Larder beetles are common household pests that you might encounter in your pantry. They are known for their appetite for high protein content food items. These beetles have a fascinating life cycle and their feeding habits directly impact their growth and development.
You may notice adult larder beetles in your home, which are black in color with a broad, pale tan, black spotted band across their wing covers. These beetles are on a mission to find food sources to lay their eggs, and ultimately, to provide sustenance for their larvae once they hatch. Some examples of their preferred food include cured meats, cheese, feathers, and pet food.
Despite being pests, larder beetles serve a purpose outdoors as “recyclers” that aid in the breakdown and recycling of organic matter. Understanding their diet can help you take necessary precautions to protect your food storage and minimize their infestation in your home.
Larder Beetles Overview
Larder beetles, scientifically known as Dermestes lardarius, belong to the Dermestidae family, also known as skin beetles. These insects are quite common, and in this section, you’ll learn more about them.
These beetles are usually black in color, with tan markings across their wing covers. Adult larder beetles measure about 1/3 inch in length. Their larvae are reddish-brown and covered with short and long hairs. They also have two curved spines at the tail end.
Larder beetles have a diverse diet. Primarily, they feast on:
- Animal products
- Dried meats
- Pet food
- Dried fish
- Dead insects
- Animal hair
These beetles can also become a pest in various environments. They can infest your pantry, food storage areas, and even commercial facilities. By knowing their diet and habits, you can take precautionary measures to prevent them from becoming a problem.
To recap, here are the key features of larder beetles:
- Scientific name: Dermestes lardarius
- Family: Dermestidae
- Adult size: 1/3 inch long
- Color: Black with tan markings
- Larvae: Reddish-brown with hairs and curved spines
Now that you have a better understanding of larder beetles, you can identify them and address any potential infestations. Remember, awareness and prevention play a significant role in keeping your environment free from these pests.
Appearance and Characteristics
Larder beetles are interesting creatures with unique features. Let’s discuss their appearance and characteristics in a friendly manner:
Color: These beetles have a distinct color pattern. Their bodies are mostly black, with a broad, pale tan band featuring black spots across the front portion of their wing covers (elytra) source.
Body: Adult larder beetles have a body length of about 1/3 inch. Their larvae are reddish-brown and densely covered with short and long hairs.
Legs: Like other beetles, larder beetles have three pairs of legs, which enable them to move efficiently.
Antennae: These beetles are equipped with antennae that help them sense their environment.
Black setae: You may notice these tiny, dense black hairs on the larvae. They assist in movement and protection.
Spines: Larder beetle larvae possess two curved spines on the top of their body’s tip source. These spines serve as a defensive mechanism against predators.
Now that you know more about larder beetles’ appearance and characteristics, it’s easier to identify them in your surroundings. Remember to keep an eye out for their distinctive color pattern and other features.
Life Cycle of Larder Beetles
The life cycle of larder beetles involves several stages: adult, eggs, larvae, pupate, and again adult. Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
First, larder beetles overwinter in protected places like crevices of bark or walls. As spring arrives, they search for suitable food sources.
During the summer months, female larder beetles lay over 100 eggs. It takes about two weeks for these eggs to hatch into larvae. Feeding on high-protein foods, the larvae grow for around 40-50 days.
After that, the larvae seek shelter for transformation. They are known to bore up to 1/2 inches into the wood. In this safe space, they pupate and eventually transform into adult larder beetles.
Here are some notable features of the larder beetle life cycle:
- Overwinters as adults
- Females lay eggs on food sources
- Larval stage lasts 40-50 days
- Pupation occurs in sheltered areas
Comparing the larder beetle life cycle to other insects, you can see that their transformation and need for high-protein foods are unique characteristics. Keep their life cycle in mind when dealing with larder beetles, as understanding it can help in managing their presence in your home.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Larder beetles primarily feed on a variety of animal products. Some common items in their diet include:
- Meat: This can be fresh, dried, or cured meats.
- Cheese: Larder beetles are known to consume various types of cheese.
- Feathers: These insects are known to eat feathers from various birds.
- Fur: They can also consume animal fur, making them a potential pest in homes with pets.
- Fish: Larder beetles are known to consume fish, whether dried or fresh.
Besides animal products, larder beetles may also consume certain plant-based items. These could include:
- Grains: Larder beetles can eat various grains, which may be found in pantries or pet food storage areas.
- Dry pet food: These beetles are known to infest dry pet food containers, feeding on the grains and proteins present in the food.
When it comes to the specific feeding habits of larder beetles, it is essential to understand their life cycle. Adult beetles lay their eggs in food sources, where the hatched larvae can feed and grow source.
- Larvae may infest meat products, cheeses, furs, and pet food, among other items.
- As the larvae grow and develop into pupae, they may also bore into wood or other soft materials for protection.
In summary, the diet of larder beetles is quite varied, primarily consisting of animal products, but also including plant-based items such as grains. Being aware of their feeding habits and potential infestations is crucial for maintaining a safe and clean household.
