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Black Beetles: Facts, Harms, Causes and Safety Measures

March 30, 2018
Black Beetles

Beetles are quite common species of insects. Beetles can be seen almost everywhere. They are amazing creatures that are identified through their shell-like external appearance.  Till date, more than 350,000 species of beetles have been recorded. If we go by statistics, one out of every three animal species known is a kind of beetle.

Beetles are quite unique and diverse species that come in many forms, shapes, and colors. Each lives in a different environment that suits their lifestyle and food requirements. So would you recognize a beetle?

We must first look at the wings and wing covers. A lot of insects have wings and many of them have two pairs. Beetles vary from other insects as their first pair of wings is thickened and hardened. These ‘hard’ wings provide security for the delicate flying wings. The Latin name for this particular order is ‘Coleoptera’ which means ‘folded wings’. These wing covers meet in a straight line down the center of the back.

  • Adult Beetles generally have 2 pairs of wings
  • Female Beetle lays dozens or hundreds of eggs
  • The average lifespan of a beetle is one year
  • Beetles do not see very well. They use their ‘pheromones’ to communicate along with vibrations or sounds
  • Some beetles are not regarded as pests.
  • Ladybugs are a kind of beetles that are considered auspicious in many cultures
  • Lightning bugs and Fireflies are also beetles that glow in the dark to communicate
  • There are more than 12,000 different kinds of beetles in the US alone.
  • Beetles can easily adapt to the environment in which they live
  • Beetles tend to live where they eat
  • Beetles can both hurt and help the environment. Some Beetles destroy property or crops while some are helpful in the process of pollination, getting rid of garbage etc.

Black Beetles

Black Beetle bugs are generally found in many household properties. Usually considered as perimeter pests, black beetle bugs can become insidious when left alone to colonize and nest at their own will. These black beetles vary in size from one-fourth of an inch to almost two inches long.

They are generally black or dark brown in color with tough armor-like bodies that show great resilience. If you ever step on one, you will hear a large ‘crunch’ sound. This tough armor serves as a shield to protect black beetle bugs from traditional insecticides.  There are a lot of species of black beetles in house. They do not pose much of a threat generally but problems start arising when they are left unchecked in key areas.

Black beetle insect are predatory and they hunt for food in the darkness of the night. This is the reason they go unnoticed until their population reaches a thousand level mark. Wood chip, mulch, rocks and pine straw are the popular hiding spot for these black beetle insects.

Black Beetle Biology

Black Beetles are usually quite sturdy and can quickly cover large distances. Given their lack of wings and short body size, they are able to do so in a relatively short span of time. Fortunately, they have been given special powers by nature to know exactly where the food supply is.

Most people are aware of the fact that insects are naturally attracted to light. Seems like black beetle insects know that humans have sensed their attraction to light. The bright neon lights that are generally found at roadside cafés or gas stations seem to be the party place for small black beetles.

Black Beetles in House

Homes that deck lights or burn porch attract insects which lure in many black beetles.  These are quite likely to forage to the lighting source that has been beautifully decked in your living room. One might think that turning them off would make the black beetles go away but that isn’t entirely true. All it does is redirect the population that was living somewhere in your house. To put it in simple terms, you must treat their nests and the turfs on which they are surviving. If you do not take action soon, you might find them foraging in your home in the near future.

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Where do Black Beetles Nest?

Black Beetles adore wood chips, mulch, pine straw, and thatch under which they can build nests. These nests serve as their guards against various elements. But in case of heat, cold or excessive rainfall, these small black  beetles look for alternate shelters that can provide them better conditions.

Residential homes and buildings make an ideal shelter for a winter getaway for these black beetles.

Problems Caused by Black Beetles

Some beetles can turn out to be destructive pests. Carpet Beetle generally eats feathers and fibers. They often spoil woolen clothes and other fabrics. Powderpost beetles feed on bamboo and hardwoods. They attack items that are made of wood, including your furniture.

There are beetles such as the grain beetles and the flour beetles that hit on food products in your home. If they are present in large manufacturing facilities, they damage the food that is in production. Lawns and landscapes aren’t secure places either. Immature June beetles, known as ‘grubs’, attack directly at the root of grass. The elm leaf beetle attacks the trees by eating away the leaves.

