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Stegobium paniceum, or the drugstore beetle, is a very common household pest species that belongs to a group of insects known as anobiids. Anobiids are generally known for boring into structural, cosmetic and decorative wood items within, on and around homes, but drugstore beetles are in the habit of infesting stored food products as opposed to finished wood sources. Drugstore beetles are distributed worldwide, and they are considered economically significant pests due to their destructive and costly pest behaviors within homes. For example, drugstore beetles invade and consume a number of stored food products that contain grains, sweets, and spices, and they also inflict damage to wool, leather, books, and even aluminum foil and lead sheets. In fact, as their common name suggests, these beetles are well known for feeding on prescription drugs, and it is commonly stated that drugstore beetles “will eat anything except for cast iron.”

Drugstore beetle infestations are usually difficult to eliminate, as these pests reproduce in large numbers on indoor food sources, and while adults may consume some food items, larvae inflict the greatest amount of damage. Hungry drugstore beetle larvae often eat away at clothing items containing keratin, like wool and leather, resulting in extensive damage, but the pests are not well known for consuming typical clothing items that are made from cotton, linen and nylon. Despite this, one infestation case saw a drugstore beetle infestation expand into a closet from a kitchen pantry where the pests consumed parts of several cotton suits, resulting in more than 1,000 dollars in damage. The beetles had been infesting cayenne pepper in a kitchen before traveling through a maze of wall voids where they eventually emerged on a closet shelf in another room. The beetles then lowered themselves onto the shoulder of multiple suits and began to chow down. An insecticide treatment was applied within the closet, and all infested pantry food items were discarded, which eliminated the infestation.

Have you ever had to throw out food items that had become contaminated with drugstore beetle larvae?