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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Insect ID Request from Brooklyn, NY


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Dear Eric,

I am located in Brooklyn, NY in an apartment on the first floor. I have been seeing these guys on and off for a long time, especially when the weather is warm, but not more than 1-2 or at a time. Recently I was out of the country for 6 weeks and I came back to what I fear is an infestation of them. They're everywhere. They are a deep dark, sometimes reddish brown color and when they fly the look a little more reddish. The mostly cling to the walls/ceiling and around windowsills and are very attracted to light, although I've found them on the couch, on decorative items, on the table. They fly and sometimes jump. When disturbed, they roll up into a ball. They seem uncoordinated and even at times land on my body. Sometimes they fall off the ceiling. They do not crawl or fly very fast. They don't seem particularly attracted to food, although I have seen them in the kitchen. They are more active at night. The look like fleas. I've seen a lot of dead ones around the windows and under the sink in my bathroom. I would say the room with the biggest problem is the bathroom. I sometimes vaccuum up to 10 of them off the walls and within 30 minutes they're all back. I'm really getting quite concerned and don't know what to do. Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated. Thank you so much.


The insects in the images are either Drugstore Beetles or Cigarette Beetles, both of which are "stored product pests" in the family Ptinidae (or Anobiidae, depending on which classification system you adhere to).  Here is more about them:

Pantry Pests in general:

I have no personal experience with these, but I can guarantee that there is some item (or items) somewhere that is (are) infested, and it is mostly a matter of finding that item and discarding it.

Store all vulnerable foodstuffs (including dry pet food) in metal, glass, or durable plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.  Cardboard boxes and plastic bags offer no barrier to insects.

All of this said, the beetles pose no health threat that I am aware of.


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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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