The benefits and harm of the bacon beetle

The benefits and harm of the bacon beetle

the essentials in brief

  • Bacon beetles are considered to be a culture follower and are pests of storage, hygiene and material. Their larvae have thick bristles and can cause allergies.
  • The harmful insects can be killed by exposure to heat or cold. Traps or the use of predatory beneficial insects have proven effective. Chemical agents are only effective when used thoroughly and pose health risks.
  • Bacon beetles come into the apartment through pet food or through open windows. Hygiene measures serve to prevent infestation.
  • In addition to the common bacon beetle, there are three other species that are widespread. Your larvae feel comfortable in dark niches.

Is the bacon beetle dangerous?

If the bacon beetle has settled in the vicinity of humans, control measures are advisable. The insect can reproduce well under normal temperatures in houses and apartments and can produce up to six generations per year. If no measures are taken against the bacon beetle population over a longer period of time, severe damage and mass infestation can occur. The bacon beetle is regarded as a culture follower and occurs as a material and hygiene pest.

also read

  • How to get a grip on bacon beetle larvae
  • Wasps in the cherry laurel - do the insects harm the bush?
  • Wintering the orange tree without damage - this is how it works

Beware of the bacon beetle larva

The common bacon beetle produces larvae with a showy appearance. They protect themselves from predators with long bristles. This hair can be spread through the indoor air and cause allergies. The larvae look for an undisturbed hiding place to pupate. They drill into hard materials like wooden beams.

Where larvae like to hide:

  • under carpets
  • behind baseboards
  • in drawers
  • between slatted frames

Eating damage from adult insects

bacon beetle

The common bacon beetle is an omnivore that feeds on various organic substances. He not only eats bacon, meat, cheese and fish but also bottle corks, cigars, textiles and woolen goods. The beetle leaves round holes in the fabric of clothing and gnaws off the ends of fur. If food is contaminated, there is a risk of faecal contamination. Inhaling the excrement or after consuming it can cause allergic reactions and complaints in the gastrointestinal tract.

Consequences of a bacon beetle infestation:

  • Formation of condensation in infested niches, which promotes mold
  • Alarms and feelings of disgust are caused in humans
  • can destroy zoological collections

Serious health risks or bites from the bacon beetle are not to be feared.

What can be done against the bacon beetle?

In the early stages, it is often sufficient to practice thorough hygiene and remove all damaged materials from your household. Further measures for elimination or the use of chemical control agents can become superfluous through cleaning.

behaviour rules

If you want to get rid of the bacon beetle, you need to observe the population development over a longer period of time. It can take six weeks for the egg to develop into a fully grown beetle. Collect all larvae and beetles at regular intervals over the next two months in order to render them harmless.

Remove contaminated food from your household by packing it in a well-sealed plastic bag and throwing it away with household waste. If you discover signs of eating on your clothes, you should take them to a dry cleaner.

Notes on elimination:

  • Low temperature washes have no effect
  • at 60 degrees Celsius, all stages of development die within ten minutes
  • freezing in the freezer at less than -20 degrees Celsius causes beetles and larvae to die after a few days

Eliminate bacon beetles by trapping them

Pheromone traps have proven to be effective in controlling the bacon beetle. These are based on typical signal substances that the beetles use to communicate with one another. A few isolated molecules of these messenger substances are sufficient to attract the males. If they get into the trap, they stick to an adhesive surface. They can no longer free themselves and perish on their own, so that the reproductive chain is interrupted.

Parasitic wasps against bacon beetles

Parasitic wasps (€ 14.59 at Amazon *) are among the useful insects whose offspring parasitize in the bacon beetle larvae. The females lay their eggs in the larvae so that the next generation is optimally supplied with food after hatching. Bacon beetle larvae are eaten from the inside. There is no risk of parasitic wasps reproducing en masse after being released.

Benefits of parasitic wasps:

  • Convenient application : place cards with parasitic wasp eggs in the affected rooms
  • no dangers : parasitic wasps do not infest plants or supplies
  • safe control : beneficial insects die when there are no more host animals alive

Camp pirates as larvae destroyers

Predatory bug

The predator bug Xylocoris flavipes is known as a camp pirate because of its behavior. It exhibits predatory behavior and can be used effectively against stored food pests. The predators confuse their prey with fragrances and then inject them with a deadly poison through the mouthparts. After the prey have died, they are sucked out by the predatory bugs. Since the beneficial insects prefer larvae and eggs, they are ideal for combating speck beetle larvae.

