I first noticed them a couple of weeks ago, but only today found a bit of time and inspiration to explore these beetles through the macro lens.


Stegobium paniceum is the name of the species. The family is Ptinidae.

Like all members of that family, the Stegobium paniceum commonly known as the Drugstore beetle is a very small insect.


This is how I saw them before the macro lens got involved. Just a bunch of black dots on the frosted glass of my bathroom window.


Here you can see them posing on the old-fashioned tiles that are here since 1973 when the house was built.

Drugstore beetles feed on a wide variety of foods that can be found around humans. Today, while exploring the Internet in search of information about this species, I found many sites that quote some common, anonymous, and probably quite an old expression that states that these beetles will eat anything but cast iron.
When it comes to food that we also eat, they feed on flours, various types of dry food, bread, cookies, various spices, chocolates, and other sweets. They are very fond of dry cat and dog food too.
There is also a nice variety of non-food materials that are used as food by the Stegobium paniceum. The wool, ad example. And hair. Leather. Horns.
They bore into books, wooden objects, and, in some cases, tin or aluminum foil and lead sheets.
Museum and herbarium specimens are very vulnerable to their voracious attacks.

Besides all the stuff I mentioned before, Stegobium paniceum beetles also love to eat various pills and prescription drugs, some very toxic ones included. Strychnine, ad example. That's how they got their common name. Drugstore beetles. When I found that information it made me think of Drugstore Cowboy.
Drugstore Cowboy is a movie from 1989. I saw it a couple of years later, on Italian television. It was directed by Gus Van Sant. It was his second movie, and when it comes to "drug movies" I think it's a masterpiece. It has drama. A little bit of action too. It has subtle, surprising, and imaginative humor. It's very down-to-earth. No stupid exagerations here. William S. Burroughs appears as an old man, and his quiet scene with Matt Dillon that plays the protagonist is pure gold. There is some violence but is never over dramatic and over the top. The people look like real people with their real human reasons, and that's a fantastic refreshment after tons of extra cool or extra stupid or extra violent or extra whatever drug users in most of the movies that do weird stuff only because "drugs, you know, drugs are crazy, man". In my humble opinion, besides this and Trainspotting, movies about drug use range from mildly entertaining to pure shit. These are the only two movies of that kind that I consider great. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, ad example it's a great and entertaining movie. The actors are great. Terry Gilliam is always unique and fantastic. But it's a cool, fun ride. A cool piece of art, but not a great piece about drugs. In my opinion, of course.
Ok, that's enough about the drugs and cinema. This is a post about insects.

This beetle somehow ended up overturned. Like Gregor Samsa in that cute little novella that uses an insect in such an iconic way that has never been seen before or since in literature. Unlike Gregor, this Stegobium paniceum found its way out of this embracing situation pretty quickly.

Here is another interesting fact about this species: The drugstore beetle lives in symbiosis with a yeast fungus, which is passed on to the larvae by covering the eggs with it. This yeast enables the drugstore beetle to feed and survive on many foods and other items of poor nutritional quality.


The following links will take you to the sites with more information about the protagonists of this post. I found some stuff about them there.



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