By Alain VanRyckeghem, BCE Technical Director
This is a commonly encountered beetle that can be easily confused with two other beetles (cigarette beetle and hairy fungus beetle) in home or food warehousing/ production facilities.
This beetle is up to 1/8 inch long, brown to reddish brown. They have several rows of pits (striated) on hairy elytra (hardened wings). The last three antennal segments are slightly enlarged, flattened and elongated.
The female beetle will lay eggs in almost any dry organic substance. Larvae will tunnel through the food substance for about 4-5 months. The life cycle on average will be 7 months but can be as short as 2 months. Several generations can occur per year depending on storage conditions.
Packages infested with these beetles usually have shot holes where adults have emerged from pupation. Adults and larvae cause damage. Adults are excellent fliers and are attracted to lights.
The use of effective pheromone traps and inspections can determine the location and degree of infestation. These beetles are commonly found in processed foods such as spices, flour, meal, and dog food, but can also attack leather, horn, wool, hair, taxidermy, pharmaceuticals and even book bindings.
Case Study Often a homeowner will call and say they have these beetles but cannot find them. After long discussions on where to look they sometimes give up. I have encouraged them to look outside of the ‘box’ and then let me know if they find them. One such case involved a pair of special slippers that could be heated, found in the master bedroom closet. They contained these edible items. Chamomile, Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint, Yarrow, Yellow-Dock Root, White Willow, Flax Seed, and Wheat. A very aromatic and tasty meal for sure!