Shy larva: control with dust silicates

The fine particles of silicate settle on the surface of the larvae and beetles. They have a strong abrasive effect, whereby the protective wax layer of the insects is destroyed. At the same time, silicate dust has an absorbent effect, so that the pests perish within a short time due to drying out. In order for the remedy to develop its full effect, larvae and beetles must be pollinated as thickly as possible. Simply spreading it on the potential aisle streets is usually not enough. Wear a mask to avoid breathing in the fine dust particles.

Chemical agents as a last resort

Insecticides should not be used by untrained people. Most of the poisons are contact insecticides, which can also have a negative impact on human health. The substances usually only have a short-term effect and must be used more frequently. The control success drops if you do not cover all individuals. Contact insecticides are not enough, especially for the well-hidden larvae.


This active ingredient is extracted from the Dalmatian insect flower and affects the insect's nervous system. The pests ingest the poison through the surface of the body, by breathing or with food. There is massive damage to the nerves until the pests finally die.

Disadvantages of pyrethrins:

  • are toxic to all insects and fish
  • decompose when exposed to daylight
  • effective for a short time, which is why frequent applications are necessary

Pistal is an effective agent that falls under the category of natural insecticides. It contains chrysanthemum extract and works similarly to pyrethrum. Pistal can be used in the form of sprays or powders and can be sprayed behind cabinets and baseboards. Pupae and inactive larvae have a low metabolic rate, which is why care must be taken to allow a sufficiently long exposure time.

Prevent bacon beetle infestation

bacon beetle

To prevent an infestation by the bacon beetle, you should observe a few rules of conduct. The most important measure is to close all entry routes such as windows and air shafts. Fly screens and insect gauze ensure that pests are prevented from entering your home. Deprive the bugs of their livelihood. Hiding places should be checked regularly for an infestation. Bacon beetles feel good in house dust and are attracted to skin flakes and human body odor, which is why you should pay attention to thorough hygiene:

  • Wash clothes and let dry well before storing them in the closet
  • Knock out carpets and upholstered furniture and vacuum
  • Bird keepers should regularly remove droppings and feathers
  • Vacuum up animal hair daily
  • Ventilate daily, especially in the bathroom and kitchen

Seal the joints

Bacon beetles and their larvae find optimal hiding places in apartments with wooden floors. Hair and food residues collect in the joints and provide food for the insects. Thoroughly clean such spaces and then seal the joints. In this way, no dirt can accumulate and larvae that have already pupated are enclosed, so that the beetles cannot fly out after metamorphosis.

Possible causes for an infestation

Birds or wasps' nests near the home can be a cause of pest development. Bacon beetles feel particularly comfortable in dovecotes. Also, check dark attics for the activity of uninvited lodgers. The beetles can enter the home unnoticed through used furniture or other furnishings. The insects are often brought in through dry food for dogs and cats.

Three causes of a bacon beetle infestation


The behavior of the bacon beetle

Common bacon beetles are good fliers and not particularly sensitive to cold. They are based on light sources. The airworthy insects can travel remarkable distances and come close to humans over great distances. They fly through air shafts until they reach the light, or enter the building through open windows and doors. The larvae lead a life in secret and withdraw into dark niches. The larvae can dig into various materials with their mouthparts:

  • Cardboard, styrofoam or thick stacks of paper
  • Cork or tobacco balls
  • Mortar and wood

Interesting facts about bacon beetles

The common bacon beetle belongs to the genus Dermestes, a lower classification of the bacon beetle family. Worldwide, this includes 50 genus with around 1,300 different species. In Central Europe, including Dermestes lardarius, 68 species are native. Bacon beetles are widespread pests all over the world because they appear as crop followers. They are used to free animal skeletons from leftover meat.


