Belonging to the insect order Coleoptea, beetles are the largest order of insects with over 25,000 species in the U.S and over 300,000 species in the world. Often mistaken for cockroaches, beetles have well-developed antennae, chewing mouthparts, and shell-like wings. These durable and waterproof wings, known as elytra, appear hard and are more similar to a shell compared to wings. They serve as protection against damage and dehydration.
Coming in many variations of appearance and size, beetles have two sets of wings, only live for about a year, and are usually poor fliers. Beetles have weak eyesights and rely on using pheromones, sounds, or vibrations to communicate.
Beetles Behavior, Habitat & Diet
Beetles are uniquely versatile and can adapt to almost any environment. Generally found on either land or in fresh water, beetles usually feed where they dwell. Beetles are both beneficial and detrimental pests. For example, lady beetles, aka ladybugs, are considered to be good luck in many cultures, while fireflies and lightning bugs glow in the dark to communicate and lend entertainment on a summer’s night. Beetles can hurt the environment by destroying crops, but they also help the environment by ridding garbage and dead trees, as well as pollinating flowers.
Beetles undergo full metamorphosis in four separate stages— egg, larva, pupa, and imago. There are thousands of species of beetles. However, the three basic groups of beetles that may require beetle control are food beetles, wood destroying beetles, and fabric infesting beetles.
Types of Beetles
- Carpet Beetles— Black and dark brown in appearance, carpet beetles are among the most common household pests with infestations common during hot summer months. Coining the term carpet beetles, these pests munch on wool fabrics but avoid synthetic fabrics frequently used in carpets today.
- Pantry beetles— Pantry beetles belong to a diverse group of beetles that infest either grain or processed products usually found in pantries in residential or commercial environments. These little pests won’t bite or sting, and infest even the cleanest kitchens. Thoroughly cleaning your kitchen, storing pantry basics in a dry, dark space, and organizing your kitchen every three to six months will help keep the the pests away.
- Larder Beetles— Receiving its name from being a pest of cured meat, larder beetles enjoy feeding on dried meat, pet food, and other organic material that is easily accessible low to the ground. They do not bite or sting. Since these pests like to munch on decaying material, be careful when disposing food scraps.
- Flour Beetles— Commonly known for attacking and infesting stored flour and grain, these beetles are adaptive to very dry environments and, similar to cockroaches, have the ability to withstand high levels of radiation. Flour beetles are also highly resistant to insecticides, making them a difficult nuisance in the pest world.
- Click Beetles— Characterized by their unique clicking sound and actions, click beetles, also known as snapping beetles or spring beetles, are blackish brown in appearance with an elongated type of body. Click beetles possess a unique structure between their front and rear section that, if flipped over or when feeling threatened, evoke a rapid snapping action accompanied by a clicking noise.
- Stink Beetles— Easily identifiable, stink bugs are serious agricultural pests that can significantly damage crops. Stink bugs are non-biting and non-parasitic, but they do have a set of foul-smelling defensive glands located underneath their body. The pungent odor is meant to prevent itself from being eaten by a bird or lizard.
Beetles can be detrimental pests in homes and gardens because they feed on crops, natural and animal fibers, and feathers. Carpet beetle larvae damage wool and other fabrics, and powderpost beetles feed on certain types of woods like hardwoods, bamboo, or wooden furniture. Other beetles become pests by damaging food products in homes, retail stores, and production facilities. They can also attack lawns and landscapes, and June beetles specifically damage grass roots.
Beetle Prevention and Treatment
Due to the large versatility of beetle species, it is important to accurately identify the type of beetle prior to proceeding with a treatment plan. Incorrect identification may lead to ineffectual results. If you suspect an issue with beetles or a beetle infestation, contact your local pest control professional to effectively detect the species of beetle and construe a proper treatment plan for beetles.