SAWTOOTH BEETLE CLOSEUPSawtooth Grain Beetles are a small brown to black beetle measuring 1/4 to 3/8th inches long when fully grown. They are among the most common of pantry and cabinet infesting beetles and are easily mistaken for RED FLOUR BEETLES or CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLES. However, upon closer inspection, most anyone can see the red and confused flour beetles are similar and the sawtooth is quite different.

The pronounced difference is the “saw like” teeth on either side of it’s thorax. With any amount of magnification one can see the teeth; a trained eye can see them by looking carefully at them in their hand.




Sawtooth beetles have been around as long as other flour beetles. Their history dates back several thousand years. This is due to the fact most ancient civilizations used flour as a primary food ingredient.

SAWTOOTH BEETLESawtooth beetles thrive on flour dust though they will readily feed on just about anything found in the home intended for people or pets. Sawtooth beetles are cosmopolitan and can thrive in any part of the United States.


Once in the home, sawtooth beetles will readily feed on pet food, cereal, pasta, spices, rodenticide, dried fruit and vegetables, eggs of other insects, nuts, grass seed and just about anything which can provide nutrition.

Unlike other pantry pests, sawtooth beetles can find food which is well hidden and protected. Their strong chewing mouth parts will allow them access to food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. All they need is the scent of something worthwhile and they’ll make every attempt to find their way inside.


Sawtooth Grain Beetles live a long time. They have an average life span over 3 years which is quite long for an insect so small. Adult females will lay a few eggs daily which will amount to over 300 during her life. Eggs will hatch in a couple of weeks and start to feed immediately.

The feeding larva will go through 2-4 molts which will occur over a 3-5 week period. After they get their fill, the larvae will spin cocoon’s where they’ll disappear for awhile. During the pupa stage, they’ll morph and eventually emerge as adults when the cycle is complete.

All this will occur in less than 2 months which makes this species of Grain Beetle one of the fastest developing species we have as a nuisance pest in the home. And since they will readily eat anything, they will always find something good to eat.



Whether they’re brought home in cereal, pet food or pasta, Sawtooth Beetles are a nuisance once in the home. Like most pantry pests, there are a few things which must be done to break their cycle once established. Here is an outline of what to do.

First, empty all your kitchen cabinets, shelves and closets where they’ve been seen or thought to exist. Food stuff which has them active must be discarded in sealed plastic bags. This will help contain them until the garbage is picked up.

If you are not sure if something is infested, store it in a plastic bag and check the bags every few days. If you find Sawtooth Beetles active, it will mean the item is infested and should be thrown away immediately.

Since this pest is temperature tolerant, don’t waste your time trying to “freeze” kill adults, eggs or larva. No doubt you’ll get the active stages. But many will survive fine and these will be able to continue the cycle.

Once food stuff which is thought to have activity is discarded, you’ll be ready to prepare for a treatment. But before you treat, vacuum all closets, shelves and baseboards. This will help remove eggs which are usually too small to see. Sawtooth Beetles lay eggs with a glue like excretion which helps to attach them to surfaces where food is typically available.


Once everything has been removed from your cabinets and they’ve been vacuumed, proceed with a treatment. There are two good options for pantries and kitchen cabinets. The first option is FS MP AEROSOL. This fast acting, low odor aerosol is ideal for cracks, crevices and voids. It comes with a small straw so you can direct the spray exactly where its needed.

FS MP is fast acting and best for when you know where the problem is located. A single can will treat 2-3 rooms well.





The second option is PT-PHANTOM.  This product is low odor too but overall, very different compared to FS MP. Phantom is what we call a “non repellent”. This means insects won’t be able to tell where its been applied. It’s slow acting too. If you spray a beetle directly, it won’t die. But this is by design. Basically Phantom will take 2-3 days to kill an insect. But during this delay, the contaminated beetle can spread the Phantom to others by transference. This means the Phantom will effectively kill many more than just the one or two which might walk over it. This feature makes Phantom a great option when the nest sight is not known.

PT-Phantom Aerosol




Regardless of which aerosol you choose, be sure to let the treatment dry 1 hour before returning dishes and food stuff back into the cabinets.



