A fairly large (7-10mm) oval beetle, almost black but with a distinct pale band across the front of the wing-cases. The larvae are white after first hatching, but turn brown and are covered with tufts of bristly hair. They grow to 10-12mm long and occasionally tunnel into soft wood to pupate. The life cycle takes about three months.
Both beetle and larvae are scavengers, feeding on scraps of food – especially ham, bacon or cheese, or on dead mice or birds. They often enter houses from old birds’ nests.
One of a family called the Dermestid beetles, meaning “skin eaters”. Related species include the dark-brown Leather Beetle and the very similar Dermestes haemorrhoidalis, which perhaps not surprisingly has no English name.
REMEDY: Check lofts, eaves and odd neglected corners for corpses or nests. Destroy badly infested food and thoroughly clean the storage area. Spray with a household insecticide or use a puffer pack of insect powder to treat all cracks and crevices where fluff and debris may accumulate. Select a product labelled for stored product beetle control.