Habitats and Infestation
Larder beetles are a common pest that can infest various areas in and around your home. They are known to thrive in environments such as:
- Kitchens: These beetles can be found in pantries and cupboards, where they lay their eggs in food sources like dried meats, cheese, and pet food 1.
- Basements and Storage Areas: Larder beetles can infiltrate your basement or storage areas, as they typically search for shelter to transform into pupae 2.
- Outdoors: Adult larder beetles often overwinter outdoors, near animal nests, and in the walls of your home 3.
You might be wondering how larder beetles get into these spaces. Here are some ways they enter your home:
- Through gaps and cracks in the walls or foundations.
- Via open doors and windows or permeable screens.
To prevent infestation:
- Seal potential entry points around your home.
- Regularly clean and declutter your pantry, kitchen, and storage areas.
- Store food, especially protein-rich items, in airtight containers.
If you find yourself dealing with an infestation, consider the following methods:
- Heat treating items at 130°F for two to three hours or placing them in a deep freeze at 0°F for 24 hours to effectively kill adult and larval larder beetles 4.
- Inspect and dispose of any contaminated food sources promptly.
- Consult a professional exterminator for severe infestations.
Remember, maintaining a clean environment and taking preventive measures can help keep your home free from larder beetles.
Treatment and Control
Keeping your home clean and free of larder beetle food sources is a crucial step in controlling them. Regular vacuuming and inspecting areas where larder beetles might be hiding, such as cabinets and pantries, can help prevent infestations.
Some insecticides can specifically target larder beetles. Brands that list larder beetles or “general household pests” on their labels may contain chemicals like cyfluthrin, tetramethrin, or permethrin for crack and crevice treatments, providing residual protection against these pests.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic option for larder beetle control. Sprinkle DE around infested areas, and it will help dehydrate the beetles and their larvae, eventually leading to their demise.
If you’re struggling with a severe infestation, calling a professional exterminator might be the best solution. Pest control experts can identify the source and apply the necessary treatments for effective larder beetle removal.
To summarize, the most effective treatment and control methods for larder beetles include:
- Regular vacuuming and cleaning
- Using insecticides specifically for larder beetles
- Applying diatomaceous earth in infested areas
- Calling an exterminator for severe infestations
Larder Beetles and Other Insects
Larder beetles are known to feed on high-protein materials. For instance, they consume items like animal hides, furs, feathers, meat, cheese, and even dry pet foods source. Apart from that, larder beetles also have a penchant for dead insects and are often found in bird nests, animal remains, and bee or wasp nests source.
Now, let’s compare larder beetles to some other insects:
- Carpet beetles: These beetles feed on natural fibers, fabrics, and even pollen. They’re not into high-protein sources like larder beetles.
- Birds: Birds feast on a variety of insects, spiders, and small creatures. They aren’t interested in consuming non-living materials.
- Spiders: As predators, spiders consume insects and other small arthropods.
- Boxelder bugs: They focus on feeding on seeds, leaves, and young branches of boxelder trees.
- Rodents: A rodent’s diet primarily consists of seeds, grains, fruits, and some types of insects.
Here’s a comparison table to summarize key differences:
|Insect/Animal||Primary Diet||Diet Overlap with Larder Beetles|
|Carpet Beetle||Natural fibers, fabrics, pollen||No|
|Bird||Insects, spiders, small animals||Limited|
|Boxelder Bug||Seeds, leaves, young tree branches||No|
|Rodent||Seeds, grains, fruits, insects||Limited|
In conclusion, larder beetles stand out among these creatures due to their unique dietary preferences. They play a crucial role in breaking down and recycling high-protein materials in the ecosystem. This way, they help maintain a balance and contribute to the overall well-being of their surroundings.
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 Beetles
Small Brown bug with white/yellow stripe
January 21, 2010
We have been finding these bugs in our kitchen and family room area. The bugs look like a beetle type, they are small dark brown almost black, with a white or yellow band on their backs. We normally find them in the morning laying on their backs on the hardwood floor. I want to spray for these and I am fearful that they are wood eaters. We live in a timber frame home from the early 1970s.
South Central Pennsylvania
Your wooden house is safe, but you are sharing your food. It is time to clean out the pantry and search for the source of your Larder Beetle, Dermestes lardarius, infestation. According to BugGuide, this cosmopolitan species will eat food stuff and museum specimens. You may also need to check your trophy stag heads hanging above the fireplace or the bearskin rug on the floor in the den. Generally, you need to find the source of the infestation to rid yourself of pantry beetles and general extermination is just a waste of money as it cannot target the source, especially if the Larder Beetles are in edible foods. You should also check that bargain bag of dog food.
Thank you so much for the help. I thought they didn’t look like wood eaters, but we just moved down to PA from NH. Up there you had just mosquitoes and black flies (which ate my flesh and blood alot). Nothing else survived the winters for the most part. Southern PA has a zillion bugs, especially the annoying STINK BUG which I am convinced will survive nuclear holocaust, those things are more hearty then roaches.
Letter 2 – Larder Beetle and Larvae
Beetle and Larvae?
