Do Larder Beetles Bite? Examining the Evidence

Larder beetles are common household pests known for infesting stored foods, especially those rich in protein. While these beetles can be quite a nuisance, many people wonder if they pose any direct threat to humans in terms of biting.

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Adult larder beetles, scientifically known as Dermestes lardarius, are black beetles with a distinctive pale tan band across their wing covers. Their larvae are reddish-brown with tiny hairs and two curved spines near the tail end. Although it’s not unusual for homeowners to encounter them, you may be relieved to know that larder beetles and their larvae are not known to bite humans. They primarily feed on high-protein sources like dried meats, hides, and even animal remains in extreme cases.

Larder beetles play an important role in the environment as “recyclers,” assisting in breaking down and recycling organic matter. Despite their ecological contributions, it’s essential to maintain proper food storage and cleanliness to prevent infestations in your home.

Larder Beetle Overview

Identification and Characteristics

Larder beetles are common pests that infest various animal products and food sources with high protein content. To identify them, look for:

  • Adult beetles: About 1/3 inch long, black with a broad, pale tan, black-spotted band across the wing covers
  • Larvae: Reddish-brown with short and long hairs, two curved spines on the top of the tail end1

Life Cycle of Larder Beetles

The life cycle of larder beetles consists of:

  1. Adult beetles laying eggs in food sources
  2. Hatched larvae feeding on available resources
  3. Full-grown larvae searching shelter to pupate2

Appearance

Key appearance features for larder beetles include:

  • Adult beetles: 3/8-inch long, black, lighter band with six small black spots3
  • Larvae: About 5/8-inch long, fuzzy, two distinct backward-curved spines on the back end4

Behavior and Habits

Larder beetles exhibit the following behavior and habits:

  • Attraction to food sources rich in animal protein (meat, cheese, pet food)
  • Ability to bore into wood and soft materials up to 1/2 inches5
  • Presence in bird nests, animal remains, and bee/wasp nests6

Infestation and Prevention

Common Infestation Sites

Larder beetles are known to infest both indoor and outdoor environments. In homes, they can be found in:

  • Pantries
  • Cabinets
  • Food storage areas

Food Sources and Diet

Larder beetles primarily feed on animal-based materials, such as:

  • Dead insects
  • Pet hair
  • Woolen items
  • Furs
  • Feathers

Occasionally, they may also consume grain or seed-based materials1.

Prevention Tips

To prevent larder beetle infestations, consider these tips:

  • Store food in airtight containers
  • Regularly clean pantries and cabinets
  • Dispose of expired or spoiled food items
  • Vacuum regularly to remove pet hair and dead insects

Inspection and Extermination

If a larder beetle infestation is suspected, it is important to:

  • Thoroughly inspect food storage areas
  • Look for signs of beetles and their larvae
  • Contact a professional exterminator for assistance

Larder Beetle Issues

Do Larder Beetles Bite?

Larder beetles (Dermestes lardarius) are not known for biting humans. They primarily feed on animal products and protein-rich foods1.

Harmful Effects to Humans

Though larder beetles do not bite, they can cause other problems:

  • Contaminating food sources with their larvae1.
  • Damaging materials: they can bore into soft materials, even wood1.

However, they are not generally harmful to humans directly.

Distinction from Other Pests

When inspecting for larder beetles, it’s essential to identify them correctly and not confuse them with other pests.

PestAppearanceHabitat
Larder Beetle3/8-inch long, black with 6 spots2Animal products, protein-rich food1
Bed BugsOval, flat, reddish-brownBedding, furniture, clothing
Carpet BeetlesOval, small, black or brownCarpets, fabrics, food
MothsWinged, various sizes and colorsClothes, food, fabric

Some of the differences between larder beetles and other pests include:

  • Larder beetles prefer animal products and protein-rich foods1.
  • Bed bugs are typically found in bedding, furniture, and clothing, feeding on human blood.
  • Carpet beetles and moths consume fabrics, particularly natural and synthetic3.
  • Skin beetles (a type of carpet beetle) also damage fabrics3.

