Several beetles belonging to the Dermestidae family are destructive indoor pests. These beetle pests are sometimes referred to collectively as “skin beetles” due to their habit of feeding on valued indoor items made from animal skins, including leather. The specific indoor items most commonly damaged by dermestid beetles varies somewhat by species, but nearly all are considered economically damaging house pests during their larval stage. Carpet and furniture beetles are the two most well known dermestid pest species within households where they feed on furniture upholstery, curtains, carpeting, clothing, and just about any type of fabric they may encounter, as well as many non-fabric items. Another dermestid beetle pest species, the larder beetle, is not associated with household infestations as frequently as carpet beetles in most regions of the US, but they are abundant in areas of the northeast, and they are frequent pests of homes located in upstate New York.
Larder beetles were major household pests many decades ago when it was commonplace to store large amounts of meat at room temperature within open indoor areas. Larder beetles regularly congregated on stored meat for feeding purposes, resulting in contamination and the consequent loss of costly food sources. The now widespread use of freezers for meat storage has made larder beetles occasional nuisance pests within homes, but they sometimes feed on pet food, down feathers, and dried meat. Within homes, larder beetles feed on dead rodents and insects that have collected within inaccessible indoor areas, such as wall voids and underneath floorboards. A heavy indoor larder beetle presence may indicate that numerous dead rodents have collected within obscured indoor areas.
Dark-colored and oval-shaped adult larder beetles are around ⅓ of an inch in length, and they are rarely noticed when they invade homes. Females deposit eggs on animal carcassess and other food sources within homes in order to provide larvae with an immediate and nutritious food source after hatching. Half inch long mature larvae are hairy and dark red to black with curved spines at the tip of their abdomen. After consuming their initial food source upon hatching, larvae move about homes in search of further food sources, and this is when infestations are usually spotted by homeowners. Mature larvae cause damage by boring into structural components, especially wood and paper, in order to find a suitable pupation site. Heavy larder beetle infestations may see hundreds of larvae emerge from behind baseboards, window sills and electrical outlets.
Has your home ever been infested with an economically significant group of insect pests?