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 would be the only option labeled for vegetables intended for human consumption. So if you’ll need to treat areas where spraying will be on your garden, this would be your best option. Its not nearly as strong as the two options listed below but for sensitive areas, your best bet.
Cyonara 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 adults BUT it won’t affect eggs or pupae and so plan on spraying multiple times.
Each quart can cover up to 1/2 acre; retreat as needed.
For lots 1/2 acre or more, go with MAXXTHOR EC. 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. Treat every 2 weeks till the activity ends.
To get the most of your treatment, add SPREAD-X BOOST to your tank mix along with the Maxxthor. Boost is an adjuvant, also known as a wetter spreader or spreader sticker. It basically makes water and the mixture more “slippery” so you get better coverage. Treatments will spread 2-3 times wider and penetrate deeper.
The following short video summarizes why Boost can help deliver your treatment to where it matters the most. And this is extra helpful when treating for certain pests that are likely have a lot of eggs and pupae. Maxxthor is oil based and so can penetrate some of these stages. When Boost is added, Maxxthor will have the ability to maximize that chance and in turn, cut down on how many retreatments would be needed.
Add no more than the rate you’re applying the Maxxthor so in this case, if you’re adding 2.5 oz of Maxxthor to the hose end sprayer, add 2.5 oz of Boost too before adding water. If you’re adding Maxxthor to a pump sprayer at the rate of 1 oz per gallon, use 1 oz of Boost.
And don’t spray in the middle of the day; treat late in the day close to sunset so the treatment can dry without direct sunlight. UV light on the Boost can stress plants if the temperature is 85 degrees or higher so treat 2 hours or less before sunset to reduce sunlight stress.
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 Maxxthor 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 the MAXXTHOR EC listed above. Add 1/2 oz per gallon of water and use the mixture to cover up to 500 sq/ft of your homes siding.
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 in the home, darkling beetles will find cracks and crevices to use for nests. Like the Maxxthor, its oil based and as such, can penetrate stubborn eggs and pupae and in turn, kill off all stages.
Darkling beetles will invade homes if outside populations get too big. And once inside, they can eat a range of organic matter too like carpets and furniture. For small issues, treat with FS MP AEROSOL. It can be used as a spot spray for small areas on the floor, up under furniture or around windows and doors where this beetle likes to hide.
For large problems, go with BITHOR. It mixes with water at the rate of 1 oz per gallon of water and you’ll get up to 1,000 sq/ft of coverage per mixed gallon.
Use it on baseboards, spot spraying carpets and furniture as well as attics and crawl spaces.
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.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. On Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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