How to Get Rid of False Bombardier Beetles: Easy and Effective Methods

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We know you’re dealing with beetles invading your space, potentially putting health and property at risk. If you need help identifying and eliminating the infestation at the source, connect with our recommended local professional near you.

False bombardier beetles can be a nuisance for homeowners and gardeners alike, as they invade various areas seeking food and shelter. Learning how to get rid of these pests is crucial in order to maintain a healthy and safe environment.

There are various methods available to get rid of false bombardier beetles, ranging from natural remedies and pest management techniques to chemical solutions. In this article, we will explore these options, providing you with the knowledge needed to tackle those pesky beetles effectively.

For a better understanding, let’s put some methods into perspective with their key features:

  • Natural remedies

    • Non-toxic
    • Environmentally friendly
  • Pest management techniques

    • Targeted approach
    • Prevent re-infestations
  • Chemical solutions

    • Fast-acting
    • Long-lasting effects
    • May have environmental implications

By considering these methods and their pros and cons, you can make an informed decision on which approach best suits your situation and needs. Stay tuned as we delve further into these solutions and help you regain control over your beetle problem.

Identifying False Bombardier Beetles

Appearance and Size

False bombardier beetles belong to the genus Galerita, and are a type of ground beetle. They are similar in appearance to bombardier beetles, but they have their distinct features. These insects usually have a size ranging from 1/8 to 1/4 inch, making them relatively small ground beetles.

Colors and Markings

These beetles have a combination of colors and markings on their body. Here are their main characteristics:

  • Black head
  • Red or reddish-brown head in some species
  • Dark-colored body with a slight metallic sheen

Distinctive Features

Here are some distinctive features of the false bombardier beetle:

  • Antennae: Moderately sized, often only half of their body length
  • Legs: Six legs, with the hind legs being longer and adapted for running

Additionally, while not directly visible, false bombardier beetles are known for their defensive ability to spray concentrated formic acid, with some acetic acid and wetting agents present in the mix. This is different from true bombardier beetles, which spray a hot mixture of chemicals as a defense mechanism.

Comparison Table:

FeatureFalse Bombardier BeetleTrue Bombardier Beetle
Size1/8 to 1/4 inchVaries by species
ColorBlack or reddish headDark brown or black
SprayFormic AcidHot Chemical Mixture
DistributionNorth AmericaWorldwide

Remember that identifying false bombardier beetles can be essential in determining whether or not they are causing any damage to wood structures or if they pose a threat to people. By recognizing their appearance and unique features, you can take the appropriate steps to rid your space of these insects.

Understanding False Bombardier Beetle Behavior

Feeding Habits and Diet

False bombardier beetles belong to the Carabidae family. They are known as carnivores that primarily feed on small arthropods, such as caterpillars. These beetles are nocturnal, which means they are active during the night when they search for prey. Some key features of their diet include:

  • Focus on small arthropods as prey
  • Predominantly feed on caterpillars
  • Active during the night

Breeding and Life Cycle

The breeding behavior of false bombardier beetles starts in spring. The female beetle lays eggs that develop into larvae. These larvae then go through a series of transformations, ultimately turning into pupa. Finally, they grow into adult beetles. The life cycle stages are:

  1. Egg
  2. Larva
  3. Pupa
  4. Adult

False bombardier beetles have a relatively long lifespan compared to other insects, with their life cycle covering several months or more.

Habitat and Distribution

These beetles inhabit open woods, brush piles, and grassy areas. They can sometimes be found in homes, mostly in basements or around foundations. During the fall, they may seek shelter in cracks, firewood, and debris piles. Their habitat preferences can be summarized as:

  • Open woods and grassy areas
  • Brush piles and debris
  • Proximity to human residences (basements, foundations)

When around human residences, false bombardier beetles can be a source of concern mainly due to their defensive mechanism. They release a painful spray consisting of concentrated formic acid and acetic acid when they feel threatened. While they don’t pose a severe threat to humans or pets, the irritation their spray causes can make them unwelcome houseguests.

FeaturesFalse Bombardier Beetle
PreySmall arthropods
Breeding SeasonSpring
HabitatOpen woods, brush piles
LifespanSeveral months
Defensive MechanismAcidic spray
Harm to humans or petsMild irritation

Preventing and Controlling False Bombardier Beetles

Removal Techniques

  • Handpicking: One way to get rid of false bombardier beetles is through manual removal. Gently shake the affected plant to dislodge the beetles, then capture and dispose of them.
  • Traps: Pheromone traps can help control pests by attracting and trapping adult beetles. These can be placed near infested areas to help reduce beetle populations.

Protective Measures

  • Seal Cracks: Sealing any cracks in wood structures and wood furniture can prevent false powderpost beetles (bostrichid beetles) from laying their eggs.
  • Chemical Treatment: Applying wood preservatives with insecticides (such as borate) can help protect wood from infestation by powderpost beetles like bostrichid and anobiid beetles.

Environmental Control

  • Temperature and Humidity: Maintaining a low relative humidity and temperature can inhibit the development of beetle larvae in wood, disrupting their life cycle.
  • Natural Predators: Encouraging beneficial insects like spiders, ants or other predators can help keep beetle populations in check.
HandpickingChemical-free, immediate resultTime-consuming, may not remove all beetles
TrapsTargeted, effectiveRequires monitoring and trap maintenance
Sealing cracksPrevents infestations, long-lasting effectLabor-intensive, may require professional help
Chemical treatmentStrong protection, long-lasting effectUse of chemicals, potential for resistance
Temperature and humidity controlLimits larval development, naturalRequires ongoing effort, may not be fully effective
Natural predatorsEnvironmentally friendly, sustainable solutionNeed to attract/encourage predators, may not provide full control

By utilizing these techniques, you can more effectively prevent and control false bombardier beetles, protecting your plants and wood structures from damage.

