The drugstore beetle may have gotten its name by attacking the drugs and other materials in early pharmacies. It is a serious pest of stored food in homes and commercial facilities.
The adult drugstore beetle is a small brown insect — less than 1/8″ long. It has an oval shape and there are tiny holes on the back. The head is not visible from above, so the beetle has a “humped” appearance.
Many people confuse the drugstore beetle with the cigarette beetle. They both have tiny holes on their back. The drugstore beetle's tiny holes are arranged in straight rows. The holes on the back of the cigarette beetle are not in rows.
The drugstore beetle's antennae are straight and they end in clubs that are made of three segments. The antennae of the cigarette beetle are serrated like the teeth of a saw blade.
The adult drugstore beetle deposits its eggs on something that the larvae will be able to eat. The larvae can digest hair and feathers as well as spices and most grain products. The larvae can infest almost anything in the pantry. They can also find food in many other rooms of the home.
Controlling drugstore beetles starts with a thorough inspection. It is important to find everything that the larvae are eating. In the pantry, inspect every food package. Discard everything that is infested. Vacuum the shelves of the pantry and cabinets before replacing the packages. Store food in containers that close tightly.
Drugstore beetles have been found feeding on books and other paper items. It may be necessary to inspect other rooms besides the kitchen to find the source of the infestation. Heating infested items to a temperature of 140° to 176° for a few hours can kill the insects and the eggs. It may be a good idea to consult a specialist before trying to heat-treat infested antiques, furs, animal trophies, or other valuables.