Related bacon beetles of other genera:

  • Attagenus : black colored fur beetles that eat fur, wool and grain products
  • Trogoderma : khapra beetles and Berlin beetles that grow to about three millimeters long
  • Anthrenus : Museum beetles that are round in shape and a few millimeters long

Reproduction and oviposition

Bacon beetles mate when the thermometer rises above 16 degrees Celsius. In the human environment, adult beetles are able to reproduce in winter. A female can produce up to 150 eggs, which are laid individually or in small packages. The female does not build a nest, but looks for a suitable food substrate to lay eggs. In nature, the insects occur in abandoned bird nests, beehives or in the sludge layer under deciduous trees. Feathers, dead young birds or carrion serve as sources of food.

Development of the bacon beetle: larvae

After the larva hatches, it goes through several stages of development. The development time is strongly influenced by the temperatures and can vary between one and five months. The larvae usually molt five times and hibernate when necessary.

  • The entire development takes about 1.5 months at 25 degrees Celsius
  • At 15 degrees Celsius, larvae development takes five months
  • Males have four to five larval stages
  • Females go through five to six stages of development

From larva to pupa

The maggots usually drill into wood in order to pupate there. They leave burrowing holes in hard materials, which is why bacon beetle larvae come into question as pests of commercial goods. Pupation takes place in the last larval shell. Casings of larvae and pupae contaminate food and materials.


While in the wild often only one generation is produced per year, the bacon beetle larvae develop very quickly in heated rooms. They can develop up to six or rarely eight generations per year. Under normal conditions, bacon beetles have a life expectancy of several months. This can extend to one year in a human environment.

Recognize larvae

bacon beetle

The larvae of all bacon beetles are clearly segmented and have long bristles. The individual links are colored dark brown with white stripes. The very bristle hairs with long and short hairs distinguish the bacon beetle larvae from the larvae of related beetles. The larvae of the real bacon beetles reach a length of 17 millimeters. The body tapers towards the end of the abdomen, the head of which is indistinctly separated from the rest of the body. Bacon beetle maggots have three pairs of legs in the chest area. The abdomen ends in two small thorn-like appendages.


Regularly pat or brush off carpets and upholstered furniture. This removes skin flakes and hair, which prevents the larvae from nesting.

What kinds of bacon beetles are there?

Bacon beetles reach a size between one and ten millimeters. Their body appears compact and is rounded to oval. The species differ greatly in appearance, although they all have a brown to black basic color. Some species develop red, brown or yellow spots on the wing covers, while other bacon beetles develop a colored band or spot markings.

The top can be smooth, scaly, or hairy. Bacon beetle larvae have an elongated body that is densely covered with bristly tufts of hair. Only a few species also develop defense hairs.

Common bacon beetleBacon beetlePeruvian bacon beetle
Optimal temperature25 degrees Celsius27 to 30 degrees Celsius25 degrees Celsius
humidity65 percent85 percent80 percent
Development time48 days45 to 60 daysmore than 60 days

Common bacon beetle

This widespread species bears the scientific name Dermestes lardarius and develops a typical pattern on the wing covers. While the front area is yellowish in color and has three black dots on each wing cover, the rear half of the wing cover appears black. There are yellowish hairs in the front area. The beetle reaches a length between seven and nine millimeters. Its oval body is completely scaled.

Preferred food:

  • Carrion and animal carcasses or stuffed animals
  • Raw hides, horn, hooves and leather
  • Feathers, wool and furs
  • Textiles and furs
  • Bacon, ham, sausage, hard cheese, egg noodles

Bacon beetle

bacon beetle

This species is known under the scientific name Dermestes maculatus and is considered a storage pest that is distributed worldwide as a culture follower. Its German name was derived from the small thorns that sit at the end of the wings. The elytra are brownish, gray or brown-black in color and covered with black hair, between which white hairs are interspersed. The bacon beetle is colored white underneath. It reaches a body length between five and ten millimeters. The yellowish hairy label between the front and back of the abdomen is typical.

Bacon beetle infested:

  • fatty foods: dried fish, ham, bacon
  • Clothing made from real hair: woolen textiles, hides, furs
  • Bed linen: down pillows and blankets
  • animal materials: preparations, insect collections, leather
  • Furnishings: wooden furniture

Peruvian bacon beetle

When comparing pictures of the Peruvian bacon beetle with the bacon beetle, you will first notice a size difference. Dermestes peruvianus is usually a little longer than its related species. The body length varies between seven and ten millimeters. The wing covers are dark brown or black in color and shiny. Typical is the even yellowish-white hair, which is thin and sparse compared to the sparrow beetle.

