Horticulture Question of the Week
Household insect pests are a common question this time of year in the office.
I am not an entomologist. My training is in botany and horticulture. What I know about insects is from my experience with them on plants or in my own kitchen (fruit flies, anyone?). So, when interior bug questions come into the office, I tend to bounce the question over to Angie, our Family Living Educator (she’s not trained in entomology, either). I try to generate some excuse, such as “technically, it is a home issue and I’m the garden guy, so you’ve got to answer it.” Her usual grossed-out reaction appeases my inner thirteen-year-old and then I’m happy to attempt to find an answer for the homeowner.
On the day this question came in, Angie was out of the office so I didn’t get my usual satisfaction in tormenting her.
The client came in with a container of beetles, all too small for me to see with my eyesight. They are on her kitchen counters and have appeared over the last three months. I took the sample to Phil Pellitteri. He dumped the critters under a dissecting scope to get a better look (apparently they were too small for him to see clearly, too!) and he very quickly identified them as drugstore beetles.
The drugstore beetle and the closely related cigarette beetle are small reddish-brown beetles that infest grains, pet food, straw flowers, tea, old rodent bait, red pepper, flour, spices, leather, animal hair, tobacco and other dried plant material. Historically, these insects were often pests of herbal medicines and pharmaceuticals, thus their common name. Drugstore beetles are brought into the home on food items, and often spread to other products before an infestation is discovered.
You can get more information about drugstore beetles from our horticulture website.
I found it funny the container she brought them in was a prescription bottle.
Drugstore beetle… prescription bottle… get it?!