The attack of the pesky pollen beetles

Two minutes into what was supposed to be my hammock chill time and I look down to find my top is covered in pollen beetles – those tiny black things that seem to love anything brightly coloured. I realised then that maybe the almost luminous yellow t-shirt I was wearing was maybe a bad idea.

After a quick change into something less dazzling I returned to my hammock only to find that said hammock also has bright green stripes running through it – man, those beetles love bright colours! Determined not to let these little critters spoil my hammock time I set my mind to action to come up with a plan on how to rid myself and hammock of these bugs – in other words, I Googled it.

What are pollen beetles? Pollen beetles are small bronzy or black shinny beetles that visit the flowers of a wide range of ornamental plants and vegetables, where they feed on pollen.

Apparently, pollen beetles are totally harmless to humans if not slightly annoying. I kind of felt sorry for them in the end as they’re only looking for lovely flowers to feed on and our hammocks are so beautiful they just couldn’t resist.
So how did I get them to leave me and my hammock in peace?

I got two high vis vests we use when cycling with our children and hung them at either end of the hammock stand. I got a dark brown throw from the house, shook the hammock till the all the beetles flew off and placed the throw on top hiding all the bright colours. Hey presto, pollen beetles loved their high vis vests, I was bug-free on my hammock. Nothing to spoil my hammock chill time now, nothing to pester me, I was in peace…….’mammy? mammy!!!’ ah well, I tried 😉
Anneka – Simply Hammocks


Pollen beetles migrate to winter oilseed rape crops from mid-March and throughout April. Eggs are laid in the flower buds and the larvae (grubs) develop within the flowers. If flowers are not open, beetles bite into and kill buds. Damage to buds declines as the flowers begin to open and pollen becomes more easily obtainable. Egg laying damage to the buds of oilseed rape can cause the flowers to drop off. Both adults and larvae feed on the pollen and nectar in the flowers. Struggling crops may produce fewer side shoots and green buds, meaning lower pollen beetle numbers could be a threat. In recent years, pollen beetles have rarely been abundant enough to warrant treatment: careful monitoring can prevent unnecessary ‘insurance’ sprays and preserve the efficacy of pyrethroid products.

Control recommendations

Monitor crops from green to yellow bud whenever temperature is 15ºC or higher. Don’t panic spray – oilseed rape can tolerate quite a lot of damage by compensatory regrowth. Please check if the AHDB thresholds in the table below have been exceeded. Sample at least 10 plants along a 30 metre transect from the middle of the headland towards the centre of the crop and calculate the average number of beetles per plant. Once pest levels ARE ABOVE THRESHOLD treatment is justified to protect yield – apply a full rate of pyrethroid to minimise the risk of resistance development. If beetles are still active and numbers exceed the threshold three days after treatment try using an insecticide with an alternative mode of action such as thiacloprid (e.g. Biscaya), pymetrozine (e.g. Plenum) or indoxacarb (e.g. Rumo). None of these may be used more than once in a crop.

Spraying when pest levels are low increases the risk of resistance evolving in the pest and also may kill natural enemies of the pest or other beneficial insects. Resistance to pyrethroids has been reported since 1999 in mainland Europe and is spreading in the UK.

Do NOT spray after flowering starts: the pollen beetles migrate to open flowers, away from the buds, and become pollinators rather than pests.

Treatment thresholds

Current spray thresholds for winter and spring oilseed rape are:

Plants/sq m
Pollen beetles per plant

< 30


Pollen beetle larvae are attacked by parasitic wasps. 25-50% of larvae are killed by these on unsprayed crops. Where insecticides are used extensively, levels of parasitism can be considerably lower. The parasitic wasps may not be affected by insecticides applied against pollen beetle at green bud, as they arrive in crops during flowering.

Related links

Oilseed rape crops are at highest risk of pollen beetle when migration coincides with the yellow/green bud stage of growth. At this stage migrating populations don’t have access to flower pollen and instead chew into the bud and lay their eggs, causing the bud to drop off before flowering occurs. Once at flowering, pollen beetle abundance becomes an advantage to the crop as insects contribute to crop pollination.

So crop growth stage in relation to the pollen beetle migration is critical in determining risk. Extra due-diligence should be applied in cases where the crop is uneven.

During the pollen beetle migration, the following factors are key to responsible crop protection.

Optimum weather conditions for pollen beetle migration are warm and dry, with temperatures above 15°C. Growers should be particularly vigilant when these conditions coincide with crops at the green/yellow bud stage.

Monitoring local weather data usually from mid-March (but occasionally earlier if weather is conducive) and throughout April helps predict when crops may be at risk of migrating pollen beetles.

Walking fields is key in detecting pollen beetle presence and understanding when action is required. Growers are advised to monitor the crop periodically at the stage of green-yellow bud, up to flowering.

It is useful to put yellow sticky traps out in fields to aid population monitoring, and this acts as a practical tool to understand when thresholds have been exceeded.

Damage thresholds are in place to guide growers while monitoring the population level of pollen beetle and serve as a protection against unnecessary crop spraying. Flowering crops will not require treatment.

Plant population per m² Pollen beetle per plant
<30 25
30-50 18
50-70 11
>70 7

(Source: HGCA Information Sheet 18/Spring 2013 ‘Monitoring and control of pollen beetle in oilseed rape’)

Natural predators such as parasitic wasps can help keep pollen beetle larvae at bay and protect crops against potential damage. Growers noticing parasitic wasps in their crop should consider the natural benefit of these insects and only spray insecticide treatments when absolutely necessary.