Not all beetles are harmful. Some turn out to be useful as well. The ladybug feeds on plant pests such as mealybugs and aphids. Gardeners appreciate the presence of such beetles in their garden and do not get rid of them.

But these lady beetles can become a cause of nuisance in the summer. They swarm up the houses looking for shelter ahead of the winters. You can see hundreds of them lining up outside your house trying to invade into your personal space.

How to Get rid of Black Beetles in House?

Modern-day markets are inundated with sprays that claim to kill beetles. But owing to their relatively thick skin and upright body motion while walking, these sprays prove to be ineffective when dealing with these beetles. Black beetles always find a way to get over this formulation. It seems like none of the RTU’ formulation can prove to be effective against black beetles.


Although a combination of the two products might work. The first thing you need to do is apply ‘Bifen Granules’ to the mulch and turf areas surrounding your house. Your primary objective is to create a band of treated soil at least 10 feet out from the base.

This band serves as a barrio through which foraging black beetles would never be able to trespass. Other mulch and pine straw areas on your property that is outside this ‘band’ must be treated in a similar manner. You must note that black beetles rummage over large distances so any sites on your property can lead to relentless home invasions.

The ideal combination of the mixture comprises of 1.2 pounds of granules per thousand square feet of the turf. You must apply this mixture once a month when you see the number of beetles increasing. Or you could apply it once every 3 months when the beetles are inactive.

Once you are done with applying the granules, spray the top surface with ‘BIFEN IT CONCENTRATE’. This strong formulation eliminates black beetles. Add 1oz for every gallon of water and spray it over thousand square feet of the ground. Apply it monthly when the beetles are large in number. Once they are eliminated, keep applying this solution once in every 3 months to keep a check on them.

Carpet Beetle

If you see tiny black bugs crawling in your home, you don’t need to panic. If you aren’t suffering from bites, chances are those aren’t fleas or bed bugs. If you ever tried to crush them and they left a black or brown smear, then chances are that you have run into a carpet beetle.

What is Carpet Beetle?

There are many beetle types present on this planet. One of them is carpet beetle. Though they aren’t present in large numbers, they cannot be ignored completely. You might have guessed it right, carpet beetles feed on carpets. Carpet Beetles possess the unusual ability to digest keratin which is a type of protein that is present in human skin, hair, fur, and nails.

Apart from keratin, carpet beetles feed on items made of silk or wool. They are quite visible on the walls and floors.

Facts about Carpet Beetle

  • These are the most common dermestid beetles found in homes.
  • The larva starts feeding as soon as it is hatched.
  • Their body is heavily covered with tufts of hair, mostly on their posterior end and hence are also referred as buffalo moths or woolly bears.
  • The larvae after hatching can develop through 5-11 instars and can go up to 20 given that the living conditions are favorable.
  • The larvae can go around 12 mm in length and are brown to yellow in color.
  • Carpet beetles are attracted towards muddy or dirty fabrics and cracks where they can find dead insects.

How do Carpet Beetles Look?

Usually, carpet beetles measure 2-3 millimeters in length which is about the size of a pinhead. Their color might vary though. Some are black or they appear dark enough to be identified as black.

There are others which may be blotchy with spots of black and brown on a lighter background. Like any other beetle, they are oval or round in shape. Carpet beetles are generally covered in tiny hairs, but this can only be seen when you look at them with a microscope or a magnifying glass. Carpet beetle larvae appear to be hairy or fuzzy and are elongated.

They shed their blotted skins regularly, so you might find small piles of hairy skin in closets, drawers, or pantries.

How to get rid of Carpet Beetles?

Carpet Beetles do not bite nor do they cause any structural damage to your household. They have a slow reproduction process. They are potentially dangerous in large numbers, especially for your clothing and pantry items. You don’t really need to use a bug bomb to eliminate the carpet beetles. Professional help is seldom needed for this purpose.

All you need to do is perform some household cleaning.  Cleaning your pantry is the first step you must perform. Check all your food storage units- pantries, cabinets, and any additional storage area that you might have in your basement. Keep an eye on any carpet beetle larvae or adult or for shed skin. If you find any sign of the small black beetle around your food, discard the grains, flour, cereal and any other item present in that location.