For extensive problems that stretch into all areas of the home, you’ll be better served using a liquid. Laundry rooms, garages, basements and other areas where pet food and grain products like grass seed are stored. These areas will be prime locations for Sawtooth Beetles to hide and nest so if you have a lot of home to cover or a warehouse or food processing plant, go with a liquid spray. It will be easier to use, more cost effective and longer lasting.

And one of the best concentrates for this beetle is DEFENSE SC. Its odorless, easily mixed with water and 1 gallon will cover up to 1,000 sq/ft. Defense can be applied to carpets and furniture too so its able to cover any problem areas.Both are concentrates so you’ll be mixing up what you need and be able to treat larger areas more cost efficiently and overall, more effective.

Add .38 to .75 oz of Defense per gallon of water and distribute this over 1,000 sq/ft of area (baseboards, carpeting, etc.).

D-Fense SC Insecticide




Since sawtooth beetles will hide in tough to reach areas, add GENTROL IGR to  your tank mix for added protection. Gentrol is a juvenile growth hormone regulator and will effectively stop developing larvae from reaching adulthood. This will be a big help if you want to solve the problem that much faster. The main reason for this added help is that Gentrol will naturally translocate. This enables it to impact beetles in areas you don’t directly spray. Unlike the Defense which stays where its applied, Gentrol is naturally volatile which enables it to move around. This movement is subtle and poses no hazard to people or animals. In fact Gentrol is nothing but a protein so it can’t impact mammals in any “bad” way. But once it moves onto walls, ceilings and surrounding surfaces, it will impact any bit of the problem you missed with the direct spray. Basically it expands the effective coverage of your treatment.

For sawtooth beetles, add 1 oz of Gentrol to the same gallon of water with the Defense and use the same exact way for up to 1,000 sq/ft of area.





You will need a good PUMP SPRAYER when applying the mixed spray and this sprayer will need to deliver the material onto baseboards, some carpeting, under furniture, in cabinets, under sinks, etc. and basically anywhere the beetles have been seen.

Pump Sprayer






Once everything is treated and allowed to dry, install SAWTOOTH BEETLE CABINET TRAPS. These traps use strong pheromones and sexual attractants to lure foraging adults. They’re easy to set out and one trap per cabinet will suffice. The light brown liquid seen in the picture will be squeezed out into the triangular tray and placed discreetly in the corner. Traps will last 60-90 days but should be replaced if they fill up sooner.

Pantry Pest Trap 3 PK





Sawtooth beetles will fly or crawl into the holding tray and get caught on the thick oil.

Now for open areas, the XLURE BEETLE TRAP is better suited. This trap is quite durable. Its made with a hard plastic body and the inside chamber houses the special catching gel, food bait and sexual pheromones. Set one trap every 15-20 feet; placements can be made under furniture and in other hidden areas as well as out in the open. Don’t let the dog eat it; the components won’t hurt any pet but the plastic isn’t good for them to eat. Change the trap every 90 days if the activity is still active this long.

XLure Beetle Trap





Sawtooth Grain Beetles can be a persistent pest once n the home. To break their life cycle, you’ll need to remove contaminated food and treat with the products listed above.

Lastly, set out traps in any cabinet, pantry or where activity has been noted. Keep the traps fresh so they will monitor the areas to insure the problem has been resolved.


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Comments on SAWTOOTH BEETLE CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 17, 2012

Lois @ 11:16 am #


This is really scary! So far, in checking all my cabinets, I have only found them in birdseed.
Should I use the traps all over my home? Where can Permethrin be purchased?

March 29, 2012

Adrian @ 8:16 pm #


Hi. I’ve got quite a lot of these beetles in my room (about 80 last night). We have checked the whole room and can’t find any source or nest. What can I do to eliminate them? They are mainly found on my wife’s dresser and sofa plus the corners of my room. Thank you.

April 9, 2012

Adrian @ 8:38 am #


Hi, I have tried vacuuming and sweeping my room. The pest company we used has gassed our home. The total number of beetles have dropped but now I’ve noticed they are up on my ceiling and climbing up the wall at my stairway. Any advice? Thank you.