“Unnecessary spraying can have unwanted effects on insects which are beneficial for pest control,” says Dr Sam Cook, a behavioural ecologist from Rothamsted Research. Insecticide treatment of pollen beetle should not be used unless thresholds are exceeded, and treatment is not necessary on flowering crops, she says.

Due to the increasing resistance to pyrethroid insecticides, in cases where pollen beetle populations exceed thresholds and need treating use a product with no known resistance issues, such as Biscaya (thiacloprid), which also allows for flexible treatment where crops are uneven.

Claire Matthewman, from Bayer explains: “Where crops are uneven, Biscaya’s label allows for treatment where some very early flowering has begun, which could help protect crops at different growth stages.”

Introduction – Distribution – Life Cycle and Description- Medical and Economic Significance – Management – Selected References

The black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor (Brahm), is the most common and most destructive of the five important species of carpet beetles in the United States. It damages household products containing keratin, a principal protein found in animal hair and feathers. Plant products such as cereals and grains, as well as synthetic fabrics not derived from animal matter, may also be attacked. Dried insect specimens, such as those found in insect collections, are also devoured.

Figure 1. Adult black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor (Brahm). Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida.

Distribution (Back to Top)

The black carpet beetle is found throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It is believed that this pest may have been imported to the United States in the early 19th century from Europe where it is not considered a major pest. Humidity plays a large role for development of carpet beetles. In the southern states, high humidity may often cause the black carpet beetle’s eggs to become moldy while in the northern states lower humidity is usually favorable for a successful egg hatch.

Life Cycle and Description (Back to Top)

The black carpet beetle undergoes complete metamorphosis, passing through the egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. This cycle requires two months to two years depending on temperature.

Adults: Dark brown or black adults are oval shaped and 1/8 to 3/16 inch in length. This stage feeds outdoors on pollen and nectar, migrating indoors to lay eggs about a week after emergence. Adults can live nine months to three years depending on food availability and other environmental factors.

Eggs: Females lay about 50 small, white eggs which hatch in six to ten days. Eggs are deposited in lint, cracks, and other areas near larval food supply where they are rarely seen.

Larva: The larva of the black carpet beetle is the damaging stage of this pest. The cigar-shaped larva is long and narrow with short, stiff hairs on a dark brown to black body. Long, bristlelike tails are visible on older larvae. A black carpet beetle larva may grow 1/2 inch long while undergoing five to 11 molts. Cast larval skins are often seen on infested fabrics and can easily be mistaken for living larvae. The larval stage may require three months to nearly two years in order for pupation to occur.

Figure 2. Larva of the black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor (Brahm). Photograph by Clemson University;

Pupae: The black carpet beetle pupates in its last larval skin after the majority of larval feeding and growth occurs. The pupal stage lasts six to 24 days.

Medical and Economic Significance (Back to Top)

The black carpet beetle is considered a general feeder but economic damage primarily occurs on fabrics in the household. They are known to eat large, irregular holes through any acceptable food material. They prefer to feed on the surface of wool products or at the base of furs, leaving bare spots on the hide. On most fabrics the nap is usually consumed leaving the base threads intact. Additionally, the black carpet beetle may be a pest of stored products when it invades containers of cereals, nuts, and stored grain. Black carpet beetle damage renders most fabrics aesthetically unappealing and useless. Furthermore, those in close association with black carpet beetles may suffer allergic reactions as a result of exposure to beetle fragments, cast skins, or dust.

Management (Back to Top)

Black carpet beetles can be detected by close inspection of susceptible household goods. Depending on the value of the infested product, some may opt to discard the product while others may choose control options in an effort to salvage the goods.

Careful inspection is the first step in controlling black carpet beetle infestations. All susceptible household fabrics ranging from rugs to mounted animal specimens must be inspected closely for presence of larvae, their cast skins, and damage. Other food sources such as stored grains, bird seed, and cereals should also be examined. Since adult beetles feed on pollen and nectar, all cut flowers from the outdoors should be inspected for black carpet beetle presence. Screens should also be installed around windows, and doors should be tightly fitted to prevent adults from entering the structure. Additionally, black carpet beetles favor animal nests such as those of birds and rodents and can be a source of infestation in the winter when the first sign of cold weather forces the beetles indoors. Location and removal of such nests before winter can also prevent infestation.

Vacuuming may be used to remove debris such as animal hair and lint that serves as a food source for black carpet beetles. When located, infested articles should be disposed of. However, if the item is of high value, several options are available. Items such as furs can be placed in cold storage at temperatures around 40°F. Also, some items may be frozen for a week in an effort to kill all beetle larvae.

In the case of a heavy infestation, insecticide treatment may be necessary. Before using insecticide treatments for carpet beetles, the premises should be thoroughly vacuumed. Cracks and crevices can be treated with a dust such as diatomaceous earth or silica aerogel. These dusts may also be applied at the edge of carpeting near the baseboards in infested rooms. Spot treatment of rugs may be made with residual sprays. Emulsifiable concentrates are the best formulations for treatment of carpets and rugs. Some extreme cases may require fumigation by a pest control professional. Fumigation offers elimination of the current infestation but no residual protection is provided, allowing for reinfestation.

