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Larder beetles

Quick facts

  • Larder beetles were named for their attraction to larders and cured meats.
  • They enter homes in spring through spaces and gaps on the outside of buildings.
  • It is very uncommon for larder beetles to feed on stored food products.
  • Larder beetles can feed on dead insects, animals or birds that have become trapped in voids or attics of buildings.
  • Serious damage to structural wood is very rare and only occurs if larvae bore in the wood repeatedly.
  • If you keep finding larvae or large numbers of adults inside your home, contact a pest control service.
A black beetle that has a brown band with 6 dark-colored spots on it

How to identify larder beetles

Adult beetles

  • about 1/4-1/3 inch in length
  • dark brown and oval shaped
  • have a cream to yellow colored band across the top of their wing covers with six dark colored spots inside it

Larvae

  • about 1/2 inch in length
  • worm-like, hairy and reddish to dark brown in color
  • have a pair of spines on their tail end that curves backwards
A dark brown hairy worm, with the spines at the end of the abdomen that curve backwards

Life cycle of larder beetles

Adult larder beetles overwinter outdoors as well as indoors in walls.

  • They lay eggs in food sources, where the hatched larvae can feed.
  • When the larvae are full grown, they search for shelter, where they can transform into pupae.
  • They can bore up to ½ inches into the wood, looking for protection.
  • Larvae may also bore into other soft materials, such as books and insulation.

Damage caused by larder beetles

Adults and larvae eat high-protein materials, such as animal hides and furs, feathers, meat, cheese, dry pet foods and dead animals or insects.

  • Larder beetles can infest dry pet food and make it inedible.
  • They can destroy preserved animal specimens.
  • Food hidden by rodents may also attract these beetles.

Insects such as cluster flies and boxelder bugs get into homes in late summer and fall. You will notice a larder beetle problem in the next season, if large numbers of these insects die off.

How to protect your home from larder beetles

You may see a few adult larder beetles inside your home in spring. This does not mean that there is an infestation.

They may have come in from the outdoors and may not be associated with a food source.

When you see larvae, and large number of adults inside the home, there is a larder beetle problem.

As long as a food source remains, larder beetles will continue to be a problem.

Look for the source of the infestation

  • Look in areas where you see the most larder beetles.
  • Check areas where food is stored, including dry pet food.
  • You may require an inspection of your home for rodent activity, especially if your home or cabin has a crawl space.
  • If dead insects or dead animals in inaccessible areas of the building are the food source, then control becomes more challenging.

Using pesticides

Your best option is to physically remove larder beetles (e.g. with a vacuum) as you see them.

Pesticide sprays or dusts applied indoors will not be effective, if the food source is not removed.

You can reduce the number of overwintering insects by treating them in the fall before they get inside.

  1. Seal cracks and spaces around your home that may allow insects to enter.

  2. Apply a residual pesticide around the exterior of your building.

Contact a professional pest control service to treat a home for overwintering insects.

CAUTION: Mention of a pesticide or use of a pesticide label is for educational purposes only. Always follow the pesticide label directions attached to the pesticide container you are using. Remember, the label is the law.

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension entomologist and Stephen Kells, Extension entomologist

Reviewed in 2018

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