The Biscuit beetle (Stegobium paniceum), also known as the Bread beetle or Drugstore beetle, is a tiny, brown beetle that can be found infesting a wide variety of products, and is among the most common non-weevils to be found there. Fans of the Hornblower books will be familiar with these beetles for when the sailors complain of maggot infested biscuits it was the larvae of this beetle they were seeing.
In recent years Manchester Pest Control has seen an increase in biscuit beetle infestations associated with children’s cuddly toys imported from the far east as they are stuffed with wheat or rice which provides the ideal breeding grounds.
The most effective method of ridding a home of these pests is to try to discover the source of the infestation.
Once this has been found, efforts can be made in removing the root of the problem, which is usually related to bird nests, food and high humidity levels. Therefore steps will have to be taken in removing any birds nest from the premises (if this is the situation then ideally specialist advice should be sought), food residues and any food which has been left open; these steps should be followed by adopting measures to decrease the humidity levels; perhaps by way of a dehumidifier.
Once satisfaction has been reached in removing the main cause of the infestation, the immediate area of the outbreak should be cleaned thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner, paying special attention to small cracks and crevices; ideally the area should be treated with an effective insecticide, too.
More about the Biscuit Beetle
These beetles have a worldwide distribution and can be more commonly found in warmer climates. They are similar in appearance to the Cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne), but are slightly larger (adults can be up to 3.5 mm in length). Additionally, Biscuit beetles have antennae ending in 3-segmented clubs, while Cigarette beetles have serrated antennae (notched like teeth of a saw). The Biscuit beetle also has grooves running longitudinally along the elytra, whereas the Cigarette beetle is smooth.
Their larvae are small, white grubs, and they can be distinguished from the grubs of the Cigarette beetle by their shorter hair. The female can lay up to 75 eggs at once, and the larval period lasts up to several months depending on the food source. It is the larvae that are responsible for most of the damage that this species can cause.
The Biscuit beetle lives in obligatory symbiosis with a yeast fungus, which is passed on to the offspring by covering the eggs with it.
As their name suggests, Drugstore beetles have a tendency to feed on pharmacological products, including prescription drugs. They will also feed on a diverse range of dried foods and spices, as well as hair, leather, books, and museum specimens. They can bore into furniture, and in some cases tin foil or sheets of lead.