Paradichlorobenzene (moth balls) and napthalene offer little protection against black carpet beetles. Paradichlorobenzene has been shown to slightly inhibit feeding but is not an effective repellent against the black carpet beetle.

Selected References (Back to Top)

  • Baker JE. 1986. Influence of larva weight and temperature change on survival and pupation in black carpet beetle (Coleoptera: Dermestidae). Environmental Entomology 15: 1166-1170.
  • Bennet GW, Owens JM, Corrigan RM. 1997. Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Control Operations, 5th Ed. Advanstar Communications, Cleveland.
  • Black J. 2004. Fabric and museum pests. pp. 581-633. In Morland D (ed.), Handbook of Pest Control (Mallis A), Ninth Edition. GIE Media, Inc.
  • Bry RE, Jurd L, Lang JH, Boatright RE. 1978. Mothproofing: candidate repellents against black carpet beetle larvae, Attagenus megatoma (Coleoptera: Dermestidae). Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 13: 63-66.
  • Bry RE, Lang JH, Boatright RE. 1983. Toxicity of three pyrethroid insecticides to eggs of the black carpet beetle, Attagenus megatoma, and the webbing clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella. Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 18: 394-398.
  • Robinson WH. 1996. Urban Entomology: Insect and Mite Pests in the Human Environment. Chapman & Hall, New York.
  • Su NY, Scheffrahn RH. 1990. Efficacy of sulfuryl fluoride against four beetle pests of museums (Coleoptera: Dermestidae, Anobiidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 83: 879-882.

Identify Small Black Bugs in Your House – Best Tips for You

Black bugs are small pests of the insect group that can be disconcerting in your house. They can get into your stored food and sometimes scare your kids, although they are not harmful at times. Their presence is somehow considered normal, but many wish to eradicate them. When many parents notice small black bugs with the hard shell in the house, pesticides are the first eradicating plan that comes in their heads. But with kids in the house, use of pesticides is never a good option. Ingestion of pesticides can result in death, leukemia, or lymphoma. There are better and safe natural ways to get rid of these small black bugs without using pesticides.

What Are the Black Bugs in the House?

There are types of these small black bug animals. Below are explanations of insects you might be seeing.

1. Carpet beetles

Carpet beetles also are known as little black beetles and are most common around house carpet. They feed on cloth fiber, pet foods, or cereals. It’s somehow hard to notice these insects due to their slow reproductive nature, but you will find them in most homes. They do not cause diseases nor bite human beings.

2. Grain insects

You have to worry about grain insects. There are different types such as the red flour beetle, rice weevils, or flour beetles. They are most common in stored food and can get into your food store through bought grains or flour products. They feed on your stored food lowering its quality. Adult beetles can live for a year. You will find their eggs and grains on flour containers, boxes, and sacs.

3. Centipedes

If there are house black bugs that can scare you or your kids, house centipedes come at the top. They are insects with about 15 legs and can be very scary to see them crawl. Catching them is close to impossible, as they can move about 1.3 feet in a single second. Although house centipedes are creepy, they help to kill other unwelcome house insects or pests like termites, moths, silverfish, cockroaches, and flies. They use their forward legs which are packed with venom to kill them. The decision on whether to kill them or not is yours.

4. Fleas

Fleas are among the most unwelcomed black bugs. They get into your house through pets. What makes them the worst of all pets is the fact they do bite. They are small insects, but during warmer months like the summer, they do bite people a lot. You need to think of how to get rid of these insects.

5. Cockroaches

You will find more cockroaches in areas where you store your food and water. They live in areas where you store flour, cereals, sugar or in the refrigerators where you store your veggies and fruits. One annoying thing about cockroaches is they are hard to get rid of. When noticed, they will run and hide in some dark places. To help get rid of them, remove all old newspapers, magazines, cartons or debris. Those are the places they hide most.

6. Pillbugs

Other types of small black bugs with the hard shell in the house are pill bugs. They love to live in moist areas. You will see them around stones and flowerpots at night. During the day they hide and at night they get out to feed on decaying veggie matter and house flowers.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in the House

In case black bugs have become a concern in your home, there are perfect ways to get rid of those insects without making a call to the pest control expert or using pesticides. Below are the main ways.

Use peppermint oil

Are mosquitoes, ants or even spiders a nuisance to your home? Peppermint will not only get rid of such insects but also make your house smell good due to its sweet fragrance. Mix about eight ounces of water with eight drops of natural peppermint oil in a hand spray, shake and then spray around vents, doorways, and windows.

Use diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made from single-cell algae which have been fossilized and crushed. If stink bugs, flies, bed bugs, earwigs, beetles, and spiders have invaded your house; DE is the way to go. It is not harmful to human beings but deadly to small black bugs with the hard shell in-house. It takes only 48 hours after this black bug’s exoskeleton gets into contact with DE for them to dehydrate and die.

Use neem oil

Neem oil, a product from the neem tree, does act as a powerful pest and insect killer. Neem oil kills more than 200 species of pest and insect. Yes, it is deadly to them but not harmful to wildlife or human beings. Are aphids, thrips, or whiteflies disturbing you? Try neem oil.

Clean the pantry

Most insects and pests live in your home because there is something they can to feed on. Those cabinets, pantries, garages, basements, or any storage places you have are some of the places black bugs live, breed and feed around. By cleaning those shelves and areas, you will get rid of shed skin and larvae thus stopping the reproduction. If your flour, grains, cereals are affected, you have to dispose of them to get rid of the insets entirely.

