Beetles are everywhere. Worldwide there are more than 300,000 species of beetles, but that doesn’t mean you want them around. In nature, some types are beneficial and others are destructive. This is especially true for trees, which are often damaged by species of bark beetles. In houses, species of beetles can get into furniture, upholstery, structural timber and stored foods.

Getting rid of beetles in some cases may be as simple as properly storing food, but how to get rid of beetles in your yard is often more complicated.

How to get rid of beetles in houses

Beetles found inside homes can be a variety of different species. They range from those infesting stored goods, such as the cigarette beetle or drugstore beetle, to types of wood boring beetles that can leave you with structural damage.

Removal of beetles from stored goods is often more about prevention than outright treatment. The Pennsylvania State University Extension factsheet on cigarette beetles has helpful instructions that apply to other types of food-infesting beetles as well.

“Prevention and exclusion are the principal methods of controlling cigarette beetles in the home. Focus on identifying and destroying infested materials. … Exclusion is an important way of limiting the exposure of other commodities to infestation. Place pantry items in airtight hard plastic containers, including unopened items such as cake mixes, which can be infested without exhibiting outward signs of infestation.”

For wood boring or wood-infesting beetles, other methods will need to be utilized. The larvae of these types of beetles bore into wood surfaces in order to create a space to change into adults. Wood boring beetles fall into four main types: lyctid powderpost, anobiid powderpost, bostrichid powderpost and old house borers. According to a Clemson University factsheet, published by the Department of Entomology, Soils and Plant Sciences, there are several options for controlling these pests. Knowing which type of beetle has entered your home is important when determining how to kill beetles that are causing a problem.

“Many homes have some damage from wood boring beetles. However, in many cases the damage is very minor and old, which means that all the beetles have died. Unless you see beetles or fresh wood powder around the holes, chemical treatment is not necessary. Fresh wood powder is usually light in color and does not clump. Old wood powder is often yellowed and clumps together. For active wood boring beetle infestations, several spot treatments are possible. These include controlling wood moisture, using surface covers, mechanical removal, freezing, and insecticide treatments. Most insecticides for wood boring beetles are restricted and can be used only by certified pest control operators. You may be able to find some insecticides at hardware or discount stores labeled for wood boring beetles around the home, but very few products are available to the public any longer.”

How to kill beetles in your yard

Sometimes a beetle problem affects your landscaping, instead of your home. There are multiple species of bark beetles that are a cause for concern in the United States. These types of beetles lay their eggs on the bark layer of trees. The larvae hatch and bore into the tree, which disrupts the tree life cycle and ultimately kills it. Some of the most common control methods include pruning and removing infested trees, treatment of nearby trees and soil with insecticides to prevent the spread of an infestation and reducing tree stress. A factsheet released by the University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program outlines those options.

“If trees or shrubs are infested, prune and dispose of bark beetle-infested limbs. If the main trunk is extensively attacked by bark beetles, the entire tree or shrub should be removed. Unless infested trees are cut and infested materials are quickly removed, burned, or chipped on site, large numbers of beetles can emerge and kill nearby host trees, especially if live, not yet attacked trees nearby are weakened or stressed by other factors. Never pile infested material adjacent to a live tree or shrub.”

If you suspect you have a serious wood boring or bark beetle problem, it might be time to call a pest management professional. Most insecticides approved for treatment are not available to homeowners. Getting rid of beetles is part of a pest management professional’s job description, and they are trained to know the best way to accomplish that goal.