Location: Kotzebue, Alaska
April 18, 2011 11:57 pm
I am finding these beetles all over the house on the floor, and I just scooped up 7 or 8 of what I believe to be a larvae stage of the beetle. The worms appear to have six legs and at first I thought they were a type of mealworm but I have been finding these beetles all over the house. I live in northern Alaska, close to Russia and I had the bugs outside in sub-zero temperatures and they are still alive. It is strange to me that even with the extreme cold they are still alive. What can they be? The beetles are black and all have a white stripe halfway down the shell.
You have submitted a photo of a Larder Beetle and Larder Beetle Larvae, Dermestes lardarius. These are pests of stored foods but they may also infest museum specimens like stuffed animals. If they are not in your pantry, you may want to closely inspect your taxidermy specimens like hunting trophies. We are postdating this entry to go live during our holiday later in the week.
They are not only in the pantry, we have been finding them on the floors on the corners of the wall. Even with the best of insulation it is not un-common for insects and mice to spend the winter within a house’s insulation in our area so I assumed they were just one of our winter visitors waking up for Spring. The ones I caught are still alive and kicking somewhere outside so any future beetles I find are heading outside as well, thank you for the ID!
Letter 3 – Larder Beetles
Subject: Bugs in my Bathroom
Location: West Michigan
December 29, 2013 8:05 pm
Recently I have been finding these bugs all around on the floor of my bathroom. They are usually lying on their backs and look like they are dead, but when I pick them up they try to crawl away. They are approximately 5/8inch long. Are Blackish brown, with a tannish colored band around them. They don’t seem harmful, but I do not care much for creepy crawlies in my home. I have looked at hundreds of pictures online, but could not find them. I would really appreciate it if you could identify them for me. Thank You!
Signature: Buggy Bathroom
Dear Buggy Bathroom,
Despite the extreme blurriness of your image, the pattern on this Larder Beetle, Dermestes lardarius, is very evident. Larder Beetles infest stored foods, including dried meats and pet food. Perhaps you have a large bag of pet food that they are feeding upon. According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Entomology site: “The larder beetle is a commercial pest as well as a household pest. This is a cosmopolitan species which was historically a pest of cured meats in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The use of refrigeration, the purchase of meats in small quantities, and the lack of home curing of meats, have decreased the economic importance of this insect. However, these beetles are still common in homes, museums, mills, livestock facilities, and any place that contains a suitable food source. Typically, these would include any animal by-product such as dried dog food, furs, hides, and feathers. Also, many pantry items can become infested. Another potential food source are dead insects in attic and wall voids that become trapped when they seek an overwintering site. In the fall insects such as flies, bugs, beetles and wasps, accumulate in attics and similar spaces in the home. Many of the hibernating insects die, attracting larder beetles which lay eggs on dead insects. The larvae of the larder beetle then feed on the dead insects.” We would encourage you to search out the site of the infestation, and it might not necessarily be in the bathroom.
Thank You so much, I don’t know how I missed that picture. This is definately what they are. I started seeing the Larve first then the beetles shortly after I bombed my house for fleas, so they may be feeding on other dead bugs in the walls. Thank you again.
Letter 4 – Possibly a Larder Beetle
Subject: Bug from Thrift Store? making me seriously ill
Location: Arvada, Colorado
March 5, 2013 8:56 am
I have noticed this bug for probably a couple of months. The only place that I find the, is usually one at a time, in the mornings on the top of my stove.
At first I thought they were mice feces, until about a week ago when I went to scoop it in the trash & it scurried away!!
I was MIT at a Thrift Store, & 2 weeks into the job, I developed hives & such. I fought it for 15 months, going to my PCP, a dermatologist, and had prick allergen testing, which revealed my only allergies were tov2 trees, & most grasses & weeds I then was sent into Workmans compv& had Patch testing run. This revealed allergies to Indystrial compounds; Chromate, Cobalt, Ethylednaminedihydrochloruse, and Balsam of Puru.
I have suffered recurring rashes covering my hands, neck, face,& scalp. I seem to clear up on steroids & antibiotics, but once off the meds, I reflare with a vengance. Nobody can seem to figure out what is wrong with me, as I continue to suffer. I often feel as though I’m being ”bitten”, and itch incessantly.
I’ve not worked at the Thrift Store since August 2012, but am still suffering and UNABLE to work.
Could THIS BUG be the culprit, & WHAT IS IT?????
I’ve checked my mattress & have not seen any there.
This bug is about 1/8”, brownish in color, no visible legs, apparent antanae on the head.
PLEASE HELP!! I’m freaking out & tired of being sick!! In addition, I need to get this cleared up so U may find different work
Miserable in Coloradi
Signature: Miserable in Colorado
Dear Miserable in Colorado,
We are not qualified to make medical diagnoses, nor do we have any scientific credentials. This appears to be a Larder Beetle, Dermestes lardarius, a species that commonly infests stored food products. We do not believe it has any relationship to your symptoms. You might want to suggest that your healthcare providers explore the possibility of Delusory Parasitosis.