Clean out closets and dressers

Little black bugs like cockroaches and carpet beetles that live in and around carpets, wardrobes, and furniture drawers. By cleaning these areas well without using pesticides, you will get rid of shed skin from these insects, larvae and even those insects themselves.

Get rid of standing water

Some flies, gnats, and mosquitoes breed best in dumpsites and places with stagnant water. Any glass containing stagnant water or garbage should be well covered, or just get rid of any stagnant water.

When some of these insects are left to breed, they can increase to unimaginable numbers. If you feel they are irritating you or your family, use the above-explained reference info. You will succeed in getting rid of them without even using a single type of pesticide.

Black beetles invade house; now what? Ask an expert

As we move into fall, gardening season is not slowing down yet. We’re still in high gear with fall planting and lawn renovation and everyone seems to have a question. Get answers from Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days. To ask a question, go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?

How to get rid of these beetles?

Q: There has been an outbreak of small black beetles in my home. Will you please let me know what type of beetle it is and what to do about getting rid of them. We have cats so I need a safe way to eradicate them.
– Benton County

Don’t Edit

A: The photo is a little blurry but the pattern on this insect is pretty distinctive. It looks like it’s probably Mediterranean seed bug (Xanthochilus saturnius).
I’m sharing a response from fellow expert Jean Natter that is relevant to a variety of seed bug species:
“The insects are called seed bugs, of which several different kinds have invaded Oregon during recent years. Perhaps the best known, and most widely distributed native seed bugs here in the Northwest, are boxelder bugs. Boxelders are about a half-inch long; these new invaders are quite small, about a quarter inch or slightly less. The bugs in your pictures most closely match the Mediterranean seed bug (Xanthochilus saturnius).
Seed bugs are one of those good-news-bad-news stories. The good news is that their diet doesn’t include people, pets, structures or garden plants. The bad news is they are extremely annoying nuisance insects.
When seed bugs abandon their favored seed hosts during the fall, they are on a mission to locate a sheltered site to spend the winter. Far too often, houses are a perfect fit. The insects congregate on a south- or west-facing wall where they bask in the warmth of the sun. When outdoor temperatures drop, seed bugs sometimes invade interior spaces, entering via small cracks and crevices around windows and doors, also where utilities enter.
Management seldom involves pesticides. Instead, caulk and seal all entries you find indoors now, but wait until July to block the exterior. A wet-dry shop vac with soapy water inside is useful when getting rid of large quantities of the bugs. See this fact sheet by Washington State University.
You can also read more about these insects under “Exotic Seed Bugs” in the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook.
– Elizabeth Records, OSU Extension horticulturist

Don’t Edit

Courtesy of OSU Extension Service

What’s wrong with this hydrangea?

Q: My new hydrangeas never bloomed this year and now are permanently dropping and shedding leaves.
– Lane County

Don’t Edit

A: Hydrangeas are exceptionally sensitive to heat stress and require more water than most shrubs (hydra=water). This is also the time of the year that they start looking sadder and start dropping a lot of leaves. Almost always lack of flowering is a factor of improper pruning timing. The timing depends on which hydrangea you have.
Hydrangeas need time to settle in before they can bloom. Yours have probably not established themselves yet. Although they need much water, they must not live in a “swamp.”
One of our other experts would like you to also have this information: On re-examining the photo of the ground, there is a possibility that the plant has not grown out of it pot shape. That could cause water to flow around the root ball as opposed to into it. Here’s an overall fact sheet on growing hydrangeas.

Don’t Edit


Looking for tree recommendation

Q: Please recommend a tree suitable for the Willamette Valley (near Eugene) with the following characteristics: deciduous, mature height 30 to 40 feet, mature spread 20 to 30 feet, brilliant red color in the fall, minimal care needed, sun tolerant.
– Lane County

Don’t Edit Don’t Edit

Japanese maple

A: Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) has orange-red fall foliage. Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) has red fall color and also has red berries. Many Japanese maples would fit your criteria, but be sure their fall foliage is red and not yellow. ‘Red Sunset’ and ‘October Glory’ maples can get higher than 40 feet, but their slow growth will give you years in the right size frame. Our native vine maple (Acer circinatum) fits all the criteria except that it prefers some shade and thus may sunburn.
Right now is a great time to tour our local tree nurseries. The only real guarantee of fall color in some species is to buy them in color.
– Pat Patterson, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Don’t Edit

How to reduce laurel tree berries

Q: This year, our two old laurel trees produced a large number of berries. What is the most effective way of reducing the number of berries?
– Multnomah County

Don’t Edit

A: You can reduce the number of berries by pruning off the flowers. You can do this by by shaping the plant (shearing) prior to bloom, which is often done to prune the plants into a formal hedge. This will usually cut off most, or all of the flower buds, depending on how deeply into the canopy you cut, because flower buds will be concentrated near the tips of the previous season shoots. Or if you prefer to enjoy the blooms, which do smell nice, prune the plant as the blooms fade. That will eliminate the berries as well.
– Neil Bell, OSU Extension horticulturist

Don’t Edit

Support system for grapevines

Q: How much can one full-grown grapevine weigh (trunk, ripe grapes, leaves)? I’m trying to gauge the demands a grapevine puts on a trellis.

