Pest Control

8 Ways To Get Rid of Beetles In Your House: Ultimate Guide

Beetle infestations can be challenging to clean up. They are unique among winged insects because they have a hard wing case that protects their delicate flying wings. There are over 300,000 known species, and some are important for ecosystems. Knowing the type of beetle helps with infestations.

To prevent beetles in homes, regularly vacuum and declutter to eliminate beetles and their larvae. Store food in sealed containers and inspect groceries, especially grains. Use natural repellents like diatomaceous earth and neem oil. Seal entry points and consider pheromone traps. For fabric beetles, wash in hot water or freeze items. If infestations continue, seek professional help. Consistency in prevention is key.

You need to know which beetle it is to get rid of beetles. This will help you understand where to concentrate your efforts and which method to use. Left unchecked, beetle populations can explode quickly.

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Some beetles can cause damage in the home to wood, furniture, carpets, fabrics, and clothing. Some annoy us by gathering around lights or leaving smelly streaks on the walls. Often, it isn’t the beetles that do the damage but their larvae, which generally operate behind the scenes and are seldom visible.

How to Get Rid of Beetles in Your House

Beetles, while fascinating in nature, can become unwelcome guests when they invade our homes. Whether they’re munching on your favorite sweater or infesting your pantry, it’s essential to take swift action. Here’s a comprehensive guide with actionable tips to ensure your home remains beetle-free.

1. Identify the Culprit

Before launching into battle, you must identify the type of beetle you’re dealing with. From carpet beetles to grain beetles, each has its unique habits and preferences. Snap a clear photo and use online resources, or consult a local pest control expert for identification.

2. Clean, Clean, Clean

Beetles, like most pests, are attracted to food sources and clutter.

  • Vacuum Regularly: Especially in areas where beetles are spotted. This not only removes adult beetles but also their larvae and eggs.
  • Declutter: Reduce hiding spots by keeping your home clutter-free.
  • Store Food Properly: Use airtight containers for grains, cereals, and other pantry items.

3. Natural Repellents

  • Diatomaceous Earth: This natural powder damages the beetles’ exoskeleton, causing dehydration. Sprinkle it in areas where beetles are frequent.
  • Neem Oil: A natural deterrent, especially for grain beetles. A light spray in affected areas can work wonders.

4. Check Incoming Goods

Beetles can hitch a ride into your home through infested products.

  • Inspect Groceries: Especially grains and cereals.
  • Quarantine New Plants: Before introducing new plants into your home, keep them separate for a few days to observe any beetle activity.

5. Use Beetle Traps

Pheromone traps are available for various beetles and can be an effective way to reduce their numbers. Place them in areas of high activity.

6. Seal Entry Points

Beetles can enter your home through tiny cracks and gaps.

  • Weather Stripping: Ensure doors and windows have tight seals.
  • Caulk: Seal gaps in baseboards, walls, and around utility entry points.

7. Wash Fabrics

If you’re dealing with fabric-loving beetles:

  • Hot Water Wash: Regularly wash fabrics in hot water.
  • Freeze: For items that can’t be washed, sealing them in a bag and placing them in the freezer for a week can kill beetles at all life stages.

8. Seek Professional Help

If the infestation is extensive or you’re unsure about the type of beetle, it might be time to call in the experts. Pest control professionals can offer targeted solutions and advice.

Different Types Of Beetles

Watch out for different beetles and recognize what they look like. This will help you know what you’re dealing with.

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles are notorious wood-boring insects with a penchant for converting robust wood into a fine, flour-like powder. Their lifecycle is intriguing yet destructive.

The larvae, upon hatching, tunnel deep into the wood, consuming it from within. This activity manifests externally as tiny holes accompanied by telltale wood powder. As these larvae mature into beetles, they carve their exit, leaving behind distinct round openings.

Interestingly, the transformation from larvae to beetles isn’t instantaneous. Depending on the specific species, this metamorphosis can span one to five years.

