The Danish word for skin beetles, “klanner”, is derived from an old Nordic word which means damage or harm. This is particularly appropriate, as skin beetles often find themselves in conflict with humans.
Skin beetles are part of the beetle family, and they mostly feed on dry plant- or animal remains. Some skin beetles feed on cartilage and dried meet scraps, others on hair and feathers. You might say they are nature’s “garbage collectors”, as they are the ones who remove the remains of an animal when it dies. It could be a dead mouse or a rat underneath flooring, or perhaps a dead bird in the attic.
Contents of this page
• Larder beetle
• Dermestes haemorrhoidalis
• Brown carpet beetle
• Are skin beetles pests?
• What do skin beetles eat?
• Where do you find skin beetles?
• Skin beetle control
• Facts about skin beetles
• Get help with pest control
5 quick questions about skin beetles
Thorough cleaning followed by treatment with insecticides is necessary in order to kill the larvae and the adult skin beetles.
Often, if you find beetles inside on a windowsill, you should check out the rest of the house to see if they have taken up residence in your house. They look like beetles and the umbrella term for this kind is skin beetle or dermistidae.
Many people refer to skin beetles as merely beetles. Dermistidae is an umbrella term for the family coleoptera, which covers hundreds of beetles. The most common ones in Denmark are dermestes haemorrhoidalis (in Danish, referred to as a “house skin beetle”), carpet beetles, larder beetles, varied carpet beetles and khapra beetles.
In nature, skin beetles usually feed off feathers and other leftovers from bird’s nests. Indoors, skin beetles live off food leftovers. Often, if you find skin beetles in larger numbers, it may be because there is a dead animal such as a mouse or a rat under the floor or in the attic.
Skin beetles mostly live in bird’s nests, but they can also be found indoors. They are skilled at flying.
In Denmark, the ones you will meet most frequently are larder beetles (Dermestes lardarius), dermestes haemorrhoidalis and carpet beetles (Attagenus pellio).
Skin beetles can appear in huge swarms around your house. They are good fliers and can come in from outside, either from a nearby bird’s nests or carrion. In the house, you can find them anywhere. As previously mentioned, they feed on dead organic material such as decayed matter, feathers, hair or certain types of textiles and paper. The larvae do the most damage. With larger infestations, you should check your attic for bird’s nests or dead animals.
The adult beetles are 7-9 mm in length, brownish-black and easily recognisable by their light brown band with six dots going across the front half of their backs.
The larvae can be up to 15 mm in length and they are brown on to and light underneath, clearly jointed with long bristles emerging from each joint. If you experience a larder beetle infestation, it is almost always caused by a pigeon’s nest in the attic or a dead mouse under the floor.
Read more about larder beetles here.
An adult dermestes haemorrhoidalis can grow to a length of 10 mm. The beetle is blackish-brown on the top, with a slightly golden body underneath because of the covering of small hairs. The dermestes haemorrhoidalis larvae are dark brown on the top, but slightly lighter underneath. The skin beetles have an impressive sense of smell for sniffing out carrion. When an adult female skin beetle finds carrion, it will, like the bluebottle, lay approx. 200 eggs inside. The eggs become larvae, which then feed on the carrion where they were laid.
The larvae from a dermestes haemorrhoidalis take about a month to evolve, if the temperature is just right; about 20 degrees Celsius. When the larvae are fully grown, they leave their birthplace and find somewhere to pupate. The larvae evolve into adult beetles which emerge around May or June.
Read more about dermestes haemorrhoidalis here.
Brown carpet beetle
The grown beetles are 3-4 mm long. The elytron that cover the hind part of its abdomen is brown, while its head and thorax are almost black.
The larvae are up to 8 mm in length, golden-brown in colour and have a pencil-shaped wisp of hair at the back. With the naked eye, it is not possible to distinguish the larvae from the varied carpet beetle that can be a serious pest.
Read more about the brown carpet beetle here.
Are skin beetles a pest?
A skin beetle in the garden or in standard houses is not a rare sight anymore. Earlier, skin beetles were rare in Danish single-family houses. Today, you´ll find them underneath every bucket or bag or in every crack around the house. A skin beetle is very placid. The reason why they are considered a pest is because they search for leftover foods. And once you really start looking, it´s never a case of just one. Although they live on their own, once you find one, there is a pretty good chance that there are more skin beetles nearby. Many quite rightly call the skin beetle just a regular beetle. A skin beetle has 3 pairs of legs and wings.