– Multnomah County

Don’t Edit

A: I have been unable to find any authoritative information about the weight of a grapevine (although a lot about the weight of grapes!), probably because the weight will be greater once foliage and fruit have appeared. Then, in the fall after harvest and foliage drop, it will be lighter again, except for the unpruned vines that have grown over the summer. However, here is an Extension article detailing the varieties of support systems, some peculiar to varieties of grapes, with recommendations about materials and arrangements that might prove helpful.
– Kris LaMar, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Don’t Edit Don’t Edit

Is a strawberry tree a good fit for Salem?

Q: My daughter lives close to downtown Salem and we would like to plant a strawberry tree (dwarf Arbutus unido). Can you verify the growing zone there? There are a couple of Arbutus outside the Salem library that seem to have weathered well, but is it common for them to freeze in Salem winters? Do you know of any nurseries that carry good dwarf varieties of arbutus?
– Marion County

Don’t Edit

A: Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is fully hardy in the Willamette Valley. Salem is USDA Zone 8, and I’ve never seen one suffer winter injury. There’s a really nice example, one of the best I’ve seen, on the south side of Bush House in Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem.
The compact forms of the species are definitely worth seeking out as the species itself can grow to be 12 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide. It’s huge. The compact forms include ‘Elfin King,’ ‘Compacta’ and ‘Oktoberfest’. I do not keep track of what nurseries sell specific plants, so I would recommend just calling and see what you can find. ‘Compacta’ will likely be most common. For more information, check out the discussion of the plant in the OSU Landscape Plant website.
– Neil Bell, OSU Extension horticulturist

Don’t Edit

More advice from the experts

  • How to identify apples
  • Growing award-winning sunflowers
  • How to address common compost problems
  • What’s the hardiest sod for Oregon lawns?
  • How to grow onions and artichokes

Don’t Edit

Tiny Black Bugs in the Kitchen

December 3, 20180 found this helpful

I am guessing that they are drain flies. They are mostly around bathrooms and kitchens. Look up drain flies to find several remedies. They fly very short distances before having to land somewhere. To identify the problem area is detective work. Mine seem to have come from an area that was open around incoming water line to toliet. There was an entrance from beneath the house which is always a bit humid. I was able to find problem area by placing duct tape over open drains in sinks and tubs at night, around intake and out water lines openings around pipes and floors underneath sinks and dishwashers. Anywhere you see any size opening coming in from beneath the house especially if wood and moisture is involved. These are areas where they breed. Sticky side down so if some comes up it would stick to tape. Once area of entrance is found then treat appropriately as recommended on sites googled “how to get rid of drain flies”. Short term fix for me while trying to find out what they were and how to get rid of them was 2 things. 1 was black flag sticky fly stick in box that sits on counter, ledge or any pot out of kids and pets way but in area where they are most concentrated. Remember they flutter,fly, short distances at a time before landing. But there is something in the stick that attracts them and no they are not fruit flies that I thought they were and was accustomed to around fruits and veggies in the kitchen. Any if you do have fruit flies around fresh fruit ,they probably hitched a ride from the grocery store when they all of a sudden appear from nowhere around fresh product. This short term treatment will work for them also. If you do not like the look or idea of the sticky fly stick, the other short term treatment that works for both but need to be closer to area being concentrated on(sink or counter for fruit or in both if heavy and not sure).There are specific measurements of different ingredients on internet sites. The most seen and I quote from too many sites to give credit to is… in a small container or lid big enough to hold mix equal parts sugar or corn syrup, white or cider vinegar, water and 5 to 10 drops dishwashing liquid. They are drawn to mixture, crawl in and drown. Some suggest covering bowl with plastic wrap and cutting small holes in it. I had better success with fly stick and uncoveed solution which I changed out every 4 to 5 days unless there were a lot floating around. The solution seemed to attract more on the 2nd and 3rd days. Drain flies are large and more fuzzy looking than fruit flies. Fruit flies live longer and multiply quickly. Drain flies don’t live as long but each lays hundreds of eggs that hatch into tiny worms(not the scientific version but I am sure you get the images). Ok back on track. Above were now and short term treatments. If you have drain flies, you will have to have a long term clean them out plan. Clean your drains cheaply but with work and persistence with treatment recipes on line using baking soda vinegar and boiling water down each open drain and close when not in use if you have done the duct tape test and determined the culprit. I went to battle and treated t hy sm all, plugged all the openings around pipes with a foam spray you can buy. There are expensive drain cleanser on line my daughter used with great success. But if you dont want to use chemicals or have more time than money like me, use what you have or buy what you can use for other purposes. For a most permanent solution, I did not like the idea that I may probably have a breeding nest under my house. People without crawl spaces and wooden foundations, you are at the end finally! For people with crawl spaces , check or have checked the area under your house to ensure flooring is not moist or rotting. If so this presents an opportunity for drain flies to breed. Clean out any loose debris or replace flooring that is bad. Put down clear thick plastic on ground under house and pin down so rain water, animals and ect cant move it out of place. Orkin provides an inspection free and will put down barrier for a charge if you are unable or doesn’t know of some one who isn’t afraid to go under houses. All materials can be purchased at hardware stores….or for my upcoming YouTube channel on “Mama Knows a Lot Now.”
Finally the last. Thank you!

Reply Was this helpful?