The adult beetles are elusive creatures, primarily nocturnal. Their attraction to light often betrays their presence, leading homeowners to discover them on windowsills.

By the time you spot these beetles, the damage to your wooden structures might already be extensive. Among the culprits, powderpost beetles are particularly notorious. They hail from three primary groups:

  • Anobiids
  • Lyctids
  • Bostrichids

Each group of wood-boring beetles boasts several species, all adept at wood consumption.

What Do They Feed On?

  • Wood: Both hardwoods and softwoods are at risk, with beetles consuming them from within.
  • Structural Wood: They target beams, subflooring, joists, and other foundational wooden structures.
  • Furniture: Some species, like the furniture beetle, can infest wooden furniture pieces.

The Anobiid beetles, characterized by their reddish-brown to dark-brown hue, are particularly destructive. Unlike their cousins, the drugstore and cigarette beetles,

Anobiids have a singular focus on wood, sparing stored food. Their preferred habitats are places with high humidity or dampness. As such, they are commonly found in unheated buildings, basements, crawl spaces, and garages.

The Anobiid group has famous members like the scary Deathwatch beetle and the furniture beetle. Regularly inspecting and maintaining wood is important to prevent extensive damage. Their presence highlights this.

Deathwatch Beetle

Deathwatch Beetle

The Deathwatch beetle, a brown-hued insect, is notorious for the eerie ticking sound it produces. This sound, reminiscent of a ticking clock, is created when the beetle bumps its head against the tunnel walls it bores through in wood.

In the past, people thought the ticking sound meant someone they cared about was about to die. Hence, it earned its macabre name. The beetle’s life cycle is diverse and lasts one to twelve years. Its surroundings heavily influence it.

Residing deep within the timber, the Deathwatch beetle poses a significant challenge to exterminate. Its resilience has led to the unfortunate destruction of numerous historic edifices.

Diet and Behavior:

  • Wood: The primary diet of the Deathwatch beetle is wood, which it bores through, creating intricate tunnel systems.
  • Timber: They are especially fond of wood, living deep within it and often mating underground, never needing to emerge.

Combatting the Deathwatch Beetle:

  1. Surface Sprays: Surface sprays can enter the wood a little, but they usually don’t reach beetles deep inside. Untreated regions become beetle hotspots, especially in hard-to-reach places like wooden joints.
  2. Insecticide Pastes: These offer deeper penetration and are more effective. Their application can be cumbersome, leaving the wood with a waxy finish.
  3. Liquid Insecticides: Injecting these under pressure through pre-drilled holes offers deeper penetration. The liquid may collect in gaps or unexpectedly come out from another hole without guaranteeing it will reach the larvae.
  4. White Spirit Mix: Mixing insecticide with white spirit is dangerous. It can cause fires, harm surfaces, damage insulation, and endanger health.
  5. Smoke Treatments: These have proven largely ineffective, often only managing to exterminate spiders.
  6. Methyl Bromide: Methyl Bromide is a strong gas that kills pests, but using it in infested buildings is problematic because it is toxic.
  7. Heat Sterilization: One promising method to exterminate wood borers involves heating a building to 50 degrees Celsius for an hour. This method is unsuitable for areas with delicate wood finishes or paneling.

In the battle against the Deathwatch beetle, while many methods have been tried, a foolproof solution remains elusive. The quest continues to preserve our cherished wooden structures from this persistent pest.

Furniture Beetle

Furniture Beetles

The furniture beetle, known as the “woodworm,” is called Anobium Punctatum in science. It is famous for eating wood. This beetle comes from northern Europe. It now lives in New Zealand and the US East Coast, too.

Lifecycle and Behavior

Come spring, the adult beetle makes its grand entrance, creating a small, round exit hole in the wood. Once out, the female beetle seeks suitable wood to lay her eggs, releasing a scent to attract a mate. After mating, their life cycle concludes, leaving behind the next generation to hatch and thrive.

Interestingly, these beetles have a preference:

  • Wood Selection:
    • Deadwood, especially those with traces of prior beetle activity.
    • Both hardwoods and softwoods, provided they’ve been dead for at least five years.
    • Core of trees like beech, cherry, birch, spruce, alder, and other susceptible woods.

