Several beetle species are economically burdensome crop pests, but beetles are unrepresented as urban pests of homes and buildings. The most common beetle pests of structures include various species of carpet and wood-boring beetles, all of which have the potential to inflict costly property damage. For example, during their development into adults, old house borer beetle larvae excavate cavities within structural lumber for nesting and feeding purposes. These infestations are initiated when airborne adult females deposit eggs within tiny cracks and crevices on the surface of structural wood. After hatching, larvae eat their way into lumber where they continue to inflict damage for years, making structural wood vulnerable to collapse.
Carpet beetles inflict costly property damage by feeding on indoor fabrics, but the beetle species that are prevalent on residential lawns rarely demonstrate pest behaviors beyond occasionally gravitating toward artificial lights within homes. Sugarcane beetles are well known for their attraction to lights, but not so much for causing damage to important structural and cosmetic features on the exterior of homes and vehicles. Entomologists, pest control professionals and other experts working for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension have been receiving more and more complaints from Texas residents about sugarcane beetles inflicting costly damage to homes, businesses, vehicles and schools.
According to extension employees, sugarcane beetles have caused tremendous damage to running tracks at multiple schools throughout Texas. Not long ago, a Paris high school’s track was destroyed by a massive sugarcane beetle infestation. Last year, the beetles inflicted thousands of dollars in damage by eating their way through rubber seals on the exterior of vehicles located at a car dealership. Many residents and small business owners have found sugarcane beetles eating their way through caulking around doors, windows and patched cracks on the exterior of homes and buildings. Sugarcane beetles have also become well known for damaging roof shingles, sealants along expansion joints and expansion papers.
Sugarcane beetles are ½ to ⅝ of an inch, oval shaped and robust. Their populations peak twice per year; once during the spring and again during late August. These beetles often become overabundant on residential lawns where adults can be a nuisance during the night due to their habit of gathering around indoor lights. At sunrise, these beetles congregate on shaded areas of homes where they burrow into any pliable material. Sugarcane beetles are difficult to control, but switching to sodium vapor light fixtures can reduce their numbers around homes, and insecticide spot treatments can be used to prevent imminent damage.
Have you ever found a massive cluster of insect pests on the exterior of your home?