Beetles belong to the insect order Coleoptera. This is the largest order of insects. There are more than a quarter million species of beetles in the world. In North America, scientists have identified more than 25,000 beetle species.
How to Identify a Beetle
Sometimes people mistake cockroaches for beetles. If the beetle is an adult, it can usually be identified by looking at the wings.
Beetles have well-developed antennae and chewing mouthparts, as well as shell-like front wings known as elytra. These front wings are often very hard and appear more like a shell than wings. The beetle folds the front wings so they cover the back wings. They are durable and waterproof, serving as protection against damage and dehydration. However, unlike many other insects, most beetles are poor fliers. Most adult beetles seem to have a line down their back where the two front wings meet.
Beetles come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some, like the click beetles, are long and slender. Some beetles like lady beetles and June beetles (also known as June bugs) have an oval or rounded shape. There are even beetles that resemble spiders.
Beetles develop in a four-stage life cycle. Scientists call this a complete metamorphosis. The stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult. The length of the life cycle also varies according to the type of beetle. Some beetles develop very quickly and they can produce more than one generation each year. Others, like some of the wood-boring beetles can take several years to decades to develop from an egg to an adult insect. The length of the life cycle also depends on the amount of food that is available for the larvae to eat as well as environmental conditions. Adult beetles often deposit their eggs near the food that the larvae will eat when they come out of the eggs.
What Do Beetles Eat?
Beetles feed on plants, small insects and animal fibers, depending on species. A few beetles are considered pests in gardens and crops, although some species, such as the ladybird beetle, may benefit humans by killing harmful insects.
Problems Caused by Beetles
Some beetles can become destructive pests. Carpet beetle larvae eat natural fibers and feathers. They often damage woolens and other fabrics. Other beetles, like powderpost beetles, feed on hardwoods and bamboo. These pests attack furniture and other items made of wood.
Some, like the flour beetles and the grain beetles, attack food products in homes. They also damage food in production facilities and stores. Some beetles damage lawns and landscapes. Immature June beetles, called grubs, attack the roots of grass. The elm leaf beetle damages trees by eating the leaves.
Many beetles are beneficial insects. The lady beetle (often called ladybug) feeds on plant pests like aphids and mealybugs. Gardeners appreciate these beetles and try to keep them in the garden.
Sometimes beetles, including lady beetles and ground beetles, can become nuisances. In the late summer and fall, homeowners can find hundreds of these beetles clustered on the outside of the home. The beetles are trying to invade homes for shelter through the winter or are looking to escape inclement conditions.
There are three basic groups of beetles that may require treatment inside our homes and businesses: food product beetles, wood-destroying beetles and fabric-infesting beetles. While the specific treatment procedures and methods may vary based on the specific diet and habitat of the pest beetle, the components of an effective and efficient treatment closely follow those of a comprehensive integrated pest management (IPM) program.
Inspection & Treatment Plan
When beetles become a pest problem, your pest management professional will provide a thorough inspection to accurately identify the pest beetle. Based on the inspection findings, your pest management professional will develop an effective treatment plan to resolve the pest pressures that are specific to the situation. Accurate identification of the pest is critical since there are many different species of beetles and the specific details required for treatment must be applied to the beetle or beetles that are causing the problems. Otherwise, incorrect identification can result in a treatment plan that does not work effectively for the species of beetle needing control.
Education that explains the beetle’s life cycle and an explanation of why control efforts cannot be directed only where adult beetles are found will be provided. Therefore, the treatment plan will include targeting areas where the immature stages live and taking action so that they do not become adults. Your pest management professional will help the customer recognize beetle damage and the signs and kinds of fabric, wood or foodstuffs that beetles infest. Also, customer education will target the use of re-infestation prevention methods once the pest problem is resolved.
The treatment plan may include using pheromone-based
beetle traps that are useful for determining the location of insect development sites and population sizes of fabric, wood and food-infesting beetles.
Habitat Reduction & Non-Chemical Treatments
Insect Growth Regulators
Depending on the situation, your pest management professional may use these products to interrupt and reduce the beetle’s ability to reach reproductive maturity.
Your pest management professional will use products as a last resort and only when the non-chemical procedures are not sufficient to get rid of the problems. If products are needed, they will be used in accordance with the product’s approved label and use directions.
American Spider Beetles (Mexium americanum)
Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis)
Billbug Sphenophorus spp.
Cigarette Beetles (Lasioderma serricorne)
Dried Fruit Beetles (Carpophilus hemipterus)
Drugstore Beetles (Stegobium paniceum)
Elm Leaf Beetles (Pyrrhalta luteola).
Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)
Flour Beetles (Family Tenebrionidae)
Foreign Grain Beetles (Ahasverus advena)
Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica)
Larder Beetles (Dermestes lardarius)
Plaster Beetles (Family Lathridiidae)
Sawtooth Grain Beetles (Oryzaephilus surinamensis)
Shiny Spider Beetles (Mezium affine)
Whitemarked Spider Beetles (Ptinus fur)