How to get rid of drugstore beetles – an expert guide

Found drugstore beetles in your dry goods? This is how to banish them

Drugstore beetles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Drugstore beetles are the pesky critters that will likely have entered your house in items such as grass or bird seed, food packaging, and pet food. To keep your pantry and food cabinets drugstore beetle-free, follow our experts' advice on how to get rid of drugstore beetles.

Adult drugstore beetles will lay a mass of eggs, often on or near a food source. When hatched, drugstore beetle larvae exist in this form for four to five months and will eat their way through just about any food packaging. They are also not afraid to burrow their way through obstacles such as wooden doors to get to food, and can stay there, so it's important to get rid of them immediately to avoid any damage.

Larvae transition into a pupa for 12 to 18 days, at which point they will become an adult drugstore beetle. When mature, they will live for about three to four weeks, in which time they may lay anywhere from 30 to 100 eggs. These insects can fly, too, which makes it easier for them to move around your kitchen, spreading the infestation. 

How to get rid of drugstore beetles

Getting rid of drugstore beetles is a three-step process.

1. Where to check for drugstore beetles

'The first step is identifying where the beetles are coming from. These beetles are especially attracted to food products like cereals, flour, spices, pet food, and other dry goods. Look for tiny beetles or their larvae, which appear as small, white worms. Keep an eye out for damaged packaging, as these beetles can chew through paper and thin plastic,' says A.H David from Pest Control Weekly.

The first place you should be checking for drugstore beetles is in your pantry or food cupboards. In general, adult drugstore beetles pupate in small cocoons near where they or their larvae have been or eat.

Drugstore beetles are known to favor dark, temperate, and warm spaces.

Have a close inspection of any food products that are not sealed – even if there aren't any drugstore beetles in sight, they may have laid eggs in them.

A.H David
A.H David

A.H David is the owner of Pest Control Weekly, a blog about pests and how to get rid of them.

2. Clear out infested areas

First you need to clear out any products in the infested areas – especially food products. This also means thoroughly vacuuming and wiping the areas.

'Thoroughly clean your pantry and all storage areas. Start by vacuuming shelves, corners, and crevices to eliminate any larvae, beetles, and eggs. Pay close attention to cracks and crevices as these pests often hide in these places. After vacuuming, wipe down the areas with warm, soapy water', suggests A.H David from Pest Control Weekly.

Although it may be frustrating, we'd recommend throwing away anything stored in the area the drugstore beetles are or have been since it would be easy to miss a few larvae or beetles that can bring the infestation back around if not properly disposed of.

A.H David agrees, 'It's crucial to be thorough because even a small amount of overlooked food can sustain an infestation. Place all infested materials in a tightly sealed bag and promptly dispose of it in your outdoor trash can to ensure the beetles can't find their way back into your home.'

3. Treat the infested area with insecticide

Use your insecticide first in any cracks, corners, and crevices, since drugstore beetles and their larvae or eggs may be hiding in any small spaces. This can make them difficult to spot, so just assume they've climbed into any opening available when cleaning the space. This is also another reason why we recommend finding an insecticide with a wand or another kind of applicator so you can target these smaller, specific places. 

A great insecticide for drugstore beetles is Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor, available at Amazon, with a wand to make it easier to target these pests.

Next, proceed to evenly spray along the rest of the space. The Defense insect killer doesn't leave residue and is odorless, meaning you don't need to fumigate or clean the space again after using the spray. We do recommend using a mask when spraying and keeping clear of the space for a bit while it dries. This product should also create a bug barrier, keeping bugs away for up to 12 months.

Another method that can assist you in making sure you've caught all the drugstore beetles is using pheromone traps: 'Pheromone traps can be effective at reducing beetle populations. These traps contain a scent that attracts the beetles. When they approach, they become stuck to the adhesive inside. Replace the traps as they fill up and continue using them until you see no more beetles,' says A.H David.

Dr Killigan's Pantry Moth Traps at Amazon are most highly rated amongst these products.

4. Still a problem? Get a professional

If you aren't convinced these pesky insects have been banished after you have cleaned and used insecticide on the areas in question, get a professional in to fumigate the area.

What do drugstore beetles look like?

Drugstore beetle

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Drugstore beetles, otherwise known as biscuit beetles, are a brown-red color, covered in yellow hairs, and have large eyes and distinguishing antennae with three lumps. These hard-shelled, oval creatures have a humped back and are normally around 0.1in long.

If you suspect your house may have a drugstore beetle infestation you should also keep an eye out for larvae (above), although they may be difficult to spot with the naked eye. These will be small and white, but they will be really small so it may take a thorough search to weed them out.


(Image credit: Getty Images)


How should you prevent drugstore beetles from coming back?

There are a few ways to do this. Firstly be on the lookout for them when buying food since they often work their way into packages prior to you buying them – so avoid purchasing food packages with rips in them.

When you have your food at home, place them into sealable plastic or glass containers instead of their original packaging which is more likely to have or attract drugstore beetles since they are easier to get into. Rubbermaid's whole-kitchen storage collection is a top-selling option. A.H David comments, 'This strategy serves two purposes: it prevents beetles from getting in, and if any food is already infested, it confines the problem to that single container, making it easier to control.'

Fill in cracks that may be a good hiding spots in cabinets and pantries. This can be done using the Loctite Tite Foam Gaps & Cracks Spray Foam Sealant from Amazon.

Avoid leaving food open and forgotten about. This may mean avoiding bulk buying loads of food that will sit around for a while or simply organizing your pantry to keep tabs on what could attract drugstore beetles. Keep your pantries and food cupboards clean. This means wiping up any messes as soon as they happen and not letting crumbs get into the cracks.

Avoid storing food in warm areas since they will be the perfect home to attract these beetles. 'Drugstore beetles thrive in warm and humid conditions. Maintaining a cooler, drier environment in your storage areas can discourage their presence. Consider using dehumidifiers to lower humidity levels and store dried goods in airtight containers to prevent infestations,' suggests Zahid Adnan, founder of The Plant Bible.

You may want to consider natural repellents to keep drugstore beetles away in the future: 'These can include cedar blocks, bay leaves, or dried citrus peels placed in the storage areas. While these natural remedies may not completely eradicate an infestation, they can help discourage the beetles from settling in your pantry,' continues Zahid Adnan

Zahid Adnan
Zahid Adnan

Zahid Adnan is the Founder and Editor of The Plant Bible , as well as managing a plot of 10-hectare agricultural land. He is also involved in a project to develop sustainable urban farming practices by utilizing farming technologies to increase food production and reduce environmental impacts.

Although drugstore beetles are not harmful, they are destructive critters that can deplete your food resources as well as create an unhygienic environment with their eggs and faeces. Following our steps to spotting and banishing drugstore beetles can be a long term solution to keep your food products bug-free.

'Dealing with drugstore beetles can be frustrating, but with proper identification and effective control methods, you can protect your gardening supplies and other stored items from these pesky insects. Regular inspection, cleaning, and the use of natural repellents are key components of an integrated pest management approach. By following these steps, you can successfully get rid of drugstore beetles and maintain a pest-free home and garden,' says Zahid Adnan.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.