Species category: Beetles & Weevils
Scientific name: Attagenus unicolor

Small and oval shaped, the Black Carpet Beetle is a black colour with brown legs and short antennae. The adult will reach 3-5mm in length. The larvae, which are the true pests of this species, are typically longer in body length and are a reddish-brown colour.

Black Carpet Beetles are found throughout Australia.
Carpet beetles are as common in food pantries as they are in a carpet or wardrobe. However, as the name suggests, Carpet Beetles are often prevalent in the carpet’s pile but this is not their only habitat. Evidence of an infestation is not just the insects themselves but also the larvae which continuously moult before adulthood, leaving behind tell-tale shells and lots of destruction.
These flying insects are mainly considered a pest because of their destructive larvae that feast on a wide variety of keratin based animal products including wool, silk, hides and furs. The larvae have also been known to feed on synthetic products too, in addition to household foods and dead insects.
There are a number of moulting stages between larvae and reaching full adulthood. The larvae enjoy a warm, dark environment while the beetle is drawn to the light.
This insect damages animal based materials in homes e.g. wool, silk, fur etc… They eat large irregular shaped holes in a wide variety of fabrics. The larvae also leave behind shells as they moult, which are a known cause of allergies in some humans.
They are often spotted in the home as they crawl across the surface of fabrics and tend to feed at the top of the carpet rather than down in the base fibres.
Commonly found feeding on dried foods also, they contaminate it with faeces and discarded shells.

Pests & Diseases

Large Narcissus Fly(Merodon equestris)

Large narcissus fly

Once this was considered a serious pest only in the South-West of the British mainland. However, in recent years as a result of “global warming” and/or the influence of large plantings of daffodils by public authorities, it has now become a common problem even in the North of Scotland. The fly, which resembles a small bumble bee, is easily recognised by the high pitched whine it emits in flight and it is only active when the temperatures are in excess of 20C(68F) on windless days. Eggs are laid on the daffodil foliage near to ground level and hatch in seven days. At this point the larvae crawls down and enters the bulb by chewing through the base plate, where it remains, increasing in size by eating the centre of the bulb. It emerges from the bulb in March to pupate in the ground, and the adult flies emerges in April and May. Evidence of the presence of the fly are:-

  • In newly dug-up bulbs, the presence of a small hole in the base plate which is not easy to see. The bulb will still be firm as the larva is still quite small.
  • In bulbs at planting time, a soft bulb which when cut open, will display a large grub in the centre of the now hollow bulb surrounded by a mass of frass (fly excreta).
  • In the open ground, the non-emergence of bulbs in the following season, or a mass of “grass” like growth from the base plate which is not always completely destroyed by the grub. This “grass” like growth, will, if left a few years, develop into flowering bulbs again with normal lifting and replanting cultivation.

There is now no chemical preventative or curative for this pest available to the amateur grower. HWT (Hot Water Treatment) will kill the grubs within the bulb but the damage has already been done. However, it may still be possible to save the bulb should it be a favourite or newly acquired expensive cultivar by cultivation as above. Should this pest be a particular problem in your local area then consideration should be given to covering the beds with either fleece or enviromesh to prevent the fly reaching the foliage to lay its eggs. It must be remembered that this will not be effective against flies that emerge from the ground when the cover is in place. It is also worth noting that this fly also use snowdrops as a host plant and this may be the reason for localised troublesome populations.
See here for further information

Small Narcissus Fly(Eumerus spp)

Small narcissus fly

This is a much smaller fly which can produce two or three generations per year. It is said to only attack already damaged bulbs but this has been questioned recently. Damage to bulbs in the ground is usually restricted to a few bulbs but a much greater threat to bulbs in storage where significant damage can occur. Several small maggots are found in the bulb than the single one in the case of the large fly. Control is as for the large narcissus fly.

Bulb Scale Mite (Stenotasonemus laticeps)

This has become a serious problem with the culture of many house plants or orchids. It is a light coloured mite which is only just visible to the naked eye and is likely to found only on daffodils in storage above 17C (62F), where it attacks the top third of the bulb. It is killed by HWT and may controlled by an insecticide approved for that purpose.

Bulb Mites (Rhizoglyphus and Histiostoma spp)

A much larger Mite than the above which has two dark spots and usually only attacks bulbs in storage which are already damaged by fungal infection. Control is achieved by good hygiene.

Slugs and Snails

An increasing problem for daffodil growers where although causing normally minor damage to the foliage they may also be a vector in the spread of virus disease from already infected plants. They can create serious damage, usually overnight, to the flowers. Control is by an appropriate molluscicide, both pellet and liquid forms, or by hand at regular inspections. A more recent and organic method is the use of a nematode which specifically targets slugs. Early indications on effectiveness are promising in the reduction of keel slugs, which attack the bulb under ground.

Swift Moths(Hepialus spp)

A relatively minor problem with daffodils caused by the caterpillars making holes in the outer scales of the bulbs. Control is by the removal of weeds and grass on which the moth lays its eggs.

