only bug I found dead and found a live one on the couch this morning.
    Help!!!!

    Reply
    • We have heard it said that “if it has a mouth, it can bite” but to the best of our knowledge, Larder Beetles do not bite humans.

      Reply
    • Wondering if you found the cause of the bites? We have been experiencing the same thing. Only thing I see around are Larder Beetles and their Larvae

      Reply
  • I found a few these beetles a few months ago and they are now reappearing. I got some used furniture from a friend of mine who has multiple dogs. Could they have come from that? I also live in a 2nd story apartment and the very elderly lady underneath me as a bird. I read that like pet food and such. I don’t have any pets and my food is all.sealed up in cupboards. Could they be coming up through the walls? What would be the most likely scenario based on that information? They seem to like the bathroom and try going into a small gap between the seal of door casing and wall. I don’t know, I just want them gone!

    Reply
  • please help us identify some of these insects we’ve found. they hav been found virtually everywhere in my home. they’ve been on our hair, in our nose, on our eyebrows, in my mouth, even had one extracted from what I believed to be a pigsty until I removed it using sterile tweezers from the infected area of my lower eye lid.

    Reply
    • Have you checked into bird lice?

      Reply
    • Plz tell me more. My entire family is experiencing every symptom you have explained. Some people suggested it may be morgellons disease. I would like to know if you still are experiencing these symptoms. I can see your comment was left quite some time ago. I’m at wits end.

      Reply
  • how do I attach pictures?

    Reply
  • I think someone is mistaken, these larder beetles do something to break the skin. Whether they bite or their hairs leave marks. I have not seen any other types of bugs in my house other than more recently box elders. I think maybe the fact that more than one person thinks/claims that they have gotten bitten, this matter should be experimented a little further. I know that im not crazy. I also have never really seen them or their larva carcass in my pantry only where there is moisture. Also if they are attracted to shedded skin then maybe they should be re evalutated and put into the category as a cousin to a beg bug. just saying more than one person, a few here are saying they have gotten bit.

    Reply
    • I am seconding this motion.
      I’ve been bitten by something the last couple of weeks. At first I thought it was mosquitoes or something similar. Then I thought it was some kind of restless legs thing. There is a sharp sting that immediately goes away when I flinch.

      Well, now it’s 03.30 in the morning where I live, I was woken up by getting one of those “stings”. Instead of just glancing at the foot-end, I did a proper search around the foot end of the bed. I found one small/young Dermestes Lardarius at the sheet, then I searched a bit more, and found a further 3.

      There was some in the kitchen a few years ago, but I got rid of them after a thorough cleaning. Last year I got a (free roaming)cat, and I think this is the reason. Both because there is always dry food in(and a little around) the cats bowl in the kitchen, and because she catches mice/birds. To top it off, she likes to drag the catch into the bed if I’m not around to shoo her away.

      Reply
    • Correction…I have seen them in my pantry the larva and the carcasses of their larava….just found a bunch climbing around in my hermit crabs cage the larvae that is. They were feeding off the baby dried shrimp. They make my skin crawl. I know they bite…I swear to it.

      Reply
    • I just got bit by one of these they do bite

      Reply
    • Jasmine Dinkins
      June 7, 2019 7:01 pm

      Thats what i think as well this bugs bite so what are they really

      Reply
    • I’ve gotten bit by one today!! I felt a sting on my leg I pulled the covers back and there was the beetle. It’s been about three hours I still have a inflammation and its still painful

      Reply
  • We never saw any signs of the bug until we had an exchange student from Germany live with us. Shortly after she arrived her bedroom seemed to become a breeding ground for them. That was over 16 years ago. Professional extermination has diminished that population drastically to where we only see a few here and there, but it’s never been around food items and we don’t have much trouble with mice or box elder bugs. We do have those stinky Asian beetles. Would they feed on those stinky things?

    Reply
  • Douglas lewis
    April 25, 2017 4:09 pm

    Can larder beetles swim, or will they drown?

    Reply
  • I know this feed is a couple of years old but I came across it whilst looking to see if there are any symptoms or reactions when bitten by a Larder Beetle as I was bitten by one about an hour or so ago! I turn my bed down to air it everyday & didn’t see anything in my bed when remaking it. I had been in bed about an hour when I felt a sharp sting! I threw the covers back & jumped out of bed & when I looked there was a larder beetle in my bed!It bit me on the back of my thigh about mid way & I’m just a bit concerned as my leg has now started with a weird like achy, tingly, pins & needles. I was just wondering if anyone else who has been bitten by this beetle if they had any symptoms or reactions?

    Reply
    • I have gotten bit by one June 21 2019 and that Sunday the 23rd i was in the emergency room my right arm was swollen and it itched terribly,,it was hard in spots and very hot it hurt my diagnosis was cellulitis staff infection so you do need to look into them deeper on what they can do to you as I said they do bite !!! I’m on antibiotics now.

      Reply
  • I had meat delivered to my house a few days ago and the delivery carton was in my living room. I was working around the box and got bitten by a Larder Beetle – an hour ago! Yes, I confirmed it as The Larder beetle AND YES, They do bite!!

    Reply

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