Beetles are a nuisance because of their ability to damage stored food and property. The pests can damage:
Beetles belong to the insect order Coleoptera. This is the largest order of insects. There are more than a quarter million beetle species in the world. In North America alone, scientists have identified more than 25,000 species.
Beetles develop in a complete metamorphosis four-stage life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). The length of the life cycle also varies according to the type. Some develop very quickly and they can produce more than one generation each year. Others, like some of the wood-boring beetles can take several years to decades to develop from egg to adult. The length of the life cycle also depends on the amount of food that is available for the larvae to eat as well as environmental conditions.
What Do Beetles Eat?
They feed on plants, small insects and animal fibers, depending on species. A few beetles are considered pests in gardens and crops, although some species may benefit humans by killing harmful insects. Adults often deposit their eggs near the food that the larvae will eat when they hatch.
Problem Behaviors Carpet beetle larvae eat natural fibers and feathers. They often damage woolens and other fabrics. Others, like powderpost beetles, feed on hardwoods and bamboo. These pests attack furniture and other items made of wood.
Some, like the flour beetles and the grain beetles, attack food products in homes. They also damage food in production facilities and stores. Some damage lawns and landscapes. Immature June beetles, called grubs, attack the roots of grass. The elm leaf beetle damages trees by eating the leaves.
Many beetles are beneficial insects. The lady beetle (often called ladybug) feeds on plant pests like aphids and mealybugs. Gardeners appreciate these insects and try to keep them in the garden.
Sometimes lady beetles can become nuisances. In the late summer and fall, homeowners can find hundreds clustered on the outside of homes. They are trying to invade homes for shelter through the winter or are looking to escape inclement conditions.
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