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FOOD BEETLES GET RELIGION! — A PEST CONTROL MYSTERY SOLVED!

By Chris Williams on December 12, 2019.

For those of us in the pest control business, insects and their antics are a source of never-ending fascination. Just when you think you know more than the bugs, you run across a real pest control challenge…here’s another that took more than the usual deduction to solve:

The Church Secretary – 

We keep finding these tiny brown insects – they look like beetles – in the main entrance hallway of the church. The pastor is worried that they’re going to damage the carved wood in the baptismal font. They must be coming from somewhere inside the church.

The Facts – 

  • The beetles have been found almost exclusively around the windows at the end of a dark hallway just off of the nave or main worship area of the church. The windows are kept closes.
  • The cleaning lady has been sweeping up dead and dying beetles in the front hallway on and off for about two months.
  • The pest control technician found no moisture problems, wood exit holes, frass, or any other evidence of wood-boring beetles in the church.
  • An opposite wing of the church houses a day care center. The church kitchen is in the lower level of this wing. No beetles have been found in the day care/kitchen wing and there is no evidence of infestation there.
  • The insects were identified as drugstore beetles, common pests of a wide variety of stored food products such as cereal, spices, grains, nuts, etc. They also can infest dried plants, tobacco, drugs, and may occasionally bore into wood looking for food.

The Final Solution –

Drugstore beetle on bread showing its often hidden head. Shutterstock.

The pest control technician explained to the church staff what the beetles feed on. She further explained that the beetles did not seem to be associated with the kitchen or day care, the only areas where food is stored, but seemed to be limited to the main wing of the church. The pastor’s assistant then remembered the consecrated wafers, or “host,” that are used during communion services. The thin wafers are made of an unleavened flour and are commonly kept in the vestry near the altar.

Sure enough, when the communion wafers were checked, several packages showed evidence of drugstore beetle infestation. Since the church was dark much of the time, many of the emerging adult beetles flew to the nearest light which happened to be above the windows in the front hallway. Another pest control mystery solved!

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These are the kind of pest control challenges that point out the importance of hiring a knowledgeable professional who knows to never underestimate the power of the pest!

For more on the drugstore beetle and its close cousin, the cigarette beetle, check out these blogs:

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