In conclusion, while larder beetles do not bite humans, they can cause damage to food sources and materials. They are distinct from other pests like bed bugs, carpet beetles, and moths.

Treatment and Control

Cleaning

One of the first steps in controlling larder beetles is cleaning. Focus on areas where fur, feathers, or cured meats are present. Regularly vacuum and clean pantries, closets, and pet bedding to eliminate food sources and hiding places for Dermestes lardarius.

Natural Solutions

  • Diatomaceous Earth: A non-toxic powder that can be sprinkled around the infested areas to dehydrate and kill the insects.
  • Traps: Sticky traps baited with cured meat can help catch adult beetles, reducing their population.

Chemical Pesticides

There are several chemical pesticides available, such as cyfluthrin, tetramethrin, and permethrin. Use them for crack and crevice treatment to provide residual protection.

Pros:

  • Effective in killing beetles and preventing re-infestation
  • Many options available for different levels of infestation

Cons:

  • Chemicals may be harmful to humans, pets, and beneficial insects if not used correctly
  • Some beetles may develop resistance to certain pesticides over time

Professional Assistance

When dealing with severe larder beetle infestations, consider hiring a professional pest control service like Orkin. Professionals have access to specialized treatments and techniques, ensuring the complete elimination of the infestation.

Comparison Table

MethodEffectivenessCostEase of UseEnvironmental Impact
CleaningModerateLowEasyMinimal
Natural SolutionsModerateLowEasyMinimal
Chemical PesticidesHighModerateModerateModerate
Professional AssistanceHighHighEasyModerate

Remember to follow the treatment and control methods as described to keep larder beetles in check.

Unique Circumstances and Environments

Larder Beetles in Museums

Larder beetles, being attracted to food sources, can pose threats in museums where animal specimens are stored 1.
For example, they can damage taxidermy and collections of bones or dried insects. Pest management in museums includes:

  • Regular checks and cleaning of displays
  • Sealing cracks and crevices
  • Using sticky traps

Managing Infestations in Bedrooms

Larder beetles may appear in bedrooms searching for a food source or shelter 2. Managing infestations in bedrooms involves:

  • Cleaning and vacuuming regularly
  • Properly storing food outside the bedroom
  • Discarding infested items
  • Sealing gaps where they can enter

Adapting to Winter Seasons

They can overwinter both outdoors and indoors, hiding in walls 3. During the winter months, they stay inactive.

SeasonBehaviorLocation
Spring/SummerActive, feeding, breedingFood sources, indoors, outdoors
WinterInactive, hidingWalls, crevices, indoors, outdoors

Footnotes

  1. Wisconsin Horticulture 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  2. UMN Extension 2 3
  3. Cooperative Extension: Insect Pests, Ticks and Plant 2 3 4
  4. Cooperative Extension: Insect Pests, Ticks and Plant
  5. UMN Extension
  6. Plant & Pest Diagnostics – College of Agriculture and

Authors

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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10 thoughts on “Do Larder Beetles Bite? Examining the Evidence”

  1. I found 2 of these beetles in my cat’s food dish. Could they have been in his dry cat food when I purchased it? I also found another on the kitchen floor (about 5 feet from cat food dish) and one in the bathroom about 2 days later (about 15 feet from food dish).

    Reply
    • Yes, it is entirely possible to buy dry pet food that has beetle larvae prior to bringing the product into the home.

      Reply
  2. I believe I will investigate the dry cat food theory Pat G. I am having same problem. Same bug. I never had an issue with bugs until we had indoor cats a couple years ago.

    Reply
  3. I don’t have pets. The exterminator comes weekly. I see these beetles throughout my entire house. They used to just be visible on the floors. Now they have become more aggressive. Today, I found one crawling on my BED and on the dresser. How do you get rid of these pest???

    Reply

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