The Secret to Getting Rid of a Larder Beetle or Pantry Bug

Larder beetle or pantry bug is not a welcome site in your kitchen or pantry. Read about how to identify a larder beetle, and most important, how to get rid of the tiny brown bugs in kitchen cabinets!

Larder beetles get their names from the place they are often found – in your larder (an old word for your pantry or cupboard, where you store food, especially grains and meat).

You may have seen these pantry beetles in your home but never knew what they were.  Some people refer to them as "pantry bugs."  Regardless, you want to know  how to get rid of a larder beetle. If you can’t wait, skip to the end to find out my accidental discovery of how to get rid of larder beetles.

Close up picture of larder beetle

Close up picture of larder beetle

What do larder beetle look like?

First of all, larder beetles and pantry moths are NOT the same insect. This page is about the larder beetle, as seen in the photo above. It looks like a small black house bug with a brown stripe. A larder beetle has a cream to yellow colored band across the top of their wing covered with six dark colored spots inside it, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Office. Larder beetles have one of the hardest shells in the insect world. It takes a lot to crunch one of them! The adult larder beetle is about 1/4-1/3 inch in length.

Before you see the beetles, you will see the larvae. The larvae are about 1/2 inch in length,
worm-like, and distinctly hairy and reddish to dark brown in color (note the pair of spines on their tail end that curves backwards).

A picture of pantry larva

A picture of pantry larva

What time of the year are larder beetles found in the pantry?

In the winter, larder beetles often hide in crevices or other sheltered places like your walls or garage. In spring, they emerge, looking for food sources and a place to lay their eggs. Females will lay around 100 eggs, which hatch in just a few days, eat consistently, and reach maturity in about six weeks. I usually see the larder beetles in April here in the midwest, USA.

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Signs of larder beetles

According to Environmental Mangement, the signs that you have a larder beetle infestation are:

  • holes bored into your boxes, bags of pet food, or other food storage containers
  • larvae burrowed into a melon, potatoes, onions, or another food source
  • skins from when the beetles molt

According to the Univerisity of Minnesota Extension, larder beetles can find food not only in your pantry, but in dry dog food, preserved animal specimans (like a mounted deer head trophy), food hidden by rodents, and the carcasses of dead bugs (such as the boxelder bugs that get into homes in late summer and fall).

Pantry beetles are omnivores, meaning they eat anything. Besides the food mentioned above, they can also eat carpet fibers and clothing.

Obviously, it pays to keep your house as clean as possible!

I accidentally discovered what wipes out pantry beetles

I am aggressive about keeping household pests under control. One year, the neighbor had a cockroach problem connected with bringing dog food in the house. When I learned about that, I started putting out cockroach traps to be proactive. One day, I accidentally bumped an old cockroach trap, and a slew of dead pantry bugs tumbled out! I had never heard of using a cockroach trap for larder beetles. Certainly, I had seen special larder beetle traps for sale, but here I was doing double-duty, getting both pests!

Larder beetle spray and other pantry pest control products

Cockroach traps aren’t your only defense against larder beetles, pantry bugs, and pantry moths. I just recommended cockroach traps because why put two traps out when one will do? There are larder beetle traps and moth traps especially made for their pest control. I would suspect that they are the same ingredients as the cockroach traps. Some people ask about larder beetle spray, but the only products I could find on Amazon is Reefer-Galler SLA Cedar Scented Spray Kills Clothes Moths Carpet Beetles and Eggs and Larvae and Dr Killigan’s Six Feet Under non toxic insect killer spray.

So now you have all my secrets for getting rid of larder beetle. Remember, keep your pantry and kitchen clean, swept and periodically vacuum shelves. Don’t forget the other rooms of the house, too! Also, consider investing in food storage containers so you don’t give easy access to pantry larder beetles.

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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