The warehouse beetle, Trogoderma variable Ballion, is a very common (and serious) pantry pest found all over the world. They are typically found in warehouses, stored-grain facilities, flour mills, feed mills, dried milk factories, processing plants and distribution centres.
Warehouse beetle larvae infest cereal, candy, cake mixes, corn meal, dried milk, barely, wheat dry dog food, rice, noodles, legumes, raisins and spices. They can chew through plastics and aluminum foil to get to reach their desired food source. Warehouse beetles are not picky eaters and will infest animal feed, stored seeds, pet food, fur, hair, animal skins, and even the nests of rats, mice, birds and bees. Adult warehouse beetles more often feed on pollen, nectars and insect carcasses.
Adult warehouse beetles are around 1/8” long and oblong-shaped. They are brownish-black in colour with yellow to yellowish-brown markings on their wing covers. They are strong flyers. Adult warehouse beetles have one eye in the middle of the top of their head.
Image source: CSIRO
Warehouse beetle larvae are ¼” long with yellowish-white to dark brown colouring. Their bodies are covered with small hairs called setae. When these hairs encounter human skin, they can cause irritation, and allergic reactions. Ingesting pantry items that are infested with warehouse beetle larvae can cause serious gastro-intestinal issues in humans, especially infants and children.
The lifecycle of a warehouse beetle (from egg to adult) takes 2-4 months and is dependent on food supply and environmental conditions. If there is a shortage of food or unfavourable conditions, the larvae may molt several times to abate its development into a healthy, mature adult beetle. Female warehouse beetles produce approximately 90 eggs in their lifetime, and deposit their eggs in the stored products, household items or materials. The larvae will eat and develop, as well as pupate in what they have infested. Once the adults emerge, they immediately mate. The lifespan of adult warehouse beetles ranges from days to months, and it too it dependent on temperature.
If you uncover adult warehouse beetles or find larvae or molted skins within stored products, there is a strong change that you may have a warehouse beetle infestation. Infested food and items should be immediately thrown out.
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