Possibly native to northern Africa, as the beetles have been found in Egyptian mummies. The Red-legged Ham Beetle is now found throughout the world.
The ham beetles are in a large family of beetles whose species are almost all predators on other insects. However, several species also feed on meat products, such as cured or smoked meats, bacon, cheese, or oil seeds. These species also feed on other insect larvae they may find in these foods. Ham beetles also feed on animal products in processes such as taxidermy, where they may be a nuisance as they feed within antlers or other residual meat materials. Both adults and larvae feed, and the adults have been known to “bite” when handled. Adult females can lay as many as 2000 eggs, and the period from egg to adult may be only 1 month. Since adults feed they are long-lived, surviving up to 14 months, with several generations per year.
The Red-legged Ham Beetle has distinctly red legs, shiny blue wings. The adults are small, from 3.5 to 7 mm long, and they are very active either running or flying. The antennae consist of around 8 small segments at the base and 4 much larger segments forming a compact club at the end. The larva may be somewhat similar to a carpet beetle, with dark coloration and a slightly hairy body, but its head is much more visible in front and it has 2 short “horns” on its tail end.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Proper storage of meat products has greatly reduced the pest potential of these beetles on food. In the respect that they are predators on other unwanted pest larvae they serve a benefit and may be only a nuisance value in non-food situations.