The larvae, which are grayish-white and have a dark band near their mouth, cause wood damage. They do well in slightly damp places with temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius. Their lifecycle spans approximately three years.

Common Habitats

Advancements like central heating and air conditioning have reduced the prevalence of their threat. However, they still find solace in:

  • Skylights
  • Roof hatches
  • Bathrooms
  • Ventilated kitchens

Detection and Damage

Named for their penchant for weakening inexpensive wooden furniture, detecting their presence involves:

  • Drilling test holes
  • Probing the wood
  • Using X-rays for thorough examination of older furniture pieces

Treatment and Control

While the beetle’s damage can be concerning, modern solutions have made management easier:

  • Natural Control: Ventilation and drying out the wood can deter larvae for over a year.
  • Heat Treatment: To treat infested furniture, expose it to temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. This dries out the wood and makes it unsuitable for the larvae.
  • Freezing: The larvae can handle freezing temperatures, but repeated freeze-thaw cycles could kill them.

However, chemical treatments often pose more risks than benefits:

  • Many insecticides and chemicals offer only short-term protection and fail to reach the larvae deep within the wood.
  • The environmental and health hazards associated with toxic chemicals often outweigh their benefits.
  • In damp conditions, chemicals like organoboron can enter wood, but it is hard to keep them at adequate levels, and it is usually not worth it.

While the furniture beetle remains a formidable foe, understanding its behavior, preferences, and effective control measures can ensure your wooden treasures stay safe and intact.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles, often mistaken for clothes moths, are tiny, oval-shaped pests that can wreak havoc on household items. Their color can range from solid black to a mottled pattern of yellow, brown, white, or orange.

While the adult beetles are harmless pollen-eaters, their larvae are the real culprits behind the damage to fabrics and other materials.

What Do Carpet Beetles Feed On?

Carpet beetle larvae have a voracious appetite for natural materials. Here’s a list of their preferred diet:

  • Carpets
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Leather
  • Fur
  • Clothes (especially those made of natural fibers)
  • Furniture upholstery
  • Feathers
  • Lint, hair, and dead insects (often found in floor vents or under baseboards)
  • Some species even consume pet food, cereals, and seeds

Prevention and Control

Storage Tips:

  • Before storing clothes for extended periods, ensure they are washed or dry-cleaned.
  • Use tight-fitting plastic containers for storage to keep beetles at bay.
  • For high-value items like furs, consider cold storage.
  • While mothballs can deter moths, ensure they release enough vapor to be effective.

Cleaning Habits:

  • Regularly vacuum rugs, carpets, furniture, vents, and floors.
  • Store birdseed, pet food, and cereals in airtight containers.
  • Avoid accumulating piles of dead insects, which can attract beetles.

Carpet Beetle Infestation Management:

  • Inspect fabrics regularly, especially in hidden areas like hems, folds, and undersides.
  • If you find infested items, seal them in plastic bags before disposal. Clean and dry items that can be salvaged.
  • Heat treatments, like using washing machines and dryers, can effectively kill beetle eggs and larvae.
  • Insecticides can be sprayed on susceptible areas, but always follow label instructions to prevent potential damage.
  • Glue traps can help detect and manage infestations. However, it’s essential to identify the specific beetle species, as they are attracted to different scents.
  • Freezing infested items at temperatures of -20 degrees C or lower for at least a week can exterminate all life stages of the beetle.

Note: Cedar closets and chests might seem like a good idea, but they don’t offer foolproof protection against beetles. The oils in cedar aren’t potent enough, and these storage solutions aren’t typically airtight.

While carpet beetles can be a nuisance, with proper preventive measures and timely interventions, you can protect your belongings and maintain a beetle-free home.

Cigarette Beetle

Cigarette Beetles

Cigarette beetles, despite their name, aren’t just fans of stored tobacco. These reddish-brown pests have a diverse palate and a knack for invading various household items. When startled, they exhibit a unique behavior: they retract their legs and heads, feigning death.

