Beetles are the group of insects that contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms. About 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 400,000 species), and new species are frequently discovered. Some estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at as high as 100 million, but 1 million is a more likely figure. Therefore, it is not surprising that beetle pest control can be a very common need in New York and New Jersey areas.
Beetles can be found in almost all habitats, but are not known to occur in the sea or in the polar regions. They interact with their ecosystems in several ways. They often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are prey of various animals including birds and mammals. Certain species are agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle, the boll weevil, and the flour beetle, while other species of beetles are important controls of agricultural pests.
Many agricultural, forestry, and household insect pests are beetles. These include the following:
- Box Elder Bugs
- Carpet Beetle
- Boll Weevil
- Colorado Potato Beetle
- Bark Beetle
- Flour Beetle
- Death Watch Beetle
Box Elder Bugs
The box elder (or boxelder) bug (sometimes called the garage beetle) is sometimes confused with “stink bugs”, a completely different type of pest. Instead, box elder bugs belong to a family known as "scentless plant bugs". With that said, box elder bugs have been know to release a bad-tasting compound when disturbed in an effort to discourage predation.
Box elder Bugs can create large colorful aggregations while sunning themselves in areas near their host (whether it be a rock, a shrub, a tree, or a man-made structure). However, their mere presence can scare and annoy people, therefore they are widely considered nuisance pest and often require professional pest control. They are especially a nuisance during the colder months, when they invade houses seeking warmth. They generally remain inactive inside the walls and behind siding while the weather is cold, without doing much (if any) damage to the building.
Some people have been successful doing self-pest control by spraying them with streaming wasp or hornet insecticide. The aerosol spray will almost always kill them instantly, but it must be a spray for wasps and/or hornets. This technique is also most effective when the box elder bugs are gathered in large groups in the spring.
Regardless, the best way to eliminate and prevent box elder bugs is to hire a professional pest control company to treat the outside of your home. They will use products around the outside of the home that will not only eliminate existing boxelders, but will kill any future boxelders that arrive. The best times for this treatment is spring and fall, which is the most active time period for box elder bugs.
The varied carpet beetle is a common household pest that is about 3 mm in length that can be a very serious household threat because it feeds on natural fibers and can specifically damage carpets, furniture and clothing. Therefore, pest control for carpet beetles is often required.
Adult carpet beetles usually lay their eggs in air ducts, closets, furniture, or under baseboards. Once hatched, the larvae hide in dark undisturbed areas and feed on organic material. The larvae are therefore responsible for the damage of various household items, including furniture, clothing, blankets, furs, and carpets.
Infestations can be prevented by regular vacuuming, dry cleaning , placing naphthalene balls in closets, and removing abandoned bird nests attached to the structure. Signs of a carpet beetle infestation can include the presence of damaged articles as well as an abundance of adult beetles near windows. Exterminating carpet beetles can be accomplished using insecticides, oxygen deprivation, freezing, and pheromone and scent traps.
The boll weevil, a beetle that is about six millimeters in length, feeds on cotton buds and flowers. The insect entered the United States from Mexico in around 1892 and reached southern Alabama in 1915. By the mid 1920s boll weevils had entered all cotton growing regions in the U.S.. They remain the most destructive cotton pest in North America. It has been estimated that since the boll weevil entered the United States, it has cost U.S. cotton producers about $13 billion, and nowadays, they annually cost cotton producers approximately $300 million per year.
The boll weevil contributed to the economic failings of farmers during the 1920s, a situation made even worse by the 1930s Great Depression.
Colorado Potato Beetle
The Colorado potato beetle is a notorious pest of potato plants. Crops are destroyed and the beetle can only be treated by employing expensive pesticides, many of which it has begun to develop resistance to. As well as potatoes, suitable hosts can include a number of plants from the potato family, such as nightshade, tomato, aubergine and capsicum.
These pests also cause significant damage to tomatoes and eggplants. Insecticides are currently the main method of Colorado potato beetle control on commercial farms. However, it’s often a case where chemicals prove unsuccessful against this pest because of their ability to quickly develop resistance to insecticides.
Colorado potato beetle females are known for being very prolific in that they are capable of laying as many as 800 eggs
Bark beetles are so-named because they reproduce in the inner bark of trees. Some species, such as the mountain pine beetle, attack and kill live trees. However, most bark beetles, live in dead, weakened, or dying trees. Bark beetles are not ecologically or economically insignificant. Outbreak species help to renew forests by killing older trees. Other species of bark beetle aid in the decomposition of dead wood. On the flip side, several species are known as being notorious pests.
The bark beetle is known to attack elm trees. They are infamous elm pests because they carry Dutch elm disease as they move from infected breeding sites to feed on healthy elm trees. The spread of the fungus by the beetle has led to the devastation of elm trees in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, notably in Europe and North America.
Flour beetles are pests of cereal silos and are widely used as laboratory animals because they are easy to keep. They feed on wheat and other grains and can survive in very dry environments and can withstand high amounts of radiation (more than cockroaches). Flour beetles are a major pest in the agricultural industry and are highly resistant to insecticides.
Hundreds of flour beetles have the ability to live and reproduce in a just a tiny box (or bag) of infested food. Adult Flour beetles can also move around a kitchen and infest other foods in open containers.
The death watch beetle is of considerable importance as a pest of older wooden buildings in Great Britain. It attacks hardwoods such as oak and chestnut, always where some fungal decay has taken or is taking place. It is thought that the actual introduction of the pest into buildings takes place at the time of construction.
To attract mates, these woodboring insects create a tapping or ticking sound that can be heard in old buildings on quiet nights. They are therefore associated with quiet, sleepless nights and are named for bedside vigils for the dying or dead, and by extension the superstitious have seen the death watch as an omen of impending death.