Larder Beetle

Larder Beetle Scientific Name: Dermestes lardarius

All about the Larder Beetle

The larder beetle gets its name from its tendency to be found in larders, as the name would suggest. These tiny beetles like our food sources as much as we do and can quickly take over your pantry, or larder, if uncontrolled.

Larder beetles are less-commonly known as skin beetles. Skin beetles are great resources and are commonly used by museums to remove, or “devour”, skin – as the Latin name implies. This flesh-eating beetle isn’t as scary as it might sound; it actually prefers to feast on animal skin commonly found on skeletons in museums. While in actuality these critters eat very little, the risk in employing their assistance arises as thousands or millions of dollars of damage can quickly accrue if too much is eaten, due to the value of the items kept.

Larder Beetle

Larder Beetle

Larder beetle larvae have a hairy brown body, which tapers at the ends, a white belly, and a pair of short, curved spines that stick up from the mid region. This is home to their six legs. An adult larder beetle can reach an inch long, and is easily recognized by its yellow, brown, or red banded wings. The wings usually contain six to eight black spots.

While larder beetles love our larders, they can also be found in the bark of trees – particularly in the cooler winter months. As mentioned, larder beetles have wings that allow them to fly. They can travel great distances and commonly retreat to trees in winter.

Larder beetles especially like dog food – surprising but true. This means that in addition to the pantry, they can also be found living happily within barns or dog kennels. Bacon and cured meats, hides, feathers, and beeswax are all favorites of the Larder Beetle, though these are rarely kept in pantries. The larvae of the larder beetle will eat bones, wool, fabric that has been stained with blood or sweat, fur, abandoned bird or rodent nests, and stored tobacco – quite a bizarre variety of food sources.

Larder Beetle Life Cycle

A larder beetle only lives for about 40-50 days. In early summer, they lay their eggs in their food source so that when the larvae are born they are able to feed. A female adult larder beetle will typically lay between 200-800 eggs at any one time.

After the larvae hatch and feed, they can literally spread their wings and relocate to other parts of the home in search of a place to build their own nests. Male larder beetles can molt their skin up to five times, while females molt six. Mature larvae travel to locate a good place to pupate. An infestation of larder beetles can happen as quickly as two weeks after the initial hatching.

Larder Beetles and Humans

Larder beetles are quite the little pest! They have no real positive merit for homeowners and can cause thousands of dollars of damage within weeks if a serious infestation breaks out. Due to their penchant of sharing our food source, they are frustrating, costly and can become a widespread problem in a small amount of time. Their ability to fly can multiply the disturbance when you are least expecting it. However, if a larder beetle knows you are coming, they have a knack of immobilizing and remaining hidden.

On the last molt cycle of this pesky creature, the skin is used as a plug to cover their burrowing holes in your furniture and wood. This can lead to large amounts of structural damage to buildings and furniture, as well as unsightly marks.

Larder Beetle Pest Control

If you are unable to manage your infestation of larder beetles, professional help may be sought. In order to help your technician locate and remove these beetles, you may want to identify and locate the food source. A professional exterminator may need access to locate infestation sources such as inner walls, crawl spaces, and attics. The exterminator will then apply a treatment such as permethrin, resmethrin, sumithrin, tetramethrin, or pyrethrin to kill remaining beetles. The pest professional might also apply a growth regulator spray to the area of infestation to inhibit further growth. The exterminator will also clean the dead insects after they have been terminated.

To help prevent a return of larder beetles, you should maintain an environment free of temptations. Use disinfectant spray regularly to remove scraps of possible food. If you find a beetle, simply bag up the infested object or food and throw it out. Seal all openings into attics and partitions and also baseboards. Installing tightly fitted doors and window screens can also help prevent larder beetles from entering your home as a preventative action.

Smoked and farm-cured meats should be tightly wrapped in cloth or paper and kept in cold storage and in air-tight containers. Keep containers with animal products tightly closed. Take out the trash often to keep waste odors from building up that can attract larder beetles. Alternatively, leave out some cheese to attract larder beetles and destroy them on site by hand. You can heat dry pet food for 30-45 minutes at 135 degrees Fahrenheit to kill their eggs or replace it if you wish. You can also freeze dry pet food for a few days to kill the pests.

Larder Beetle Entomology

Larder Beetles Scientific Name: Dermestes lardarius

The larder beetle belongs to the Insecta class and is under the order of the Coleoptera. They are classified under the Demestes genus.

The larder beetles larva is actually longer than that of an adult larder beetle, which is uncommon. This is due to its thick outer coating, which changes color as the beetle comes into life. A distinguishing feature of the larder beetle is its spine, which curves backward rather than forward. The larvae possess the same general characteristics as the adult, but instead, their spine extends backwards and is not as strongly curved as is their parents’ spines.

A larder beetle only lives for about 40-50 days. In early summer, larder beetles lay their eggs in their food source so that when the larvae are born they are able to feed. A female adult larder beetle will typically lay between 200-800 eggs at any one time, and when they are born, will feast on the food source before relocating to other parts of the home to seek their independence.

After the larvae hatch and feed, they can literally spread their wings and relocate to other parts of the home in search of a place to build their own nests. Male larder beetles can molt their skin up to five times, while females molt six. Mature larvae travel to locate a good place to pupate. An infestation of larder beetles can happen as quickly as two weeks after the initial hatching.