Rentokil warns of surge in beetles that can cause damage to property

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With the recent warmer weather, Rentokil Pest Control and Rentokil Property Care are warning homeowners to be aware of the increased prevalence of certain species of beetles. Some species of beetle are not only a nuisance but could cause reputational or physical damage to businesses and premises.

As the warmer months encourage people to open windows and doors, and be outside more, the opportunities for beetles to enter buildings increases greatly.

Whilst beetles can be present at any time of the year, it is during the warmer summer months that their reproductive cycles are accelerated, making infestations more likely – especially when found in the home.

Rentokil Pest Control has recorded a 32.2% rise in customer callouts for biscuit beetle, and a 15.1% rise in varied carpet beetle this year, in comparison to the same time period in 2022.

Biscuit beetles, also known as drugstore beetles or bread beetles, are common pests that infest stored food products. They have a broad diet and can feed on a variety of items, including biscuits, bread, spices, nuts, and even non-food items like drugs and tobacco.

This makes them particularly well adapted to becoming a nuisance in people’s homes, as well as food processing facilities, and warehouses.

To prevent biscuit beetle infestations, Rentokil said it is crucial to ensure good food storage and hygiene. This includes properly sealing and storing food items in airtight containers, regularly inspecting and discarding expired or infested products, and keeping food storage areas clean and free of crumbs or spillages that can attract these pests.

Varied carpet beetles are a common pest in museums and homes. They are not very big, growing to about 3mm long, and are ladybird shaped. Body patterns vary according to species but are often a mixture of black, white and yellow.

Paul Blackhurst, head of Technical Academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: “While the arrival of the summer months is something to be enjoyed, it can also bring with it the threat of household pests.

“Once an infestation has taken root, it can be tricky to remedy the situation. It’s important therefore that any tell-tale signs are monitored, and action is taken as quickly as possible to prevent further risks.”

Whilst many species of beetle are nothing to be alarmed about, certain species are cause for concern.

Deathwatch beetles (Xestobium rufovillosum) are small wood-boring insects named after the tapping sound they produce, which has been associated with superstitions about impending death. Adult deathwatch beetles are typically chocolate brown with patches of yellowish hairs and measure around 5-7mm in length, with antennae that are segmented.

Deathwatch can be found throughout the UK, wherever decayed oak in particular is present.  They are rarely found in Scotland and not in Northern Ireland to-date.

Although less destructive, the Common Furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum), is a small, reddish-brown beetle, typically measuring around 3-5mm in length. The Common Furniture Beetle is responsible for 80% of all woodworm damage in the UK.

Nicholas Donnithorne, UK technical services manager at Rentokil Property Care, said: “Homeowners should remain vigilant and keep an eye out for any signs of a potential infestation, regularly inspecting all wooden structures for signs of damage.

“This includes checking for small holes or tunnels in the wood, as well as the presence of frass (larval droppings) which can be signs that an infestation has taken hold.”

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With more than 25 years' experience in business-to-business publishing, Simon is editor of LBM titles Pest and OvertheCounter. Big fan of Manchester United.