A skin beetle moves quite fast. Insects like a skin beetle have six legs to give them speed. It is quite common to see flocks of starlings settle down, and then fill their beaks with skin beetles again and again. Skin beetles are considered a pest because they live so close to us.
A skin beetle can fly inside through an open window. When a skin beetle lands, it will begin searching for food right away. Whether a skin beetle can search for food when airborne is not known, but we do know that it will definitely begin searching once it lands. In some ways, it is hard to consider the skin beetle a pest because it only makes a nuisance of itself if finds things like unwrapped foods.
Skin beetles can gnaw their way through light packaging. This means that you can simply keep skin beetles out of your house by keeping it clean. This way, there will not be anything for the skin beetle to find.
What does a skin beetle eat?
A skin beetle eats carrion in nature. When they lay their eggs, they typically do so in carrion. This carrion will then be the source of food for the skin beetles’ spawn. A skin beetle can eat everything that is found in carrion, even cartilage and bones. This means a skin beetle can eat an entire animal. This is a good thing in nature, as you can be sure a dead animal doesn´t last long once the skin beetles have found their way to it.
A skin beetle also eats other things than carrion. However, its main meal is always animal-based. This means that dog food and other similar products could also be a food source for the skin beetle.
Once a skin beetle has laid its eggs in carrion, the larvae will start eating the tissue of the dead animal. Once a larva is ready to pupae, it will find a suitable spot. When it is fully evolved, the skin beetle will emerge from the approx. 2 cm deep hole it had been in.
Where can you find skin beetles?
You can actually find skin beetles anywhere. These insects live in the shade and where it is cold. Try going outside and looking at a bag of sphagnum that has been left outside all winter. You are guaranteed to find skin beetles hidden in the soil. Skin beetles are not necessarily a sign of poor hygiene. Outside, they form part of the natural fauna, and are part of the food chain, clearing away discarded matter, and are also a source of food themselves just like other insects. Skin beetles can also be found in tree roots.
You can also find skin beetles under loose paving or where you have felled trees. With their many crevices that provide good places in which to hide, woodpiles are the perfect habitat for skin beetles. And many birds, mice etc. root around in these woodpiles, which create a shadowy environment for skin beetles and many other insects and animals. Therefore, a large woodpile is a whole biological universe in miniature. A skin beetle can find many places to lay eggs in a large woodpile, since many animals and insects seek shelter here if they are hurt.
Skin beetle control
Skin beetle control is not hard. You can just grab a flyswatter and get started. But if you want to kill skin beetle eggs, you´ll need insecticides. It is important to try and deprive the skin beetle of its food source. Check around the house outside to see if there are any dead animals, such as a dead bird or mouse in the hedge, a perfect spot for the skin beetle to spawn. By getting rid of such carrion, you are well on your way to a skin beetle-free garden. The best time to find skin beetles is at night, so it might be a good idea to continue your search then. It shouldn´t take long to find where skin beetles like to congregate inside your house. There are many remedies you can use, but the main thing to remember is that an ordinary insecticide will do the trick and will kill the skin beetles as effectively as anything else. Skin beetles aren´t really a pest as such, but using a common insecticide will help you get rid of them.
Facts about skin beetles
• Skin beetles can fly
• They love dead birds
• Skin beetle larvae hide under the topsoil.
• Eliminate skin beetles using powder or insecticides
If you are being bothered with skin beetles, call 44 84 43 47 and hear more about how to prevent them and get rid of them. If they are becoming a real problem, contact us for an offer – skin beetles never come alone.
Ask the professionals – pest control is our business
We use only approved insecticides. You can call us at any time of the day for our assistance in getting rid of skin beetles. We have been providing professional skin beetle control since 1985. Absolut-Skadedyr now has 12 employees, who specialise in eradicating larvae as well as adult insects.
We look forward to hearing from you, so give us a call. “You won´t have to worry about storing the dog food in the shed” any more once we´ve cleaned out the skin beetles.