Call for pest control services now.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 – False Bombardier Beetle

Subject: What’s this?!
Location: New Market, Tennessee
April 23, 2017 8:02 am
Hello! I believe this to be a type of assassin bug but i’m hoping to confirm. It is the season of April, and found on the 22nd day.
Signature: Kevin Dame

False Bombardier Beetle

Dear Kevin,
This is not an Assassin Bug, nor any other true bug for that matter.  This is a False Bombardier Beetle, and according to BugGuide:  “Caution: These beetles have chemical defenses.”  In our opinion, the chemical defenses are more of an annoyance to humans than they are a threat.

Letter 2 – False Bombardier Beetle

Large Ant-Like Beetle?
Location: Atlanta, GA
April 1, 2011 5:19 pm
I found a large bug in my bathtub late last night. About an inch and a half long, six legs, long brown antennae coming to a point. Eyes appeared to be orangey. Small black head, small brown thorax (the same color as the legs and antennae), rather large oval black abdomen. (In the included photo, the angle of the tub seems to have played a trick; the bug was actually noticably larger than the paper clip.)
He (she?) was wingless, not shiny, and while he couldn’t climb the walls of the tub, he did manage to scurry vertically up an empty tp roll, with an impressive amount of hustle. No apparent weaponry… I couldn’t see pinchers or a stinger or even large mandibles.
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia. The weather has been temperate, but gray and rainy for the better part of a week. He may have come up the drain, because I don’t see another way he could have ended up in my bathtub!
Signature: Heather P.

False Bombadier Beetle

Dear Heather,
This little beauty is a False Bombardier Beetle in the genus
Galerita.  False Bombadier Beetles, like other Ground Beetles, are predatory hunters, but what distinguishes them is a unique defense mechanism.  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America website (PNAS) has an paper entitled Defensive production of formic acid (80%) by a carabid beetle (Galerita lecontei).  The article notes:  “Formic acid is a potent irritant, deterrent to vertebrates and invertebrates alike, and it serves ants effectively in defense” and the False Bombardier Beetle actually ejects the formic acid as a spray.  As a side note, we realized that on many of our past postings, especially the oldest postings, we incorrectly spelled the name Bombardier as Bombadier, and we have taken the opportunity to correct our errors thanks to your letter.

Letter 3 – False Bombardier Beetle

Subject: What kind of bug is this
Location: Dragon run river/swamp near Saluda, Virginia
March 13, 2016 5:50 am
Hi, hoping you can tell me about this bug found this morning in the house.
We live in Virginia, near Saluda, near the dragon run River/swamp. Found early morning on 13 March 2016. We are very wooded and rural.
Signature: James

False Bombardier Beetle
False Bombardier Beetle

Hi James,
We are currently scrolling through unanswered mail from March, searching for nice images and postings that may be of interest to our readership.  This is a False Bombardier Beetle in the genus
Galerita.  According to BugGuide:  “Open woodlands, under stones, leaves. Come to lights, sometimes wander into houses” and “Adults eat other insects, especially caterpillars.”

Thank you for the response and information.  I have bookmarked the ‘bug guide’ website.  Should prove useful in the future.
Thanks again,

Letter 4 – False Bombardier Beetle

Subject: Found this bug, what is it?
Location: Ohio
April 9, 2016 9:43 pm
Hello! I woke up one night to find this bug crawling on me! It scared the crap out of me cause my daughter was in bed with me and I was afraid of it hurting her. I threw the bug off of me and just tried to forget about it. The next day I found it crawling in my bathtub. I live in Chillicothe OH and have never seen a big like this before. I tried to look it up and found nothing. Help me out and let me know if it’s dangerous or anything. Thank you 🙂
Signature: Ashley

False Bombardier Beetle
False Bombardier Beetle

Dear Ashley,
This is a False Bombardier Beetle in the genus
Galerita, and like many other Ground Beetles, they are predators with strong mandibles that may deliver a pinching, but not dangerous, bite if carelessly handled.  BugGuide does caution:  “These beetles have chemical defenses” and by following the link provided on BugGuide, we found the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS site which has a lengthy paper beginning with “The carabid beetle Galerita lecontei has a pair of abdominal defensive glands that secrete a mixture of formic acid, acetic acid, and lipophilic components (long-chain hydrocarbons and esters). Formic acid, at the concentration of 80%, is the principal constituent. The beetle ejects the secretion as a spray, which it aims accurately toward parts of the body subjected to assault. ”  While coming into contact with the spray may cause local irritation, no lasting ill effects are expected for either persons or pets.  The chemical defense is a deterrent that might help prevent the False Bombardier Beetle from being eaten as the disagreeable taste will cause a predator to spit out the beetle.

Letter 5 – False Bombardier Beetle

Subject: What kind of Insect is this?
Location: Malvern, AR
April 12, 2016 8:22 pm
Found him in my house.
Signature: Isaac

False Bombardier Beetle
False Bombardier Beetle

Dear Isaac,
We just made a relatively lengthy posting on the False Bombardier Beetle a few days ago.  This beneficial predator has a unique chemical defense mechanism.

Letter 6 – False Bombardier Beetle

Subject:  Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Oklahoma
Date: 02/26/2018
Time: 01:19 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just wondering what bug this is
How you want your letter signed:  Diana

False Bombardier Beetle

Dear Diana,
This is a False Bombardier Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults eat other insects, especially caterpillars” and “Caution: These beetles have chemical defenses.”


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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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