Several beetles are common pests of stored food products and often occur in houses, bakeries, grain stores and warehouses - anywhere that food is stored, especially dried food stuffs such as grain, cereals, flour, nuts, etc. Some of the stored food pests, and a variety of other beetles such as Carpet Beetles that frequently invade human habitations, can also damage clothing, carpets and other household furnishings, attacking almost anything made from natural fabrics and furs. Stored Product Insects cause huge monetary losses by damaging food products, so it is important to take rapid action if an infestation is suspected. Best controlled through good hygiene, sprays and dusts, so beetle control starts with ourselves.
- Domestic and small shop/store premises can usually be treated DIY
- Large industrial units and some large loose grain stores need professional input, especially if the infestation is so bad as to require fumigation.
Beetle Control In domestic or small commercial situations:
Do not use insecticides in pantries, kitchens, dining rooms or food stores. Insecticide contamination of food may have toxic effects and is a potential health hazard.
- Follow the advice given in 'Pest Proofing' section to ensure hygiene is good and contaminated food is destroyed.
- Carpet Beetles should be vacuumed thoroughly or steam cleaned. This will also remove any human or pet hair that will act as a food source.
- If potential harbourages still exist within the premises, treat these areas with a suitable residual insecticide dust or spray.
- In areas away from food, suitable insecticides may be sprayed into cracks and crevices where the larvae or adult beetles may have secreted themselves.
In large commercial grain or food product stores:
Use pesticides safely and always read and understand the label.
- Follow the advice given above regarding hygiene
- If in any doubt about your ability and time available to control an infestation, call on the services of a pest control company qualified in fumigation techniques.
There are several species of beetle that can cause damage to stored food products, they include all the flour beetles ( about half a dozen in Britain) and all the grain beetles, a further three or four species.
- all beetles are much the same in appearance, but with many size differences
- they have hard, leathery wings meeting along the mid-line of the back whilst at rest
- biting mouthparts
- well developed thorax
- most can fly
- carpet beetles are ladybird like in shape and range in colour from black to variegated yellowy-orange. They are 2-4mm in length. The larvae are 4-5mm in length and look like hairy caterpillars.
- all beetles lay eggs
- the eggs hatch into larvae that will damage stored foods
- carpet beetle larvae are known as woolly bears and it is the larvae that destroy carpets, curtains and clothing
- the larvae pupate and then emerge as adults to continue the cycle
Stored Food Product Beetles are found throughout Britain and are common in shops and domestic larders.
They are pests associated with flour, bread, cereals, spices, nuts and even drugs. Carpet Beetles will systematically damage fabrics, clothing, carpets, furs and books. They will eat anything that is a natural fibre. Most of these types of beetle will not attack man made fibres such as nylon, polyester and acrylic.
The larvae may be able to penetrate tin foil but not glass and tin, so protect vulnerable products where possible within such containers.
The best way of avoiding problems with stored food product pests is good hygiene.
In domestic or small commercial situations:
- Areas where food is prepared, eaten and stored should be cleaned regularly.
- Leaving food exposed in open packets or spilt food on floors or surfaces attracts and harbours these pests.
- With good hygiene, attention to detail and regular inspection, you will be most unlikely to have a problem with stored product beetles, carpet beetles and moth pests.
- Dried pet foods are a very common harbourage.
- If you find any food infested with moths or beetles, place the bag/container in a deep freeze for about a week, which will kill any insects, then dispose of the container and all contents.
- Wash the container before reusing. If you even just suspect contamination of a bag of foodstuffs - be ruthless - deep freeze and throw it out.
- Transfer as much food as possible into glass containers.
- Seal all cracks and crevices with a suitable sealant.
Within commercial units:
- Stores should be constructed so as to be easily cleaned and free of cracks, crevices and damp spots.
- They should be well insulated and ventilated.
- Commodities should be stacked off the floor on pallets and not touch either the walls or the ceiling. Space should be allowed between pallets to allow ventilation and enable inspection.
- Packaging should be within thick, tough and preferably smooth/shiny well sealed materials.
- All food residues should be cleaned up on a daily basis.
- Ensure there are no birds nests within the building as these frequently harbour beetles and moths.All contaminated material should be destroyed.
- Seal all cracks and crevices with a suitable sealant. Ensure ventilation openings are covered with an insect exclusion grid