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Even if poor hygiene promotes the infestation with bacon beetles, every household can still catch the stubborn storage and material pest. Home remedies and a good dose of cunning and deceit against the infestation are healthier than attacking the pests with lethal injections. The prerequisite for successfully combating the bacon beetle is patience, consistency and the necessary knowledge of the weaknesses and lifestyle of the pests.
Harmless and useful in nature, bacon beetles are not only an unpleasant plague in your own four walls. The insects cause damage and can trigger allergies. Of the many species of bacon beetle, it is usually the bacon beetle (Dermestes lardarius) that is up to mischief in households.
The damage is not caused by the beetle itself. It is its voracious larvae that need animal proteins for their development. Cheese, meat products or animal feed are therefore no longer suitable for human consumption. Since the larvae can also digest keratin, they also infest woolen textiles, leather goods and furs and eat large holes in them. In the case of a heavy infestation, condensation can form, so that mold can also develop.
Causes of an infestation
Many bacon beetle species, such as Dermestes lardarius, are scavengers and are attracted to rotting meat. The insects react very sensitively to the smell, even the smallest amounts attract the beetles from a distance. Only a dead mouse in the basement or leftover food from a marten in the attic attract the beetles. Occasionally, the cause lies in the neighborhood. Littered and neglected apartments magically attract the bacon beetle. Occasionally a bird's nest under the roof is infested with the pests. And often the pests are also dragged into the house as stowaways with the daily shopping.
The common bacon beetle grows to almost a centimeter, is black in color and has a light band with three dark dots on the front half of the elytra. Its larvae have tufted bristles and thus resemble caterpillars. They excrete long, dark-colored threads of feces and leave small holes in food and other animal materials as they feed. In order to reliably detect an infestation, pheromone traps can be used to attract the male beetles.Stefanlindmark, Dermestes lardarius, crop from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
A period of at least two months and very consistent action are necessary to fight bacon beetles permanently. Since the larvae live very hidden, they can often only be combated inadequately. It takes at least six weeks for the beetles to hatch. And it is imperative that this new generation also be eliminated.
Before the pests can be combated with a household remedy, the apartment must first be thoroughly cleaned. Clear out infested closets, closets, or rooms and vacuum up animals and any stray food and other food sources. And not just superficially, but above all the cracks and joints in cupboards, in the floor area and under upholstered furniture and carpets. By doing this, you are already significantly decimating the population. Also, discard any food and materials that are infested or cannot be positively identified as pest-free.
Notice: Put the vacuum cleaner bag and all infested supplies in a sealable bag and dispose of them immediately in the dustbin.
Fight bacon beetles
Once in the apartment, Dermestes lardarius are not that easy to get rid of because of their hidden lifestyle. There is no feeding bait available for fighting. Nevertheless, it is possible to get rid of the insects without using chemicals. There are household remedies that are harmless to health and can be used to combat the beetles and their larvae naturally.
In order to be able to develop optimally, the bacon beetle needs temperatures of around 25 degrees. If there are deviations, their development is inhibited. Heat is particularly effective, because the insects die off in a relatively short time at temperatures above 60 degrees. Cold also helps, but significantly longer treatment times are necessary. Of course, the heat process can only be used where the materials are not affected by the high temperatures.
- over 60 degrees: about ten minutes
- by 55 degrees: over an hour
- below minus 20 degrees: at least 45 days
Notice: Wool, leather and fur products often do not tolerate high temperatures. They may be taken to the dry cleaner.
In the fight against the spread of Dermestes lardarius, a special variant of silicon dioxide is very effective. Diatomaceous earth is completely natural and comes from the skeletons of primeval microalgae. Silicon dioxide is harmless for the human organism and is therefore well suited as a home remedy against bacon beetles. Diatomaceous earth is able to bind water. It therefore draws moisture away from the bacon beetle larvae so that they die within a very short time. The agent is available in powder form or as a spray and is simply applied to the bacon beetle and the surrounding area. Diatomaceous earth adheres to the insects and causes death by desiccation.SprocketRocket, Diatomaceous Earth, crop from Plantopedia, CC0 1.0
It is possible to use beneficial insects in a targeted manner to combat bacon beetles. The warehouse pirate (Xylocoris flavipes) eats the eggs, larvae and pupae of numerous storage pests, including various species of bacon beetle such as
- Common bacon beetle
- carpet beetle
- fur beetle species
- museum beetle
- Australian carpet beetle
- Berlin beetle
The camp pirates are two to three millimeters long, dark brown assassin bugs that are completely harmless to humans. They prevent the larvae from developing into reproductive bacon beetles.
Tubes containing about 25 to 30 live assassin bugs are available from specialist retailers and are simply released near the bacon beetle population. They independently find their way to the larvae and start their work immediately. Although the beneficial insects can be used all year round, they need temperatures of at least 20 degrees and a relative humidity of at least 40% to be active. The lifespan of the camp pirate is about eight weeks at room temperature, less at higher temperatures. For this reason, it may be necessary to repeat application of the beneficial insect after about three to four weeks.
By the way: When the beneficial insects have done their work and there are no longer any beetle larvae, the camp pirates also disappear.
To pupate, the larvae of the bacon beetle bore into wood, books or cracks in the floor. For this reason, sealing all possible loopholes, especially the joints between the floor and the wall, with silicone has proven its worth. This control method not only prevents the larvae from nesting there, but also prevents the bacon beetle from crawling out after pupation. They get trapped and die off. In the event of a mass infestation, all infested wooden parts such as floor coverings and door frames must be completely removed.
Since it is almost impossible to remove all bugs, eggs and larvae, good hygiene is particularly important. Because if the pest is deprived of its food base, it can no longer multiply. Therefore, no food or other sources of food should be left lying around. In order to control the beetles and prevent a new infestation, all methods that make possible food sources inaccessible or eliminate them are therefore promising.
- Search stocks
- dispose of if necessary
- Fill food into airtight screw-top jars or plastic boxes
- Check furs, carpets and woolen clothing regularly for pitting
- Clean up spilled food immediately
- Avoid rat infestation, check traps daily
- Install fly screens on windows and doors
- Dispose of waste promptly
- Seal skirting boards and joints in floorboards and parquet
- Clean floors and closets regularly
If the home remedies are not sufficiently effective to combat bacon beetles and the infestation can hardly be brought under control even after several months, professional help is required. Be sure to contact an exterminator early on, before the damage to food, furniture or even the building fabric gets out of hand.