Refrain from spraying insecticides in your food storage area. Wipe down cabinets and shelves with a standard household cleaner. Spraying insecticide will do more harm than good. Store your food items in an airtight container made of glass or plastic. Clear your dresser and closets. Carpet beetles have a penchant for woolen sweaters and blankets. If you see carpet beetles

present in your closet then take all your clothes for laundry to your local dry cleaner.  Wipe down the inside of your drawers and also the shelves in your closet using a household cleaner instead of a pesticide. If need be, use a crevice tool to get at the back of baseboards where a vacuum cleaner can’t reach. If you can, keep your unused clothing in an airtight container.

Vacuum your carpet, furniture thoroughly. Carpet beetles prefer to hide under the furniture, so move your furniture when you use a vacuum cleaner.

Facts about Varied Carpet Beetle:

  • Varied carpet beetles are known for attacking typical household objects.
  • They infest wool, furs, carpets, and even processed plant or animal food.
  • They also feed on dead insects like spiders and even nectar and pollen.
  • The female can lay up to 50 eggs.
  • The larvae after hatching can develop through 7-8 instars.
  • For the larvae to become a fully grown adult requires 6-8 months time.
  • The life span of adults is up to 6 weeks.
  • The carpet beetle species vary in color, size, and shape.
  • The adult can reach the maximum length of 3 mm and are usually yellow, brown, white or grayish-yellow.
  • These beetles are not harmful to humans but can cause certain allergic reactions like blisters, contact dermatitis and more.

Black Carpet Beetle

A fully grown adult black carpet beetle appears to be shiny reddish-black in color with brown colored legs. They vary in size from 1/8th to 3/16th of an inch in length. The larvae are carrot-shaped and long with a golden or brownish appearance. Eggs are pearly white in color and small.

Behavior and Habitat

The black carpet beetles find their way into our homes through freshly cut flowers. The Larva may be introduced on carpeting, wool or stored food kept in the home. When a bird or any animal dies in the attic or chimney, the dead body becomes a source of food for the larvae. Once it enters the house, the black carpet beetle tends to hide in dark, undisturbed and protected areas. They tend tobe very slow in their movement and leave behind their skin. The most common places where you could find black carpet

beetles are air ducts, furniture stuffing, behind the baseboard, and also in discarded paint brushes. Adults are fascinated by light and spend quite a good part of their life hovering around the windows of your room.

Food Fondness

Black carpet beetle survives on wool, hair, fur, bristles, silk, feather, lint, furniture, air ducts, dog food, stored food, and cereal. Adult black carpet beetle loves the nectar and pollen of flowers.

Life Cycle

A female black carpet beetle lays about ninety eggs at a time that hatch within 6 - 11 days if the weather is warm or 16 days if the weather is cool. She dies a few days after the hatching process is complete. A newly hatched larva has a survival period ranging from 258 days to 640 

days at normal conditions. Larvae tend to molt up to twenty times before they shed their last larval skin. The beetle stays in the pupal stage for 6 – 24 days. An Adult black beetle may survive for 2 weeks or up to several months.

Safety Measures

  • Vacuuming your home regularly is the best way to stay ahead of black carpet beetles. Getting rid of materials such as pet hair, debris, and lint can help in the elimination of black carpet beetle.
  • Dry cleaning of woolen clothes and other fabrics that are susceptible to beetles.  
  • It is preferred to store items that are made of silk or wool in air-tight containers or sealed garment baggage with pest balls.
  • If any article gets infested, then it should be instantly disposed of. There is no point in trying to salvage contaminated items.

Facts about Black Carpet Beetle:

  • Black carpet beetle is another notorious stored product pest.
  • They are the most destructive dermestid beetles as they mainly infest on keratin.
  • They can cause serious damage to household products that has keratin in it.
  • Moreover, they can burrow through different food packaging, providing a passage to other insects.
  • They reproduce in numbers and a single female can lay up to 90 eggs.
  • The black carpet beetle species only one generation per year as it takes a larva around 8 months to 1 year to become a fully grown adult.
  • The adult beetle can live for 2 months and they can get up to a size of 5 mm.
  • They are shiny black to dark brown in color and have an oval-shaped body.