What Do They Feed On?

Cigarette beetles have a broad diet that includes:

  • Stored tobacco (hence their name)
  • Dried fruits
  • Pet food
  • Rice
  • Spices and herbs
  • Nuts
  • Coffee beans
  • Cereals
  • Animal products
  • Potpourri and dried plants
  • Floral arrangements
  • Wreaths
  • Bookbinding paste

Their presence isn’t just a nuisance; it’s a health concern. As they infest food and tobacco products, they contaminate them with feces and body parts, making them unfit for consumption.

Life Cycle and Behavior

These beetles are nocturnal, being most active during dusk and nighttime. Their larvae are distinguishable by their white, hairy appearance. The entire life cycle of the cigarette beetle, from egg to adult, spans forty to ninety days, with the larval stage causing the most havoc.

Prevention and Control

To safeguard your pantry:

  • Opt for airtight glass or plastic containers for storage. Cardboard and regular packaging are no match for these beetles or even larger pests like rats.
  • Regularly inspect stored items. If you spot an infestation, seal the contaminated products in heavy-duty plastic bags and dispose of them promptly.
  • Refrain from consuming any food or tobacco products showing beetle infestation.
  • Non-food items suspected of infestation can be placed in the freezer for a week or heated in an oven for an hour to exterminate the beetles. However, ensure the items are suitable for such treatments.
  • Maintain cleanliness. Vacuum regularly, especially in storage areas, and promptly clean up spills.
  • While chemical insecticides are often a last resort, products are designed explicitly for cigarette beetles. If you choose this route, always adhere to the label’s instructions and target areas like crevices, shelves, and cracks.

In summary, while cigarette beetles are a widespread pest with a diverse diet, with vigilance and proper preventive measures, you can keep them at bay and protect your household items.

American Spider Beetle

American Spider Beetles & Whitemarked Spider Beetles

Spider beetles, with their arachnid-like appearance when viewed from above, intrigue many. Among them, the American spider beetles and the whitemarked spider beetles are particularly noteworthy for their penchant for infesting homes.

American Spider Beetles:

These pests are notorious for infesting food products within households. Their presence can be identified by the webs and cocoons they leave behind in food. Additionally, they have a knack for damaging fabrics. Their reddish-brown hue, rounded body shape, and yellow-haired legs often make them mistaken for bedbugs.

Whitemarked Spider Beetles:

Preferring damp environments, these beetles often reside in crawl spaces, attics, and moist basements. They occasionally venture into pantries, showing a preference for spoiled food. Their light brown bodies are adorned with patches of white hair across their wings, giving them their distinctive name.

Dietary Preferences:

Both these beetles have a diverse diet. They feed on:

  • Flour
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Seeds and beans
  • Cereals
  • Animal skins
  • Books (especially the binding glue)
  • Fabrics like wool and silk

Behavior and Habits:

Active primarily during the night, these beetles seek refuge in dark, concealed spots during the day, making them elusive. Their presence might also indicate the proximity of other pests, such as rats or bats. Both beetles deposit body parts and feces on stored food, leading to contamination and spoilage.

Management and Prevention:

To combat spider beetle infestations:

  • Address humidity issues by fixing leaks and sealing damp areas.
  • Maintain cleanliness by vacuuming thoroughly and promptly cleaning up food spills.
  • Regularly inspect stored food, ensuring it’s kept in sealed containers.
  • Implement a “first-in, first-out” approach to food storage to prevent the spread of whitemarked spider beetles.
  • Expose infested items to extreme cold or heat to exterminate eggs, larvae, and adult beetles.
  • Use targeted insecticides, ensuring they’re effective against spider beetles, focusing on corners, cracks, and crevices.
  • Dispose of contaminated food in sealed plastic bags and eliminate other potential food sources.

It’s reassuring to note that spider beetles, despite their intimidating appearance, don’t bite humans or pets. Their primary threat lies in food contamination and the potential damage they can cause to household items. Being proactive in prevention and swift action can keep these pests at bay.

