© Stuart M Bennett 2003
Dermestes maculatus
(Hide Beetle)


The hide or leather beetle is similar in shape to the larder beetle except the wing covers are entirely dark and the body underside is mostly white. All larvae are longer than adult beetles (up to 1/2 inch), slender, densely covered with short and long hairs and reddish-brown to black, with two spines on top near the tail end. Larder beetle larvae spines curve backward, hide or leather beetle larvae spines curve forward, and black larder or incinerator beetle larvae spines extend backward and are not strongly curved. (see pictures below).

Pictures courtesy of Jim Kalisch University of Nebraska.


Adult hide or leather beetles and larvae prefer to feed on raw skins and hides. Females may each lay up to 800 eggs. The life cycle is completed in 60 to 70 days. These larvae have a habit of boring into wood and other hard materials to pupate. Sometimes structural timbers may be damaged.

Mature larvae of hide beetles have the habit of boring into various hard surfaces to pupate, usually preferring softwoods. Some may climb 24 to 36 feet and bore into posts, studs and rafters seriously weakening and "honeycombing" these structures. Larvae are especially troublesome in poultry houses, damaging yellow pine, foam insulation.


Modern methods of commercial slaughtering, meat storage and meat distribution have reduced potential infestations of hide beetles. The presence of this insect in the home may indicate a dead rodent between the walls, in the roof-space or the chimney. Be sure to eliminate bird nests, clean light globes of dead insects, remove dead rodents from traps, check dry dog and cat food stored for long periods of time, and caulk all openings where beetles might enter when attracted to lights. Flies such as the cluster fly and face fly, abundant in the autumn, hibernate in home wall voids, attics, overhangs, etc. Many die in inaccessible places and become a prime food source for larder beetles. Store susceptible foods in insect-proof containers of glass, aluminium or steel, ideally with screw-type lids, or store in a refrigerator. Larvae have been known to bore through lead and tin materials for pupation. Routinely inspect stuffed animals and even old wax combs where honey bees have died out. These beetles will infest museum collections of insects, animals, etc., if not properly preserved.

Spray Treatment:

As it is often difficult to locate the source of infestation due to the migration habits of these insects, spot treat only to crack and crevice sites where they are suspected of hiding. Larvae often appear scattered throughout a building far from the original food source. They may be in a wall void or attic where dead insects (flies) or rodents provide a food source. Pyrethrins are labelled for hide beetles. Many insecticides labelled for carpet beetles will give control. Only the licensed pest control operator or applicator can apply fumigants. Before using any insecticide, read the label, follow directions and safety precautions. Also use of smoke generators in the roof-space will serve to eliminate some of the problem (see Cluster Fly page).


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