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Are drugstore beetles dangerous?

When you run a food preparation or food product business, pests can cost you financially or ruin your reputation. Having rodents or insects in a place where food is prepared is just not good for business. Most pests in food leave behind chew marks and some of them can present health issues by contaminating food preparation surfaces or the food itself. Sometimes, the pests can damage the food, making them completely unappealing to consumers.

One of the most common commercial pests is known as the drugstore beetle, bread beetle, or biscuit beetle. These insects are very small as adults, but are even tinier when they are in their larval stage. It is during this part of their lives when they cause the damage to food products. Are drugstore beetles dangerous? We take a look at these food pests in detail.

If you have found signs of drugstore beetles or other pests around your establishment, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

What are drugstore beetles?

Drugstore beetles are tiny pests that are known to attack a wide variety of foods from flour and bread to sweets and spices. From time to time, they’ll even feed on non-food items such as wool or leather. Consequently, they can also become an issue for museums, endangering the artifacts. These beetles can be found worldwide, but prefer warm regions or heated structures.

What do drugstore beetles look like?

Drugstore beetle on finger
Photograph by Kamran Iftikhar

Drugstore beetles are small, brown-colored insects with six legs and a standard beetle look to them. They can be hard to see in any great detail because of their size. Adults reach only about 3.5 millimeters in length. Drugstore beetles also have noticeable antennae with three segmented clubs on the end and a hard shell. The shell on their backs houses their wings beneath. Drugstore beetles do not really fly, but technically could if they needed to get away. Their heads face down, making it look like they are staring down at the ground beneath their feet.

Drugstore beetles bear a close resemblance to the cigarette beetle, but are differentiated from those insects by the grooves running lengthwise down the backs of the drugstore beetles.

How did drugstore beetles get their name?

The name “drugstore beetles” probably makes you imagine a pharmacy with bottles of pills infested with tiny beetles. However, this is not actually the case. It’s thought these beetles got their name because of their fondness for eating herbs and plants which were often used in making drugs. For example, drugstore beetles are known to eat the highly toxic substance strychnine. However, you can find drugstore beetles in your home feasting on leather, books, fabric, and furniture, too. These beetles are also known to eat hair.

Why are drugstore beetles a concern?

Drugstore beetles are a concern because of the damage they do to food and herbs. The larvae of this beetle chew their way through food, herbs, and plants, leaving holes, damaging products. The damage makes the food unusable.

Do drugstore beetles transmit disease?

Drugstore beetles have not been found to be the vector for any known disease. They also traditionally do no bite people. The main reason the drugstore beetle is considered an unwanted pest is due to the problems they cause for businesses and homeowners. Because a female drugstore beetle can lay more than 100 eggs at a time, they can make entire batches of food and business product unsalable. This means a drugstore beetle infestation in a business can cost business owners money.

How do you get rid of drugstore beetles


Getting rid of a drugstore beetle infestation is difficult. Since they are small, and the females lay so many eggs, it’s very easy for a small number of beetles to become a large, unmanageable infestation.

Often the beetles get into the food products in a home or business from goods shipped in from somewhere else. Drugstore beetles are common in bulk products like seeds or even dry pet food. Given the size of the bundles in which these products arrive, the beetles may be living, hatching and growing inside the product for quite a while before being discovered.

Products should be inspected carefully. You can spot the signs of drugstore beetles when you spot tiny holes in the product and outside packaging resembling shots from a shotgun. A spray of tiny holes will be evident.

The best way to get rid of drugstore beetles is to get rid of infested product. Bulk products can also be treated using specialized treatments. However, only highly trained specialists should do this kind of product fumigation.

To prevent infestations, make sure floors are cleaned and vacuumed. Pay attention to the spaces in floorboard cracks and corners of cabinets. Mice and drugstore beetles often work in concert with each other. Mice will store and hoard food in corners, only to be found by drugstore beetles.

Birds can also bring drugstore beetles into a home. Bird’s nests can become infested because of the food they bring into their nests. A bird’s nest wedges into the roof of a home or building can led to beetles inside.

Contact Ehrlich Pest Control for drugstore beetle treatments

If you have been finding holes in the packaging of food in either your home or within the business you own, you may have a drugstore beetle problem. Contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office and tell them what you’ve seen and our specialists will inspect your property. Our trained specialists know the signs of drugstore beetle infestations and can tell you if they are the culprit. The specialists can then offer you treatments to get rid of the beetles and prevent their return.

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