Ground Beetles

Ground Beetles are one of the most common types of beetle species present in North America. They are present in many types of environments such as fields, shorelines, agriculture, etc. They also mark their presence in landscapes, around homes, and often become a nuisance inside the buildings.

Identification

Majority of the ground beetles vary in size from 1/8th of an inch to ½ of an inch in length (Some might turn out to be as long as an inch). These are flattened insects that have prominent jaws. They are generally brown or black   in   color   but   there   have   been certain species that are brightly colored – red, green, and blue.

The head is narrower as compared to the neck (known as the pronotum) and has moderate length with a thread-like antenna. The legs of the ground beetles are long and slender.

Biology

Contrary to the black beetles, the ground beetles are light-avert. They prefer to remain in the dark and are active during the night. They are invisible during the day as they hide in their resting places. These are typically found under the stones, logs, lose barks, leaves, and also in grassy areas. Once exposed, the ground beetle runs to find its shelter but seldom flies. Almost all the ground beetles are predaceous which means they feed on other insects and invertebrate animals.

Ground beetles are visible during the spring and summer and also in fall. They generally enter the homes during mid and late summer. They enter the buildings through spaces, cracks, and any small opening that they might see. Once inside, these beetles remain hidden in damp areas of the basement or under any object present on the floor.

Significance

Ground beetles are not usually harmful to people (It depends if you mishandle one, it could pinch your skin) nor are they detrimental to food, building, or clothing. They just cause nuisance once they are present inside a building. Ground beetles spend a short time inside buildings and do not give birth there.

Management

*  Non-chemical

Ground beetles are encountered in small numbers inside the house. The only control that is necessary is to physically remove them. You could remove them with a vacuum or capture them in a container. There is also an option of setting sticky traps like the ones used for cockroaches. Place these traps in places where you are most likely to find a ground beetle especially along the walls.

 

If you see a large number of ground beetles, you can follow a wide range of non-chemical steps to eliminate them:

  • Repair and Seal their potential source point. These could be gaps, cracks, and spaces around the doors, windows at ground level, and similar areas.
  • Remove wood mulch and any other organic mulch that is lying right next to the foundation
  • Stack firewood as far from home as possible
  • Remove leaves, stones, boards, and other debris present nearby
  • Remove or cut tall grass and weed present around your home
  • Minimize the usage of lightings right next to the structure or change your lights from white to yellow to curtail the attraction of ground beetles

*   Insecticides

Insecticides aren’t necessary if the number of ground beetles isn’t very large. In case they are present in large numbers inside the building, you can use an insecticide treatment to prevent your home. Apply the insecticide around the foundation to reduce the number of ground beetles entering the building. Quite a lot of products are available in the market. Most of them have ingredients such as cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, permethrin, and deltamithrin.

Black Blister Beetle

Black blister beetles have several species in the US. They generally range from 1 – 2.5 cm in size and have an ash gray or bright yellow appearance. They are seen during the day on the top of flowers and are attracted to lights during the night.

Adult blisters are classified into many diverse species and depending upon their classification, they eat flowers, plant leaves, nectar, or pollen. Blisters enter into a homeowner’s yard to look for their favored meal.

If they are disturbed, black blister beetles secret a fluid known as cantharidin. It is a chemical that causes swelling, irritation, and blistering once it comes in contact with human skin. The blisters caused by these beetles aren’t that serious and are cleaned up in a week or 10 days maximum.  Blister beetles are quite likely to come in contact with house owners while they are gardening or planting flowers, or

trimming shrubs. It is advised to wear protective covering such as gloves, or long sleeve shorts while performing any such activity.

Blister beetles pose a serious threat to sheep and horses when they are present in large numbers. If Canthardin is ingested in large amount, then the effect is detrimental on the entire livestock.

Eggs laid by female blister beetle are in protected areas such as under the stones. The larvae are highly mobile and seek out insects. The larva feeds on the eggs of grasshoppers. The newly hatched larva is quite tiny in size but highly active.

The adults of black blisters are generally present on flowers and feed on nectar and pollen.  They are also found near a wide range of plants most of them have bright yellow colors.

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