Range from 1/10 to 1/8-inch in length.


The Drugstore beetle is brown to reddish-brown in color. It is cylindrical in shape and has longitudinal rows of fine hairs on its wing covers. Its head is not visible from above. The Drugstore beetle is similar in appearance to the cigarette beetle but has different antennae.

Anywhere around food.

Females lay up to 75 eggs in the food or substrate. The larval period ranges from 4 to 20 weeks. Larvae tunnel through the substrate and when fully grown build a cocoon and pupate. The larvae are external feeders and are capable of damaging whole grains or seeds. Adults emerge in approximately 12 to 18 days and are able to actively crawl and fly.

It gets its name from its habit of feeding on prescription drugs. The Drugstore beetle also feeds on flours, dry mixes, breads, cookies, chocolates, and spices.

The larvae, small white grubs that are rarely seen, can extensively damage a wide variety of plant and animal materials stored in the home, but they most commonly infest dry foodstuffs, such as pasta, bread, crackers, cereal, pet food, spices, flour, sauce mixes, dried fruit, dried fish, and fish meal. Dried flower arrangements are a source of infestation as well. In parts of the world other than North America, this species is also known as the bread beetle or biscuit beetle. The North American common name is derived from the beetles' habit of feeding on prescription drugs. Drugstore beetles are common and serious pests in commercial food processing plants and distribution centers and in museums. They often feed externally on grains, but they can devour the inner portions as well. In museums, they can be found destroying botanical specimens, seeds, spices, stored foods, books, leather, cork, insect specimens, and mummies. The beetles have been known to bore a line through a whole shelf of books.

Drug Store Beetle Prevention Tips

The control of any stored product pest involves many steps, primary of which is discovery of infested food items or other sources of infestation (e.g., food spillage accumulation).

All dried food products need to be inspected for signs of infestation, including cereals, packaged dried foods (e.g., food bars and chocolate) and pet foods. Drugstore beetles have also been found infesting spices, potpourri and decorations made of vegetative materials.

Keep in mind that infested items may not always be stored in the kitchen. Spices, potpourri and decorations made of vegetative products may be stored in any room of a house. Infestations have also been traced to caches of nuts and seeds accumulated by squirrels or rodents within attics, walls and chimneys. A pest management professional can be helpful in finding difficult infestation sources. Also consider the following to prevent an infestation:

  • Discard infested foods in outdoor trash. Infested decorations (flowers, wreaths, etc.) should also be discarded.
  • Freeze suspect foods at zero degrees Fahrenheit for six days.
  • Clean cabinets and shelves where infested foods are stored by vacuuming and by using soap and water.
  • Store all dried food goods, including dried pet foods and birdseed, in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. If beetles are in that food product then the infestation will be contained and not spread to other foods.
  • Consider storing cereals and similar foods in the refrigerator to limit stored product pest problems.
  • Consume older food products prior to newer purchases of the same food. Products purchased in larger quantities (e.g., from a wholesale food warehouse) are more likely to become an infestation source if these are stored for long periods of time – especially if they are not stored in containers with tight-fitting lids.

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