December 2, 2012

Debbie @ 7:35 pm #


We’ve found these bugs in our food cabinet about 4-5 months ago. We threw out all our spices, food, and even kitchen appliances that had crevices such as a hand mixer. We tried bombing and don’t keep food any where but in our refrigerator. Unfortunately the bugs still exist. We are going to completely empty the rest of our cabinets where we found them that have pots, pans, etc. and use your chemical process. When we wash our pots and pans will the bugs/larva die? Also if there’s larva on our dish towels, would it have died once ran through the washing machine/dryer? Also we have cats so would you recommend the TOPIA AEROSOL or will the DFORCE AEROSOL be safe once dried?

December 3, 2012
December 13, 2012

Leah @ 12:08 pm #


Hi, I think I have these little brown things in my couch and around my living room. I started noticing them about a month ago… just 1 or 2 here and there… and I have seen them in my couch.. I admit I may have crumbs in there and under there, I have a 2 year old who is a little slob lol. But I also find them randomly on the rugs here and there… and I seen 1 in my kitchen randomly yesterday. I checked some of my food and cereals in the pantry and there aren’t any in anything… and my cabinets are not for food, only dishes and what not. Could they have been brought on by my son and his crumb habits on the couch? Or would they have to have come in from something at the store? I never noticed them until it got cold out here in MA.

Leah @ 3:45 pm #


@Tech Support:
Thank you for your fast reply! Are all those things safe for cats and children?

December 14, 2012
August 23, 2013

GeeGee @ 6:16 pm #


Would you say this is a sawtooth grain beetle? I keep finding them in my couch. Eeeekk! They are tiny and fast. This is the best pic I could take.

August 24, 2013
November 17, 2014

Barb @ 3:00 am #


Hi there. I just purchased and received Phantom and the beetle traps. My questions are:

1. we washed all canned goods with bleach water mixture. i assume those can stay. what about pasta in bags that have not been opened?
2. I have literally about 100 spices. I don’t see infestation in my spice drawers but… I did put all of my spices into freezer bags and am now waiting to see if any bugs come out. Do I have to get rid of all of my spices just in case?
3. When we vacuumed, I have to wonder.. won’t the eggs we sweep up catch inside different parts of the vacuum and hatch there, infesting other places in the home, even though we dump the contents of the vacuum bag?
4. do i have to throw away the plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc.?
5. if we see bugs come out in a few days after treatment, should we spray again or wait the whole 2 weeks?

November 29, 2014

Arnold @ 8:39 pm #


I currently have a minor infestation of Sawtooths and am planning on following all of your guidelines to the letter in fighting these beetles. My question is, what’s the best of your products to routinely apply AFTER breaking the life cycle?

I write this because I read that Sawtooth eggs and/or adults can hitch rides from the grocer again and again so, in theory, a home will always need continual treatment. Just the same as how you treat every so often for other pests. It just seems as if I can always expect to see a certain amount of beetles if they could potentially be re-introduced into the home.

Thanks for the help.

November 30, 2014
November 28, 2015

Arnold @ 5:06 pm #

This is a cautionary tale to others to make sure Sawtooth beetles are dealt with thoroughly and not in only half-measures. Almost a year to the day later and my “minor” infestation of these persistent Sawtoothers has morphed into something else entirely. If anyone has a Sawtooth problem, please, please follow to the letter the advice given by U-spray, for they truly are hard to get rid of. I only treated about 2/3 of my house, and now I likely have an even bigger problem than before. I figured they’d stay limited to mostly the kitchen/dining area, but not so.

Last night I actually found a Sawtooth on a pillow on the couch! Obviously, this tells me they are everywhere. Most likely they’ve even migrated to bedrooms. Gross. Even though I treated and trapped (and additionally cleaned out cabinets and sealed all pet foods, chips, etc. in Tupperware) these little buggers are still plaguing me. I hadn’t seen any in a long time, but now they’re back with a vengeance. So now, lesson learned, I will be treating the whole house. I’ve read Sawtooths can sustain themselves on merely a tiny crumb of food. Given that I have pets, I’m sure there’s little “morsels” of food all over the house that makes for a veritable Sawtooth breeding ground.

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