We get many calls about small, oval black to brown beetles that are being found in the yard foraging about on animal waste. These beetles are related to the egyptian scarab beetle but generally are much smaller. Usually 3/8th to 1/2 inch in length, darkling beetles can be metallic blue green in color, bronze, brown, tan or black.
Darkling beetles are found throughout the United States and are strong flyers. They’re attracted to animal waste and will readily feed upon the droppings left by dog, rabbit, deer, raccoon, cat, cow, horse, chicken and pretty much any type of mammal.
DARKLING BEETLE BIOLOGY ^
Darkling beetles (also known as litter bugs, dung beetles, tumble bugs, pooh beetles and fece fighters) generally go unnoticed in the yard. Attracted by the scent of animal waste, adult darkling beetles will lay eggs in fecal matter from which larvae will hatch and begin feeding. This activity will happen down under the top of the feces so it’s easy to miss.
Larva are small grub like caterpillars that will develop through several instars before becoming adults. At that time they’ll leave the fecal pile and fly off looking for a mate and some fresh “food”.
DARKLING BEETLE INFESTATION ^
Darkling beetles are usually not a problem and in fact, many times they’re desirable. Farmers commonly depend on them to recycle waste piles which in turn can help eliminate foul odors and other problems associated with fecal matter. By eating feces, darkling beetles effectively take food away from filth flies which are a big problem. For this reason darkling beetles will many times be tolerated around the farm or other environment where a lot of animals are active.
But if you’re trying to utilize manure or recycle some type of animal feces for fertilizer, the darkling beetle will become an enemy. And even on the farm, they’re numbers can reach unmanageable levels. Basically they’ll eat everything you’re trying to mulch so their existence becomes counter productive. And what they consume is very important nutrient wise so in fact, if you leave them to populate and eat what you place out, you’ll no doubt loose most of the benefit the manure was supposed to provide. For this reason darkling beetles can be a problem when their numbers become significant.
DARKLING BEETLE INVASIONS ^
If local populations get large enough, they can become a perimeter invader too. We find this most on the farm where they feed all summer long and by the fall, adults will be seeking safe refuge for the change of seasons.
DARKLING BEETLE YARD SPRAY ^
For the yard, farm, etc., CYONARA RTS can be used effectively if the lot is 1/2 acre or less. It too comes in a handy ready to spray container, is odorless and easy to apply. Labeled for use on gardens, Cyonara will both kill and repel darkling beetles off the plants and home so spray any surface you need to protect.
Each quart will cover up to 1/2 acre and treatments should last 2-4 weeks but retreat as needed.
For lots 1/2 acre or more, go with BIFEN XTS. This concentrate is the strongest option and can cover larger areas more effectively.
Use 8 oz to treat 1 acre; 1 oz to cover 5,000 sq/ft. Like the Cyonara, treatments should last 2-4 weeks but retreat as needed. Bifen is not labeled for use on gardens but for open areas, the best option.
Use a good power sprayer to make the application or a high volume HOSE END SPRAYER. With our 20 gallon model, you’ll need to add 1 oz of Bifen and then some water to get it up to the “5 gallon” line on the sprayers container. This means you’ll be spraying out 5 gallons of water to treat 5,000 sq/ft at which time the tank should empty.
FOR DARKLING BEETLES IN OR ON THE HOME.. ^
If given the chance, darkling beetles will become invasive. To keep them out, you’ll need to spray the homes exterior and in some cases, treat inside too.
The best spray for the homes exterior is CYPERMETHRIN. Apply it with any standard PUMP SPRAYER. Darkling beetles don’t like it and will stay off treated surfaces so it works well at keeping them off the home. Use it monthly when they’re active and be sure to treat key entry ways like around windows, soffits and doorways.
Mix 1 oz per gallon of water and expect 1 gallon of mixed material to cover up to 500 sq/ft of surface area.
Use any good PUMP SPRAYER to make the application and be sure to spray up high, around soffits, rain gutters and the roof line.
DARKLING BEETLES IN THE HOME ^
Once you start finding darkling beetles inside living areas, treat baseboards, windows and other surfaces with activity using PHANTOM AEROSOL. This product is unique and won’t spook them or chase them around. In fact they cannot detect the active and will readily walk over treated surfaces.
When this happens they’ll pick up a lethal dose and 3-4 days later, die. Phantom is odorless and goes on dry making it ideal for use in the home.
One can is usually enough to treat the average home 2-3 times. Expect to treat every 2 weeks when they’re active; once every 2 months to make sure they don’t get established again.
DARKLING BEETLE MAINTENANCE ^
Since darkling beetles usually aren’t invasive, there is no need to do regular maintenance on your home or property to keep numbers in check. From time to time you might find some in the yard but they will leave as soon as the fecal matter is depreciated or if you spray thoroughly.
Now if you have animals that are generating a lot of feces throughout the year, get used to seeing darkling beetles and expect to treat throughout the warm season. In some cases they may be a welcome guest but if you’re using manure as fertilizer, you may want to reduce these manure feeding beetles so your garden can best benefit from the important nutrients manure can provide.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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