The dried fruit beetle, Carpophilus hemipterus (L.), belongs to the family Nitidulidae. It got its common name from attacking fruit in orchards and during the packing process. There are a number of other beetles in this family. Many people refer to this group as the “Sap Beetles”.
The dried fruit beetle is about 1/8″ long. It is dark colored, almost black and there are amber-colored spots on the wing covers. Like the other sap beetles, the dried fruit beetle has very short front wings. When they are folded, they do not cover the whole abdomen. These beetles have distinctive antennae. They are fairly short and end in a knob shape.
Most of the other sap beetles are dark-colored. They have similar wings as the dried fruit beetle. Some of the sap beetles look so similar that they may have to be identified by an expert.
There are several sap beetles that are pests of fruit. They attack figs, citrus fruit, strawberries, melons, apples, and tomatoes. Other sap beetles attack ear corn. Still others have been found in rice. These can be pests in homes, grocery stores, and fruit stands
Sap beetles can cause serious damage to fruits and vegetables. The beetles deposit their eggs on the fruit and the larvae eat some of the fruit. This makes the fruit unfit for consumption. The beetles transmit yeast cells, bacteria, and fungal diseases to the fruit.
Sap beetles are also pests of stored food products. They have been found in stored corn and other grains, peanuts, spices, sugar, and honey. They can be pests in homes, warehouses, and other laces where food is processed or stored.
In addition to the damage they cause, sap beetles can also be nuisances. When they emerge from the cocoon, the adult beetles gather where food is grown or served. They cluster on screen doors and around garbage cans. One species of sap beetle has been such a pest at parks that it has been named the Picnic Beetle.
In orchards, dried fruit beetles can be managed by careful sanitation. Experts recommend keeping damaged fruit picked up. In packing facilities, they encourage frequent disposal of rejected fruit. These actions will reduce the amount of fruit that the beetles can use for depositing eggs.
In homes, these beetles can be managed by careful inspection of fruits and vegetables before they are purchased. Fresh produce should never be stored on top of older items.
To keep these beetles from invading the home, make sure exterior doors close tightly and replace missing weather-stripping. Repair damaged screens on windows and vents.