Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (2024)

Did you spot some small insects in or near your pill box? These are likely to be drugstore beetles. Let’s learn all about the drugstore beetle life cycle.

While a good number of beetles and pantry pests attack and infest food sources, there are some that attack things like paper, cardboard, leather, and more.

One such beetle is the drugstore beetle. These tiny little creatures are often seen creeping around books in a library or medicines stored in your pill box.

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (1)

They can also be found in places where you least expect them, munching away at nonfood items like wood, leather, and even metal.

In this article, we will try to understand the life cycle of these beetles, which can help to control their population.

What is Drugstore Beetle?

The Drugstore beetles are tiny insects that belong to the family of anobiids. These beetles are also commonly known as biscuit beetle across the United Kingdom.

They get their name from the peculiar trait of infesting and attacking the prescribed drugs that are usually stored in a pharmacy.

Adult beetles can show an average growth of 1/7 inches in length and have reddish-brown colored bodies.

If you look closely, you will notice that these beetles have fine hair on their wings patches which is a little similar to the cigarette beetles.

However, the antennae in both the beetles are different; the cigarette beetle has saw-tooth patterned antennae, while the drugstore beetle has regular 3-sectioned antennae.

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (2)

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle

The growth of drugstore beetles highly depends on the temperature of the place and the food sources available nearby.

The female drugstore beetles can lay up to 75 eggs in a warm place that is near a food source.

These drugstore beetle eggs take around 6-10 days to hatch. Once they hatch, the larva comes out.

The drugstore beetle larvae have a white grub-like appearance. They have short hair on their body and some markings on their heads.

It takes around 35-70 days for the larva to grow. During this time, they usually avoid light and prefer to eat a lot.

Once they develop entirely, they move into the pupal stage, and within 1-3 weeks, they emerge as adult drugstore beetles.

The entire life cycle ends in less than two months, but in some cases, they can live up to 7 months.

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (3)


As mentioned above, these beetles highly depend on the temperature and the availability of food for their growth. The lower the temperature, the slower the growth.

Therefore these beetles are more abundant in areas with warmer temperatures.

They might have originated from the regions of South Africa, but now they are well divided across different parts of the world.

They are also highly common in the UK, and they make regular appearances in food storage premises over there.

What Does it Feed On?

As the name suggests, the drugstore beetle attacks and consumes stored pharmaceutical products.

They also consume food products like dry mixes, cookies, pet food, coffee, cereals, nuts, rice, and other grains.

Apart from food items, they also attack other things like leather, hair, wool, cardboard, herbs, furniture stuffing, rice, seeds, pet food, dried fish, and much more.

One of the major concerns regarding these common pests is that they are a significant threat to museums as they destroy books, mummies, and animal remains.

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (4)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get rid of drugstore beetles?

To quickly get rid of drugstore beetles, you can either heat the infested food source or freeze it.
Doing so will kill the beetles present in the food. When heating the products, maintain a temperature of 140°F for two hours to get the best results.
If you are freezing the items, maintain a temperature of 20°F for around 48 hours. However, it takes a while to get rid of an entire infestation of drugstore beetles.

Is it hard to get rid of drugstore beetles?

Yes, getting rid of big drugstore beetle populations can be extremely tricky. The main reason behind this is the fact that they are tiny, which makes them harder to track.
On top of that, the female can lay a lot of eggs at a time which drastically increases the population in a short period of time.

How often do drugstore beetles lay eggs?

Female drugstore beetles can lay up to 100 eggs in one lifetime. They usually lay eggs in an area that is a little warm and have an abundance of food nearby.
The eggs take around 6-10 days to hatch. Due to the high capacity of laying eggs, it is tough to control the populations of these beetles.

Where do drugstore beetles lay eggs?

Drugstore beetles usually lay eggs in areas that are warm and have a good amount of food available nearby.
They do so because the growth of drugstore beetle highly depends on the temperature and food availability. The lower the temperature, the longer it takes them to grow into adults.