Occurrence of the storage pest:

  • in large kitchens, food companies or private households
  • often common in large cities
  • attack keratin-containing products such as bacon, cheese, dried meat and fish
  • can also be found in dry food for dogs and cats or on chewing bones

Striped bacon beetle

Dermestes bicolor is black and is between seven and nine millimeters long. The deep longitudinal furrows, which are particularly pronounced in the rear part of the wing covers, are striking. The striped bacon beetle has yellowish hairs in the shoulder area and on the pronotum. Adult beetles are attracted by natural and artificial light sources, which is why the storage and material pests often end up in apartments and houses. They cause problems similar to the bacon beetle.

Where bacon beetles feel good

Cat food pests

Bacon beetles can also spread in clean private households. The insects are often brought in via dog and cat food and then spread unnoticed. Another possibility is the influx of adult beetles from outside. While adult bacon beetles are attracted to light sources, their larvae are light-shy. They hide in the house and in the apartment in all places that are dark and have high humidity.


Do not place upholstered furniture directly against the wall, but at a distance. This allows the air to circulate and prevents a humid microclimate.

Help: Bacon beetle larva in bed

The insects also crawl between the slats of the slatted frame. If you find bacon beetle larvae in bed, remove them and thoroughly clean all spaces between them. Shake out your bed linen and check blankets and pillows for possible signs of eating. Dry cleaning at more than 50 degrees Celsius ensures that the pests die off within a few hours.

What prevents pest spread:

  • Vaporize tea tree oil in a fragrance lamp
  • Lay out cedar wood in the bed box
  • Store eucalyptus leaves or lavender sprigs on the windowsill

Bacon beetle larva in the wardrobe

The larvae find optimal living conditions in the wardrobe. Between the textiles there is sufficient nourishment in the form of skin flakes and hair, or the insects feed on woolen sweaters, furs and leather. They crawl between clothing or dig into the wood to pupate there.

Wipe shelves with a damp cloth and cleaning solution. Soda dissolved in water is ideal for disinfection. Also, think about cleaning up the drawers and spaces behind the closet. Check the cupboard walls for feeding tunnels that could contain dolls.

frequently asked Questions

Are bacon beetles dangerous for cats?

Bacon beetles are not dangerous for cats. However, it is possible that beetles or larvae get caught in the fur of your house tiger during the raids. In this way, they are dragged into the apartment, where the larvae retreat to a protected hiding place. It is far more likely that the beetles will be attracted to the smell of dead mice. Overall, the risk of bacon beetle infestation does not noticeably increase for cat owners.

Can you buy bacon beetles?

The insects are not only harmful, they also serve useful purposes. The beetles are preferred for taxidermy purposes, as they free animal skeletons from soft tissues. They thoroughly clean the bones without the skeleton breaking down into its individual parts. Therefore, different species of bacon beetle such as the easy-to-breed bacon beetle are offered for sale.

Do bacon beetles bite people?

Beetles and larvae have powerful mouthparts that they can use to eat through various materials. They damage building materials such as wood or mortar and leave traces of eating in bottle corks. The human skin is usually spared. There is no danger of bites from the bacon beetle for humans.

Why are there so many dead bacon beetles on the windowsill?

Numerous species from the bacon beetle family are positive phototactic. They are attracted to sunlight as soon as temperatures rise above 16 degrees Celsius. They gather in front of the closed window, where they perish. If you find a large cluster of dead bugs on your windowsill, a pest infestation is likely. Then check the food and clean all the niches.

Are bacon beetles useful?

In nature, insects take on important ecosystem functions. As scavengers, they play a key role in the decomposition of animal carcasses. The larvae mainly feed on keratin and thus belong to the food specialists. Keratin is a water-insoluble protein found in hair, horn and feathers. In this way, the insects keep nature clean.

In the home, this useful function quickly turns into a disadvantage, because the insects multiply several times a year under optimal conditions. Larvae and adult beetles eat their way into various materials and foods that can be contaminated by feces. The thread-like droppings are particularly easy to see on a light background. Larvae encourage the formation of condensation in niches, which creates the risk of mold growth.