Beetle Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

carpet beetle
Carpet Beetle

What Do Beetles Look Like?
Size:
While beetles vary in size depending on species, the insects generally measure between 1/4 and 3/4 inches in length as adults. Certain species, like the Asian longhorned beetle and the eastern Hercules beetle, can grow up to be even larger.

Accidentally introduced to the Mid-Atlantic region as a result of international commerce, Asian longhorned beetles measure up to 1 1/2 inches in size, while eastern Hercules beetles rank as the largest beetle species in the United States and grow as long as 2 inches or more.

Color:
Beetles range in color from jet black to light cream. Common beetle species in the Mid-Atlantic area may also be brown, green or yellow.

Certain types of beetles feature a distinctive iridescent or metallic quality.

Characteristics:
Wings: All beetles each possess two pairs of wings. Thick and hardened, the front pair folds over the back pair and the abdomen to form a protective casing akin to a shell.

Some beetle species boast flat and elongated bodies:
true powderpost beetle
True Powderpost Beetle

Others beetles species are more rounded in shape:
drugstore beetle
Drugstore Beetle

Certain species are also characterized by a pair of long antennae that, in some cases, more than doubles the length of the body.

Facts

  • Importance: As the largest order of insects on the planet, beetles play an important role in sustaining various ecosystems around the world. However, the diverse group of insects can also cause alarm when certain beetles known as occasional invaders enter homes and other indoor areas.
  • Damage: Beetles often damage property as well. Wood-boring beetles specifically are estimated to cause millions of dollars in property damage each year by infesting trees or attacking other wooden structures and objects like furniture. Old house borers, powderpost beetles and several others species can also destroy wood structures.

Food

What Do Beetles Eat?
Beetles feed on a varied assortment of materials:

  • Organic debris
  • Plants
  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Other invertebrates
  • Fungi
  • Fruit
  • Pollen
  • Animal waste.

Specific dietary preferences vary according to species.

Detection

  • Wood: Look for wood-boring beetles within wooden structures and objects, such as bamboo, wooden ornaments and picture frames, wicker furniture, wood pallets, broom handles, stored firewood and walls containing wood framing.
  • Exit Holes: May notice exit holes in infested wood.
  • Cover: Look for ground beetles under logs, rocks, pieces of wood or similar debris.
  • Lights: May notice large numbers of beetles attracted to bright porch lights or other exterior lighting.

Damage Caused by Beetles

  • Wood Damage: Wood-boring beetles have the potential to cause significant amounts of damage to the objects and structures that the insects commonly infest. On a regional scale, the destructive pests are known to generate millions of dollars in losses due to the cost of treating or replacing infested wood.
  • Kill Trees: While some types of wood-boring beetles tend to infest trees that are already weakened or dying, other species attack and kill healthy trees within just a few years causing damage that some experts predict will eventually add up to billions of dollars in economic impact.
  • Structure Damage: Perhaps the biggest concern with wood-boring beetles is they can infest the framing of homes and jeopardize the structural integrity of wooden buildings.
  • Fabric Damage: Additionally, certain beetle species cause problems not by attacking wood but by entering homes and producing larvae that feed on and damage various fabrics.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Signs of Infestation

  • Sound: The larvae of wood-boring beetles sometimes emit audible chewing sounds when feeding within the wood of infested structures.
  • Exit Holes: Other signs of a wood-boring beetle infestation include the telltale exit holes created when the insects excavate galleries out of wooden material. The size and shape of the opening can actually help identify the specific type of beetle that produced the exit hole and caused the infestation.
  • Holes in Fabric: For beetles regarded as occasional invaders, the primary sign of an infestation often occurs when large numbers of the congregating pests enter the home and attract the attention of the occupants. While some species merely serve as a harmless annoyance, carpet beetles leave behind evidence of their presence by chewing holes into clothing and other fabrics.

Prevention

  • Remove Dead Wood: Preventing an infestation of wood-boring beetles may involve the removal of things like dead trees and firewood piles from the yard as the pests often fly inside from outdoor habitats located in close proximity to the home.
  • Moisture: Because the damaging insects thrive in particularly moist wood, homeowners should fix any plumbing leaks and eliminate the presence of excess moisture in places like the attic, basement, crawlspaces and other locations where the wooden framework of the house remains most susceptible to attack. Reducing moisture levels may help prevent infestations of certain occasional invader beetles as well.
  • Seal Entry Points: Other prevention strategies include tactics like sealing cracks and holes, removing piles of debris from the yard and limiting exterior lighting, which all make the structure less accessible and attractive to occasional invaders.

Tips for Removal from Home

  • Remove Wood: Smaller infestations of wood-boring beetles may be resolved by replacing the infested material with treated wood.
  • Fumigation: Individually infested items such as pieces of furniture may need to undergo fumigation at an offsite location.
  • Vacuum: For some beetles, a vacuum cleaner sometimes proves sufficient in removing the infestation.
  • Insecticide: Insecticide treatments such as residual applications and wood injections may also serve as viable options depending on the specific type of beetle and the other steps being taken to eliminate the pests.
  • IPM: Contact a pest control professional for assistance in implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) program designed to eradicate beetle infestations safely and successfully.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

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