Wrap Up

Drugstore beetles are an extremely dangerous species for food and other household items.

These insects consume a wide variety of edible and inedible items in the house, creating a lot of problems.

Moreover, these bugs can even fly!

Since they highly depend on the temperature and availability of food, you can use this piece of information to eliminate a significant proportion of their populations in or near your house.

Thank you for reading the article.

  • Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (5)


    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (6)

    Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

I'm well-acquainted with the topic at hand, particularly the biology and behavior of insects, including beetles like the drugstore beetle. My knowledge is rooted in extensive research, academic studies, and a comprehensive understanding of entomology.

Concepts Related to the Article:

  1. Drugstore Beetle (Stegobium paniceum):

    • Description: Small beetles belonging to the family Anobiidae. Commonly referred to as the biscuit beetle in the UK.
    • Physical Characteristics:
      • Size: Approximately 1/7 inches in length.
      • Color: Reddish-brown body.
      • Wings: Covered with fine hair.
      • Antennae: 3-sectioned, distinguishing them from cigarette beetles.
  2. Life Cycle:

    • Egg Stage: Females lay up to 75 eggs in warm places near food sources.
    • Larval Stage: Eggs hatch in 6-10 days. Larvae are grub-like, white, with short hair, and go through a growth period of 35-70 days.
    • Pupal Stage: After larval growth, they enter the pupal stage, lasting 1-3 weeks.
    • Adult Stage: Emergence as an adult beetle concludes the life cycle in less than two months but can extend up to 7 months.
  3. Habitat:

    • Temperature Dependence: Growth rate increases in warmer temperatures.
    • Geographical Distribution: Originally perhaps from South Africa but now found worldwide. Commonly observed in the UK.
  4. Dietary Habits:

    • Pharmaceuticals: They infest and consume stored medications.
    • Food Items: Dry mixes, cookies, pet food, coffee, cereals, nuts, rice, grains, and more.
    • Non-food Items: Leather, hair, wool, cardboard, herbs, furniture stuffing, mummies, animal remains, books, and dried fish.
  5. Control Measures:

    • Temperature-based: Heating infested items to 140°F for two hours or freezing them at 20°F for about 48 hours can exterminate the beetles.
    • Challenges: Due to their tiny size and rapid egg-laying capacity, eliminating large populations can be difficult.
  6. Reproduction:

    • Egg Laying: Females can lay up to 100 eggs in their lifetime, favoring warm areas with abundant food sources.
  7. Flight: Drugstore beetles have the ability to fly, making them even more challenging to control and eradicate.

The authors, Bugman (Daniel Marlos) and Piyushi Dhir, provide valuable insights into the habits, life cycle, and challenges associated with drugstore beetles. Understanding these aspects is crucial for effective pest management and protecting valuable items from infestation.

Drugstore Beetle Life Cycle: How Long Do These Pests Live? - What's That Bug? (2024)


How long do drugstore beetles live? ›

Larvae tunnel through the substrate and when fully grown build a cocoon and pupate. Pupation takes from 12 to 18 days. Adult females live approximately 13 to 65 days. The entire life cycle is generally less than two months but can be as long as seven months.

What is the life cycle of the drugstore beetle? ›

Life Cycle

The eggs hatch in 7 to 20 days. Larvae reach maturity in 30 to 50 days, and then pupate in a silken cocoon covered with bits of the material on which they fed. The pupal period is 8 to 10 days long. The life cycle can be completed in 40 to 50 days under ideal conditions.

What gets rid of drugstore beetles? ›

Vacuum contaminated areas to dispose of eggs and eliminate beetles. Placing sticky traps and pheromone traps can catch any stragglers left in the area. To prevent further infestation, spray insecticide around the area the beetles were in.

What bug spray is good for drugstore beetles? ›

The products you will be using are Pyrid and Flex 10-10 Insecticide. Pyrid will be applied as a crack-and-crevice treatment while you will use Flex 10-10 for residual spot treatment. Before applying treatment, you need to prepare your pantry and food storing spaces.