Larder Beetle

American Larder Beetles

American Larder Beetles are distinctive oval-shaped insects, primarily black, adorned with a prominent yellow band across their wings. These beetles have a diverse diet and can be quite a nuisance if they infest your home.

What Do They Feed On?

American Larder Beetles and their larvae have a varied diet, including:

  1. Cured Meats: They have a penchant for dried and cured meats.
  2. Stored Foods: This includes grains, cereals, and other pantry items.
  3. Animal Products: They can damage fur, feathers, and even books.
  4. Stuffed Animals and Trophies: These beetles can infest and damage cherished keepsakes.
  5. Pet Food and Animal Feed: High-protein foods like dried meat, fish meal, cheese, and dog biscuits are particularly attractive to them.
  6. Nests: They can invade nests located in crawl spaces, attics, and walls.

While they don’t typically damage the structural integrity of a house, their feeding habits can ruin food and animal products. They can even bore holes in various materials.

Physical Characteristics:

The larvae resemble worms, characterized by a hairy and reddish-brown appearance. A distinguishing feature is a pair of backward-curving spines on their tail. These larvae bore into wood, insulation, and books, seeking a secure place to pupate.

Management and Prevention:

  1. Locate the Source: The primary step in managing an infestation is identifying and eliminating the source.
  2. Proper Storage: Store food in sealed containers to prevent beetle access.
  3. Regular Cleaning: Vacuum regularly, focusing on areas where you store food to deter pests.
  4. Seal Entry Points: Ensure gaps and cracks in your home are sealed to prevent beetles from entering.
  5. Insecticides: If the infestation is extensive, consider using insecticidal surface sprays. Additionally, spraying insecticides outside the home can act as a deterrent.

In essence, while American Larder Beetles are not directly harmful, their feeding habits can cause significant inconvenience. Regular inspection, proper storage, and cleanliness are key to preventing and managing their infestations.

japanese beetle

American Japanese Beetles

Popillia japonica, commonly known as the Japanese beetle, boasts a shimmering metallic-green body complemented by copper-brown wing covers. While native to Japan, these beetles have, over time, become invasive pests in many North American regions since their unintended introduction in the early 20th century.

These beetles are notorious for their insatiable hunger, often wreaking havoc on various plants. Their feeding habits encompass:

  • Plants: With a polyphagous diet, they feast on an astonishing range of over 300 plant species.
  • Leaves: Their signature mark is the skeletonized pattern they leave on leaves, consuming the tissue but sparing the veins.
  • Flowers: Ornamental plants often bear the brunt of their appetite, with buds and petals being devoured.
  • Fruits: Soft-skinned fruits, such as grapes, raspberries, and plums, are particularly vulnerable to these beetles.
  • Vegetables: Certain veggies, notably corn silks, find themselves at risk.
  • Trees: A variety of trees, including linden, birch, maple, and crabapple, see their foliage under siege.
  • Grasses: The beetle’s larvae, or grubs, have a penchant for grass roots, leading to brown, withered lawn patches, often termed “grub damage.”

While they have an extensive menu of plants they relish, certain plants exude chemicals that irresistibly lure Japanese beetles, making these plants more prone to damage.

Interestingly, Japanese beetles predominantly remain outdoors. However, they occasionally venture indoors, especially if lured by indoor potted plants. An outdoor plant brought inside might inadvertently introduce these pests into your home.

