Drugstore beetles are a small insect about 1/10th of an inch long and brown in color. It can fly in the adult stage and is attracted to light. They are oval in shape and closely resemble a cigarette beetle. However, there are two differences which a trained eye will note: the antennae have a distinct three segmented club structure compared to the cigarette beetles serrated antenna and the wings of the drugstore beetle have deep grooves or pits where the cigarette beetle has none. Though both beetles will infest many of the same foods, drugstore beetles can and will eat from a much larger list. If you have drugstore beetles in your home, you will have to do several things to both remove the active infestation and stop any eggs present from being able to complete their life cycle which would effectively cause a reinfestation!
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DRUGSTORE BEETLE BIOLOGY
Drugstore beetles are found throughout most of the world. Though their name implies that maybe they are more of a problem for pharmacies, in fact, homes are the most common structure where they can be found. Drugstore beetles hatch from eggs which are generally laid on food stuff the larva will like to eat. Once hatched, the larva will start to eat and will do so for 3-5 months. It was once thought they mainly liked flour because they are such a common pest found in bread. However, careful research during the twentieth century taught us that drugstore beetles can live on just about anything found in the home. The list includes flour but also has anything meal based, any breakfast food, condiments and spices, coffee, any type of bean, rodenticide and other poison baits used for rodents, books, fabric, wood, furniture and wall paper. Their diet has been found to be so large that one entomologist was heard saying “they will eat anything except cast iron”.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE LIFE CYCLE
Once the eggs have fed enough to derive the nutrition they need to become adults, they will spin a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis. This will take 2-4 weeks and once complete the adult will emerge to mate and lay eggs. Since adults fly they will look for adequate food on which to lay eggs in case prime food stuff has been removed. It is for this reason alone that controlling drugstore beetles can be a tiresome task. Most cycles take about 6 months to complete but in warm climates like the south three cycles can be completed in one year. In order to break the cycle once and for all, you will have to do three key things: 1) Remove or treat any contaminated food or other items where larva or adults have been found 2) Treat such areas to insure hatching larva are not able to survive by eating something other than the contaminated food stuff found and 3) Set out Pheromone traps to catch reproduction minded adults before they are able to mate and lay eggs in some other part of the home.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE CONTROL
The first part of getting this pest under control is the need to identify the central food or item they are eating. Most adults will emerge from cocoons which are located very close to where the larva fed. If you are finding adults in the pantry then you most likely have some type of cereal, spice, flour, cookie, grain, bean or some other item with active larva and/or adults.
The best approach is to remove everything from the cabinets where the activity has been noted. The good news in this case is that the infestation may be limited to just these items. As you remove boxes and containers, be sure to inspect them carefully for white grub like larva, adults and empty cocoons which is where the adults are emerging.
Anything suspect should be thrown out; boxes which you don’t want to throw away but are not sure or not are infested should be stored in a plastic bag. In the coming weeks if you are to use this item you can then inspect the bag to see if there are any sign in the plastic bag which alerts you to that item being contaminated.
Once everything is removed you should treat the empty cabinet with PT-MICROCARE. This is a unique Pyrethrin based aerosol which labeled for such use without hazard to anything being stored there. The aerosol is actually a microencapsulated formulation which means the Pyrethrin will be released over a few weeks thus providing a long residual that is much needed.
