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The Drugstore Beetle is a common pest of processed and packaged food products and it’s also known as the bread beetle. It’s a tiny reddish brown beetle that can be found worldwide infesting a wide variety of products, including flours, dry mixes, breads, cookies, chocolates and other sweets, and spices. Non-food materials includes wool, furs, leather, herbarium, and museum specimens.
It is found in pigeon nests and is known to bore into books, wooden objects, and, furniture. It has a symbiotic fungal parasite in its gut that helps it digest some foods sources. As its name implies, it can also be found in pharmaceutical products and drugs.
They are more commonly found in warmer climates and have an appearance similar to the Cigarette beetle but are slightly larger (adults can be up to 3.5 mm in length). Additionally, Drugstore beetles have antennae ending in 3-segmented clubs, while Cigarette beetles have serrated antennae. The Drugstore beetle also has grooves running the length of its outer wings, whereas the Cigarette beetle is smooth.
The female Drugstore beetle can lay up to 75 eggs at a time. Once these hatch, the larval period ranges from 4 to 20 weeks. These larvae will tunnel through a food source and when fully grown build a cocoon and pupate. The Pupation period takes from 12 to 18 days. Adult females live approximately 13 to 65 days. The duration of the life cycle is highly dependent on the temperature and food source.
For example, development will occur between 60 to 93°F but is optimal at about 85°F with 60 to 90% relative humidity. The entire life cycle is generally less than two months but can be as long as seven months.
The most effective method of ridding a home of these pests is to try to discover the source of the infestation. Normally the infestations are related to bird nests and high humidity. The immediate area of the infestation should be cleaned thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner, paying special attention to small cracks and crevices; the area can be treated with an effective insecticide but caution needs to be used to avoid contamination of food storage areas.
Heavily infested items should be thrown away. All food containers and items should be checked for infestation. Items can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer (16 days at 36°F or seven days at 25°F) to kill all stages of the insect, including the eggs. Heating small quantities of infested material (190°F for one hour, 120°F for 16 to 24 hours) in an oven is also effective. However this will age the product so it should only be done on small amounts if necessary.