Common insect pest species in homes

This page contains information on a number of common insect pest species that can be found in homes and cause damage to food, furniture, clothes and plants.

Each factsheet is downloadable as a PDF file, and offers information on how to identify the pest, its life cycle and suggestions as to how to control it.

Identification services

The Museum offers a free identification service for the public, and also a commercial service for businesses.

Food pests

The biscuit beetle is small, 2-4mm, reddish brown and a common pest in food

Biscuit beetle, Stegobium paniceum

The bread, or biscuit beetle (or the drugstore beetle in the USA) is one of the commonest pest insects of stored food. They are small, between 2-4 mm in length, and reddish-brown.

Download the factsheet on the biscuit beetle PDF (377KB)

The pantry, or Indian meal moth is a pest in food. The moths have a winspan of 10-15 mm, with purplish brown forewings and greyish white hindwings.

Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella

The pantry, or Indian meal moth is a common pest of stored foods. As the yellowish white or pinkish larvae feed they cover foodstuff with webbing - often the first indication of an infestation.

Download the factsheet on the pantry moth PDF (166KB)

The golden spider beetle has golden yellow, silky hair and a spider like appearance. Adults are 3.0-4.5 mm long. A pest of food and sometimes textiles.

Golden spider beetle, Niptus hololeucus

The golden spider beetle has golden yellow, silky hair and a spider like appearance. Adults are 3.0-4.5 mm long. Often a pest of stored food products but can also attack textiles.

Download the factsheet on the golden spider beetle PDF (272KB)

Furniture pests

The furniture beetle is 2.5-5 mm long and dull red to dark brown. Its larvae cause woodworm in furniture.

Furniture beetle, Anobium punctatum

Furniture beetle larve develop over 3-5 years, feeding and growing within wood. When the adult beetles exit the larval tunnels, they leave behind round exit holes 1.5-2.0 mm wide, and small piles of wood dust characteristic of woodworm damage.

Download the factsheet on the furniture beetle PDF (295KB)

Death watch beetles are 5-9mm long,  dark brown in colour with patches of yellow hair. Their larvae cause woodworm in furniture.

Death watch beetle, Xestobium rufovillosum

Adult death watch beetles are 5-9mm in length. Holes in wood from their tunneling larvae are the most likely piece of evidence to suggest an infestation. The holes and tunnels are circular and around 3mm in diameter.

Download the factsheet on the death watch beetle PDF (223KB)

Powder-post beetles are about 4-5 mm long and brown in colour. Their larvae cause woodworm in furniture.

Powder-post beetle, Lyctus brunneus

Adult powder-post beetles are generally 4-5 mm long and range in colour from light brown to reddish-brown. Adult beetles usually emerge from the infested wood between May and September, with bore holes 1.5mm to 2mm in diameter.

Download the factsheet on the powder post beetle PDF (216KB)

Clothes, carpets and natural fibres pests

Common clothes moths have golden coloured wings and a wingspan of 12-17mm. Their larvae damage carpets and clothing.

Common clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella

The adult clothes moth has golden coloured wings and a wingspan of 12-17mm. Their larvae feed on natural animal fibres such as wool, silk and fur and can cause serious damage to carpets and clothing.

Download the factsheet on the common clothes moth PDF (373KB)

Case-bearing clothes moths have silver grey-brown coloured wings and a wingspan of 9-16mm. Their larvae damage carpets and clothing.

Case-bearing clothes moth, Tinea pellionella

The adult case-bearing clothes moth has silver grey-brown coloured wings and a wingspan of 9-16mm. Their larvae spin tunnel-like cases from silk and surrounding materials to camouflage and protect themselves.

Download the factsheet on the case-bearing clothes moth PDF (319KB)

Varied carpet beetles are small, 1.5–3.5 mm long, and round, patterened with white, orange and black patches. Their larvae damage carpets and clothing.

Varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci

Adult varied carpet beetles are small (1.5–3.5 mm) and round, patterened with white, orange and black patches. Their larvae, which eat wool carpets and other fabrics of animal origin, are called woolly bears because of their bodies being covered in hairs.

Download the factsheet on the varied carpet beetle PDF (359KB)

The two-spot carpet beetle is 4.5-6 mm long, very dark brown to black with two white spots on its wing cases. Their larvae damage carpets and clothing.

Two-spot carpet beetle, Attagenus pellio

The two-spot carpet beetle has an elongated oval body, 4.5-6 mm long, very dark brown to black in colour, with two white spots on the wing cases. Their larvae are up to 6.5 mm long when fully developed, torpedo-shaped, with two long orange tufts of hair at the end of their abdomens.

Download the factsheet on the two-spot carpet beetle PDF (243KB)

Vodka beetles are about 2.5 mm long, with a black base colour and dense hairs giving brown wing cases. Their larvae damage carpets and clothing.

Vodka beetle, Attagenus smirnovi

Adult vodka beetles have oval bodies 2-5 mm long and 2-2.5 mm wide, with black base colour and dense hairs giving brown to reddish-yellow wing cases. Their larvae are up to 8 mm long when fully developed, torpedo-shaped, with darker and lighter stripes.

Download the factsheet on the vodka beetle PDF (169KB)

Other pests

Bed bugs are small, oval, and brown in colour though red after a meal. They live on blood and can bite sleeping humans.

Bed bug, Cimex lectularius

Bed bug adults are small (4–5 mm long and 1.5–3.0 mm wide), oval, flattish insects with needle-like mouthparts which pierce the skin of mammals and birds to suck their blood. Usually bed bugs are mahogany-brown in colour but they become deep purple or red after a meal.

Download the factsheet on the common bed bug PDF (300KB)

Vine weevils are around 1cm in length, with long snouts and elbowed antennae. They are plant pests.

Vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus

Vine weevils are fairly large beetles, around 1cm in length, with long snouts (rostrums) and elbowed antennae. As plant pests, their larvae live in the soil and eat roots, while the adults feed on foilage.

Download the factsheet on the vine weevil PDF (300KB)