The aerosol is easy to use, comes with a thin straw applicator enabling one to apply it accurately to cracks and crevices and has no odor. Once all the cabinets are treated you can let it dry for an hour and then place everything away. This treatment is needed if you want to break the cycle of this pest since eggs and pupa cannot be killed. This means there will be eggs and pupa hatching inside the cabinet over the next few weeks and when they do, the residual from the treatment will kill them off.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE CONTROL AEROSOL
An alternative to the Microcare would be DFORCE AEROSOL. It will work in much the same way but is stronger with treatments lasting 2 weeks or more.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE CONTROL IN THE HOME
If you are finding the beetles in furniture, fabric, carpet, books or other inanimate objects you don’t want to throw away, go ahead and treat them directly with the PT-Microcare. The Dforce doesn’t have as much flexibility as the Microcare for spot treating so don’t get if your problem is dispersed throughout the home. But with the Microcare, you can lightly misting anything which is suspected of having adults or larva. Books can be a real problem and generally need to be opened to some degree if you want to insure proper coverage and treatment. If you have a large book case full of books, you have no choice but to remove all of them. Once empty, treat the shelves first with the PT-Microcare, then the books and then you can restock the books without risk.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE CONTROL SPRAY
If you have larger areas to treat – particularly whole houses – you will be better off getting some of our DEFENSE SC for spraying. This product is odorless, mixes with water and is applied with a PUMP SPRAYER.
Solo 454 Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/sprayers/solo-1-gallon-sprayer
Treat over furniture, bedding, carpets and just about anyplace these beetles have been found. Defense is unique in that is both odorless and non-staining. It too is encapsulated so you will only have to apply it every 2 months. It will easily kill off larva as they hatch along with adults which choose to land on it. Since it is mixed with water you may have to use some of the PT-Microcare still if you have sensitive areas to treat which cannot get wet like books.
Another product which may be needed is PT-PI. This is another aerosol which works for a very short time but is designed to be applied in the open air.
You are effectively fogging when you use this form which may be needed if you have seen a lot of adults flying around parts of the home. Fog each night before going to sleep or during the day when you are leaving for a few hours. It only takes 15-30 seconds to treat and by killing off any adults which have found their way into treated rooms you will be killing off potential egg-laying females which would be starting new infestations at new locations of the home.
DRUGSTORE BEETLE CONTROL TRAPS
Now that you have removed contaminated food stuff and/or treated inanimate objects on which the larva were feeding, you need to do the third step. This is the placement of pheromone traps in any room where you have seen activity. DRUGSTORE BEETLE TRAPS rely on strong pheromones to attract adults to a sticky glue which will catch them before they are able to mate and lay eggs.
If you have a lot of young foraging stages, get the combo type trap known as the XLURE TRAP. It combines both a pheromone and a food lure which does a better overall. The traps should be placed in any room where activity has been noted. It is not unusual to have several of these traps deployed in many rooms of the home.
Though kitchen, pantry and cabinets may be the main areas for placement, be sure to inspect around any window in the home. Since drugstore beetles are attracted to light they will tend to accumulate on window sills of any window which is closest to where they are most active. If this is happening be sure to locate traps by any such window. The traps will readily catch adults thus preventing them from mating and laying eggs.
Be sure to inspect the traps at least once a week to insure they do not fill up and stop catching beetles and change them as soon as they do. Keeping a fresh set up of traps is imperative if you want to catch all potential reproducing adults and end the cycle. In most cases the first part of the treatment will remove the contaminated food stuff, the spray treatments will break the cycle by killing off hatching larva and the pheromone traps will help to collect the reproducing adults which in turn will put a cease to the cycle.
A good house cleaning followed by a good treatment will knock most of the population out and properly placed traps will insure there are no future outbreaks. Expect to have the situation under control in a couple of months but if you are continually finding adults be sure to keep the traps out and spend some more time looking for the food source. Remember, without a good food source the beetle will not be able to continue it’s cycle so if you are still seeing adults there is something the larva have found on which to feed and whatever this is needs to be removed or treated to break the cycle once and for all.
Drugstore beetles are a pest which can be tough to control because they fly. If you have found some in your home you will have to seek the main food supply and remove or treat it using the PT-Microcare and/or Cyfluthrin. If you have adults flying around the home every day or two use some of the PT-PI to fog air spaces insuring these flying adults will not be able to relocate to another part of the home and start a new population. Be sure to set out Pheromone traps in any room where you have seen activity so that reproducing adults can be intercepted before they are able to start laying eggs on books, fabric or furniture in an attempt to get colonized in new parts of the home.
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