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5 facts about spider beetles

Photo Credit: Katja Schulz
Photo Credit: Katja Schulz

Spider beetles are actually quite common in North America, with an affinity for showing up in food preparation areas and homes in the northeast. In general, there is little to fear about spider beetles, but if you have a business in the food industry, an infestation of spider beetles can cause large amounts of product to become unsalable and unusable which can cost you a lot of money.

If you are finding small red insects in your home and are worried about either spider beetles or bed bugscontact the experts at Ehrlich Pest Control who can tell you for certain which pest is the problem. We then offer solutions to get rid of the spider beetles and prevent them from returning.

What are spider beetles?

Spider beetles are tiny insects that do look very much like tiny spiders. They have only six legs, however, although there are two long extensions near their head which resemble legs, making many people think they are spiders and not beetles. Spider beetles also have round bodies with a smooth carapace, or outer shell, which adds to the spider-like appearance.  The most common types of spider beetles in North America is the Mezium americanum, or American Spider Beetle. There are also Whitemarked spider beetles and the Smooth spider beetle.

Spider beetles are part of the Anobiidae family of beetles. For the most part, they are not considered a serious pest, but given the right conditions, spider beetles can become numerous and their tendency to eat large amounts of food stuff make them a nuisance. When this happens, they can end up in food preparation areas or restaurants, retail outlets or throughout hotels, hospitals and other areas with large kitchens. Plus, they can easily end up transported and inside homes, hiding in pantries and cupboards.

The American spider beetle is about 1.5 to 3.5 millimeters in length. These are the spider beetles most often confused with bed bugs because, seen from above, their body shape is similar to that of a bed bug. They are also reddish brown in color, much like adult bed bugs.

What do spider beetles eat?

Spider beetles are foragers. They tend to like to come out and feed at night and are usually most active during that time. Spider beetles are not very picky about what they eat, either, and have been found nesting and breeding a wide variety of foodstuffs. The list of foods spider beetles will snack on is quite long and includes:

  • Almonds

  • Paprika

  • Rye bread

  • Seeds

  • Silk

  • Wheat

  • Wool

  • Flour

  • Ginger

  • Dried mushrooms

  • Animal skins

  • Beans

  • Books

  • Cacao

  • Cereals

  • Figs

  • And more!

These tiny pests are even known to end up in taxidermied animals or will infest plants. Spider beetles can even end up inside terrariums or herbariums, eating their way through herbs, spices and other plants. You might even find spider beetles munching away at your leather shoes if the infestation is bad enough.

Spider beetles tend to like moist areas. As such, they will become very numerous after particularly rainy periods. They are sneaky, too, and may end up inside walls or even within the cracks of wooden floorboards, hiding from the light and waiting for the dark to arrive so they can forage for food.

Do spider beetles bite?

Unless you happen to be made from dried fruit or some other type of food or material like those above, if you are finding reddish insects and bite marks on your body, you are not likely being bitten by spider beetles. Of course, given the fact spider beetles feast on organic materials like taxidermied animals or leather, it is not out of the realm of possibility for a spider beetle to bite a person. However, it would likely not be in a cluster and there are no known health risks associated with spider beetles or their bites. If an infestation has reached a level that the spider beetles are now biting living people or pets, then it is serious enough to require a series of treatments to clean out the entire building.

Spider beetles are not blood-feeders. They do not suck up blood, inject saliva containing anticoagulants or require a blood meal to reproduce.

Why do spider beetles come inside?

Spider beetles are usually just looking for food, like most insects that end up inside a home or property.  They can come inside a home when they hitch a ride on some sort of foodstuff or one of the foods listed in the paragraph above. Spider beetles can also just hitch a ride in goods brought in from outside. It is rare for spider beetles to end up inside by coming through cracks in screens or foundations, as they are very specific in where they live and what they want to eat. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that if you live near a place that has a spider beetle infestation to end up with spider beetles inside your home or property as they move from one area into a new one looking for food.

Where do spider beetles hide?

Spider beetles are very small, just a few millimeters in length. This means they can hide in almost any crack or crevice. They will hide in the cracks between floorboards, for example. They can easily get into food packaging, too, since they can easily chew their way through the outer packing to the food inside. Since spider beetles are fond of so many different types of food, they can be found in multiple places around a home, too, even in the attic spaces. Spider beetles have been known to feed on animal droppings, such as bat droppings, for example.

Because spider beetles can be just about anywhere, finding the real source of the infestation is tricky. Although you may find spider beetles in the pantry, perhaps in some food stored there, they could be nesting or hiding in a rat’s nest within the walls. This means getting rid of the infested food may not get rid of the spider beetle infestation.

Ehrlich Pest Control deals with spider beetles

Ehrlich Pest Control specialists are trained to spot spider beetles and trace them back to the place where they are infesting your home or business. Our experts understand the difference between spider beetles, bed bugs, and other beetles. We can help you discover what is attracting the spider beetles and offer a solution that will get rid of the spider beetles and then offer advice and tips to prevent them from returning.

Whether you are dealing with a large spider beetle infestation, or a smaller one, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office today and get a property inspection and to discuss our spider beetle treatment options.

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