Stem Nematodes (Eelworm-Dityenchus dipsaci)

“Spickels” on daffodil leaf

The most devastating pest of daffodils and most feared by growers. It is not visible to the naked eye and the first symptoms are “spickels”, small yellow raised and lumpy lesions on the edges of leaves or stems. It will usually be accompanied by large areas of the beds with weak growth, stunted plants, or even where no growth is seen. Bulbs cut across will show brown rings where the individual scales have been attacked by the nematodes, Infected plants should be destroyed and care taken not to transfer the infection on boots or clothing. There is no approved chemical treatment of eelworm in the ground and infected areas should not be reused for the growing of daffodils. HWT will kill the nematodes but this requires a high temperature, very careful temperature control and the use of approved chemicals within the solution.
See here for further information

Fungal Diseases

Basal Rot (caused by Fusarium oxysporum F.sp. narcissi)

Basal Rot

This is the most serious daffodil bulb disease which although it was described a hundred years ago as a serious threat, is growing in intensity as a result of hotter summers. The initial symptoms is the premature dying back of the foliage which when investigated, or at lifting time, reveals a soft or mummified bulb containing a chocolate brown rot spreading upwards from the base plate. At this point recovery of the bulb usually becomes impossible. The bulbs can become infected in storage or after planting and spores become widespread and are viable for over ten years in the soil. Control is very difficult even commercially. Resistant cultivars such as St Kevern are grown, but even these are not immune. The avoidance of fresh manure or excessive nitrogen is essential and the early lifting of the bulbs is preferred. These should immediately be sprayed with a suitable fungicide and dried rapidly in a good air-flow by using electric fans. Storage should then be at a low temperature of 17-18C (62-64F) with planting in late September or early October when soil temperatures are lower. Bulbs in storage should be inspected regularly and soft ones destroyed.
See here for further information

Neck Rot

Less common than basal rot but also a growing problem. As its name implies the disease spreads from the neck of the bulb towards the main body. There is more than one cause. Fusarium,(see basal rot), enicillium, and botrytis (see smoulder) are all implicated but usually separately. Control is as for basal rot and possibly any fungicide approved for this condition.

Smoulder (caused by botrytis narcissiola)

Narcissus Smoulder

This is less serious than the rots as above, but results in a lower bulb yield and unshowable flowers until the disease is eradicated. The symptoms are the appearance of a mass of grey spores as the leaves emerge from the bulb, causing the leaves to stick together. It is most likely to occur in cold, wet weather. The flowers are often spotted and the leaves can be polled away from the bulb revealing a grey mould at the base. It can also occur later in the season in cold conditions when it is less easy to spot. The primary infection usually occurs in the previous year so control is by HWT and foliar spray with an appropriate fungicide while the bulbs are in growth. Dead foliage should be removed from the beds that are left down for a second year.

Leaf Scorch (caused by Stagonospora )

Narcissus Leaf Scorch

Another problem that was originally confined to the South West of the country, but which is now more widely spread. The symptoms are leaf tips that become reddish brown with a yellow border. The flowers may become spotted and there is usually premature die back. Control is by application of an appropriate foliar fungicide spray and HWT.

Viral Diseases

There are a large number of viral diseases that affects daffodils, the most common of which is yellow stripe virus. As its name suggests it is identified by yellow stripes on the green foliage which is more apparent as the foliage emerges and which often disappears as the season progresses. Other common viruses are cucumber mosaic virus, white streak virus and tobacco rattle virus. In some cases the flowers is also affected with “breaking” or light patches on the petals or dark streaks. In most cases even though the flowers are not affected there will be a loss of vigour and reduced yield in the plants involved. There are several vectors that transmit the various viral diseases including aphids above ground and nematodes and millipedes below ground. The spread of the disease may be slow or rapid throughout the collection but the only solution is to rigorously remove any obviously infected plants. It should be assumed that any very old cultivars are likely to be infected by viral diseases of this type and therefore it is probably wise to not grow them together with a modern collection. Some growers try to convince themselves the symptoms which they see are not viral but as a result of the plant being stressed. However, it is when the plant is stressed that the virus will normally be able to be most easily seen and it is safer to assume the worst rather than risk infecting the whole of one’s collection. Control is by destroying any infected bulbs and by controlling the agents that cause the spread of the disease by spraying regularly throughout the growing season to kill aphids and HWT for the control of nematodes.

What is eating my daffodils?

Thank you for including an image of the damaged daffodil flower. It appears you have a very hungry pest nearby. Although most folks tend to blame slugs at this time of year, I wonder if this damage is from a caterpillar that feeds during the winter but typically only at night during warm spells. Their name is greater yellow underwing; the technical name is Noctua pronuba. (I suspect caterpillars because the large scallop-shape bites appear to be composed of numerous smaller scallops.) If so, you’re likely to find them resting underneath the soil surface during the daylight hours, perhaps up to a half-inch deep. You could also go out at 10 or 11 p.m. with a flashlight to inspect your flowers. If you catch any feeding on your prized plants, dispatch them on the spot by flicking into soapy water. Here’s a nice descriptive page which includes mages of the adults and their caterpillars: Large Yellow Underwing, A New Cutworm in Idaho

You may also be wondering about the small brown spots on the daffodil’s trumpet. They don’t appear to be insect damage. It may be environmental damage of some kind; perhaps someone has used a leaf blower nearby?


These beetles are on our windowsills, wooden blinds, skirting boards, wooden floors and I’d like to know if they are harmful and also how to get rid. You can easily find 3 or 4 in every room and I suspect if you search hard you’d find 10 or 20 – or more!! I have been hoovering them up but this does not seem to affect their numbers. I have only ever seen them inside the house and not outside. Our house is in Ireland and is a new build and central-heated but nevertheless quite damp. I first noticed the beetles about a year ago on windowsills but now they are in all sorts of places. Aaargh. I have looked for small holes in the wood and I cannot find any. I do not hear a ticking noise at night.