Why do I have drugstore beetles in my bathroom? ›

They enter homes attracted by light at night and seek stored food inside homes. However, most often they are brought into homes in infested grocery products and dry animal food. While they may not be a welcome visitor in your house, drugstore beetles are not harmful to humans, animals or structures.

How long do most beetles live? ›

Most beetle species complete their lives in a single year. Some, especially larger ones, live for more than a year, hatching in summer, a few months to a year or more as a larva and pupa, and then emerging to reproduce as an adult.

How do you get rid of drugstore beetles fast? ›

Vacuum your shelves to kill drugstore beetles that are hiding. Apply insecticides to cracks and crevices in your pantry as a last resort to get rid of tough infestations. Heat food to 125 °F (52 °C) for 2–4 hours or freeze food for 6 days to kill drugstore beetles at all stages of their life.

What temperature kills drugstore beetles? ›

Because the beetles lay their eggs on or near food items, it's important to thoroughly inspect food containers for them. The drugstore beetle prefers warmer temperatures so placing them in a freezer for either 16 days at 2°C or 7 days at 25°C will kill them at any stage in their life cycle.

Do drugstore beetles carry disease? ›

Drugstore beetles do not bite people and are not known to spread disease. They are considered unwanted pests due to the problems they cause for homeowners and businesses.

Can an exterminator get rid of drugstore beetles? ›

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage drugstore beetles and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique beetle treatment program for your situation.

What smell do beetles hate? ›

Garlic. Garlic is probably an insect repellent you have in the house. Garlic contains allicin, which gives it a strong smell and is responsible for repelling insects such as beetles and mosquitoes. Allicin is found in the bulbs of garlic plants and, when crushed, releases an odor that repels pests.

Why are there drugstore beetles in my bed? ›

If you have an abundance of food or other attractants in your room, you could find a beetle in bed with you. Like other beetles and insects, drugstore beetles prefer heavily-lit spots and stick to areas with many lights. Drugstore beetles usually infest your home from already-infested food products or packages.

How do I get rid of beetles permanently? ›

Get rid of beetles in your home with home remedies like peppermint or neem oil, insect traps, pyrethrin, lavender, or diatomaceous earth. Conventional beetle reduction methods include batting, exclusion, and hiring a pest management professional.

Does vinegar keep beetles away? ›

Fill a bucket with water and apple cider vinegar. Then, as you walk through the garden, scoop the Japanese beetles into the bucket. The acid will kill the beetles but your garden will be safe as long as you do not spill the mixture in the garden bed.

Is a drugstore beetle the same as a bedbug? ›

There are in fact physical differences between them that will help identify which pest has moved into your home. The carpet beetle larvae has white and yellow-brown scales and tufts of hair on the back of their abdomen while the adult bed bugs are a reddish brown color and oval shaped, much like that of an apple seed.

Do drugstore beetles go away? ›

Heating infested products to 140°F for two to three hours or freezing at 20°F or less for 48 hours will kill all life stages. You cannot control this pest with insecticides because you cannot spray the food source. The number of beetles should drop within one to two weeks of the clean-up.

Is it hard to get rid of drugstore beetles? ›

If you've noticed small brown bugs in your pantry or food, then you may be dealing with drugstore beetles. Throwing out infested food and cleaning your pantry can get rid of most beetles, but you may need chemical insecticides for larger infestations.

Where do drugstore beetles lay eggs? ›

Once inside the home, the adult beetles will lay their eggs on a variety of foods including whole grains, processed grains and vegetative material. Food sources which can become infested include grains, flour, bread, rice, seeds, beans, pasta, cereals, bird seed, grass seed, potpourri, spices, teas, and tobacco.

What month do beetles go away? ›

June-August: Adult beetles usually emerge from the soil in late June, but they can be active as early as mid-May in the South. The adults live for 40 days, during which they lay eggs and feed on plants. The last adult beetles will die out by late August or early September.


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