Managing an Infestation:

Japanese beetles can be a nuisance when they find their way inside your home. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you effectively remove Japanese beetles from inside your house:

  1. Manual Removal:
    • Use a Jar or Bucket: Gently guide or pick up the beetles and place them in a jar or bucket filled with soapy water. The soap will kill them quickly.
    • Vacuum: Use a handheld or standard vacuum to suck up the beetles. Once you’ve collected them, empty the vacuum canister into a bag, seal it, and dispose of it outside.
  2. Preventive Measures:
    • Check Windows and Doors: Ensure all windows and doors are properly sealed. Use weather stripping or caulk to seal any gaps.
    • Install Screens: If you like to keep your windows open, ensure they have screens to prevent beetles and other insects from entering.
    • Limit Outdoor Lighting: Japanese beetles, like many insects, are attracted to light. Minimize outdoor lighting during the evening or switch to yellow “bug lights,” which are less attractive to insects.
  3. Natural Repellents:
    • Neem Oil: This natural repellent can deter Japanese beetles. Spray it around windows and doors.
    • Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle this natural insect killer around entry points. It’s non-toxic for humans and pets but lethal for beetles.
  4. Traps:
    • Commercial Beetle Traps: These are available at most garden centers. They use pheromones to attract the beetles. However, be cautious as they can sometimes attract more beetles to your area. It’s best to place them away from your home.
    • DIY Traps: Fill a bucket with water and add a little dish soap. Place a white light over the bucket during the night. The beetles will be attracted to the light, fall into the soapy water, and perish.
  5. Keep Your Garden Clean:
    • Japanese beetles are often attracted to plants. Regularly inspect your plants for beetles and remove them. Also, consider using natural repellents or insecticides in your garden to reduce their population.
  6. Consult a Pest Control Professional: If the infestation is severe or persistent, it might be time to consult a professional who can offer more potent solutions.

During hot, humid summers, the Japanese beetle can cause a lot of damage to plants. By regularly checking and taking preventive actions, you can greatly reduce their impact and keep your plants healthy.

flour beetle

Flour Beetles

Flour beetles are common pests found in stored grain products. They belong to the darkling beetle family and are typically small, reddish-brown insects.

The Red Flour Beetle and the Confused Flour Beetle are the two most common species. Despite their names, it can be challenging to distinguish between the two based solely on color.

Flour beetles primarily infest and feed on grain and grain products. Here’s a closer look at their diet:

  1. Flour: As their name suggests, these beetles are commonly found in flour. They can infest both white and whole grain flours.
  2. Cereals: They are known to infest various cereals, both in raw grain form and processed products like breakfast cereals.
  3. Baked Goods: Items like bread and other baked products can also be a food source for these beetles.
  4. Grains: This includes wheat, oats, barley, rice, and other grains stored in bulk.
  5. Other Dry Foods: Flour beetles can feed on dry pet food, powdered milk, nuts, candies, and spices.
  6. Non-Food Items: Occasionally, they might be found in non-food items like tobacco or dried flowers.

The presence of flour beetles often indicates a contamination issue. Bacteria and mold can get into food, making it not good to eat. In addition, their poop and skin can make some people have allergies.

To avoid flour beetles, regularly check stored grain and keep it in good condition. If you find bugs, remove the affected items and clean the storage area well.

Get Rid of Beetles FAQs

How do you get rid of a beetle infestation?

Identify the beetle type and tailor your approach to cut a beetle infestation. Use natural repellents like diatomaceous earth and essential oils to keep your home clean. You can also try insecticides and pheromone traps.

Why do I have so many beetles in my house?

Beetles can infest areas with food, habitats, entry points, light, moisture, and infested items. To solve the problem, first, figure out what kind of beetle it is. Then, close off any openings where they can get in and keep food stored away.

How do I get rid of beetle bugs in my house?

To cut beetles from your home, identify the specific type and target your efforts. Store pantry items in airtight containers, vacuum, and seal entry points. To reduce bugs, use less outdoor lighting. Try natural repellents like diatomaceous earth and cedar.

Does vinegar get rid of beetles?

Vinegar can keep beetles away from pantries and carpets when used for cleaning. But, it’s not a primary solution for beetle infestations. To solve big problems, use vinegar for cleaning. You can also take preventive measures or hire professionals.

Will pest control companies kill beetle infestations?

Yes, pest control companies can help to kill beetle infestations. They can assess the size and severity of the infestation and use the necessary methods to effectively treat it, such as the proper application of insecticides or other treatments.

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Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.