They are 1mm in length max, black with no visible markings. Smaller ones are a grey colour. They have a small head with two long wispy feelers. Their body is the shape of a sesame seed and is quite humped in shape – in this respect they remind me a little of ladybirds, with their humped back and small head. The body is shiny. They have 6 legs that are joined to the body from just behind the head – the front two pairs are shorter than the back pair. They can move quite fast when threatened with the hoover. When squished, they leave a black smudge.

I have also seen one on the wall of a friends house. She did not know what they were either. Really hope someone can identify these little monsters, I have trawled the web for months without finding any that seem to match their appearance. I attach a photo, not very clear I’m afraid – they are tiny and my camera is not up to much. Thanks!

Hot weather attracts swarms of tiny black beetles

PUBLISHED: 16:50 24 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 28 June 2018

Emma Brennan

Hundreds of tiny balck beetles – attracted to yellow – have been spotted at locations across Suffolk and Essex Picture: ARCHANT


Swarms of tiny black beetles have been appearing in gardens across Suffolk and Essex, seemingly attracted by the hot weather.

The bright green wig worn by one Race For Life fundraiser proved highly attractive to the beetles Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

The insects, believed to be pollen beetles, have been recorded in locations such as Ipswich, Colchester, Sudbury and Trimley.

And they seem to be particularly attracted to anything yellow or white – including washing drying on outdoor lines.

But while they are a source of annoyance to some, including participants in the Ipswich Race For Life for Cancer Research UK, at Trinity Park, some people have seen their arrival as a bonus.

Wildlife volunteer George Millins, who was working at SESAW animal shelter in Leavenheath, said his colleague’s white shirt was “covered” with beetles.

He said it was likely to be the warm weather attracting them, but welcomed their presence.

He added: “You rarely see the small thunder flies these days that used to be everywhere so it’s heartening to see that insects in such large numbers still exist.

“People who love birds in their gardens should welcome the beetles because they are a valuable food source for garden birds.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, none of the 36 species of pollen beetle in Britain cause damage to garden plants – in fact they can help with pollination.

They all develop in the flower buds of wild flowers or agricultural crops, and yellow flowers seem to be particularly attractive to them.

What are the tiny black bugs in my laundry room?

Question: We have a bug that is only in our laundry room. It is very tiny and black. They multiply quickly and hang out on the dirty laundry. We also found some in our dog’s biscuits. They turned them to powder. Could you let me know what they might be and what kind of problems they can cause?

ANSWER: Most likely you have one of the many carpet beetle species that can appear inside the various room of houses.

The furniture/carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes) is the most common of these bugs. This is a small beetle (usually just larger than a pin head) that is mostly oval in shape with a mixture of black and gray patches. It moves very slowly and rolls over when touched.

The adults can be observed moving slowly on walls. They are active in summer and relatively inactive in the winter.

A closely related and similar looking species is Anthrenus verbasci. It is a little larger than the furniture beetle, but occurs in the same places and is active in the spring and summer.

Carpet beetles can feed on such a wide variety of items:

  • wool
  • leather and other animal products
  • noodles
  • flour
  • meal and other stored food and plant products.

Their feeding habits make them tough to control. They can be everywhere in a house, and control in one location may not eliminate them from another.

Vacuum your laundry room. Then do a thorough cleaning, looking for any material that could be infested. Throw away what you can. Dry clean and store what is appropriate and hope that you got the bulk of it. These beetles can infest many materials in a house, and you may never have them all eliminated.

The best advice is to clean up as much as possible and then vacuum as much as possible.

For additional treatment options, contact your local Orkin Branch Office.

Related Questions:

The Orkin Man used the information above to answer similar questions submitted by users:

Question: I live in Denver Colo., and noticed over the last year or so many little bugs on the walls and lino floor in several rooms of my house, bathroom, dining room. Size is 1/8″ or smaller, move very slowly, very flat, dark gray/black color. When squished they leave a brown mark. Many of them so I’m not sure where they came from, I have 4 plants but no pets or children. Curious what the bug is. Question: I have a very small beetle like bug that started in my bedroom but is now everywhere. It is black with white spots and is about a third of the size of an apple seed … maybe even 1/4. I live within 30 miles of Seattle. Question: I appreciate your company always answering my “bug” questions.

I hope I never need pest control, but if I do, I am going with your company!

My latest question involves a very small black bug—approx. 1/16 inch. It is oval shaped and seems to like windowsills and the baseboards. It moves so slowly you don’t even realize it is a bug sometimes. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice it. I usually just suck them up with a vacuum. I probably find one or two a day (maybe more now than before). They don’t seem to bite, don’t seem to like food and wander around in the daytime aimlessly. Sometimes I see one crawling on wall. I have never seen more than one at a time except in a corner of a room when I vacuum. What are they?

Tags: Beetles

Our Pest Library

Find out more about your suspects

Our Pest Library is full of up-to-date information on termites, ants, and cockroaches as well as more than 25 common household pests. Find out more information about their behavior, habits, and other cool facts.

Ask Your Question

Still didn’t find an answer to your question? Fill out the form below and we’ll get right back to you with an answer. For service and billing questions please message us here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *