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Stink Beetle Facts & Identification

Protect your home or business from stink beetles by learning techniques for identification and control.

Stink Beetle Illustration
Oval-shaped bodies
Jet black to dark brown
.5 to 1.5 inches


How do I get rid of stink beetles?

What You Can Do

If you need to deal with stink beetles in the house, some common tips include:

  • Insecticides are rarely necessary for control. The use of exclusion techniques and removal of beetle habitats near homes are better ways to manage stink beetles.

  • Do not use vacuums to remove stink beetles. The defensive odor they produce may at times remain on anything it touches for weeks.

  • Be careful if you disturb a stink beetle. Their spray may cause a burning and irritating sensation if it comes into contact with your eyes or mouth.

What Orkin Does

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage stink beetles and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique beetle treatment program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep stink beetles in their place…out of your home, or business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Stink Beetles


Beetles in the genus Eleodes are known by the common names stink beetles, darkling beetles, or circus beetles. The common name circus beetle comes from the beetle’s habit of standing on its head and assuming a defensive posture when disturbed. Stink beetles are not stink bugs and are different from the brown marmorated stink bug and the kudzu bug.

  • Body: Adult stink beetles have oval-shaped bodies. The desert stink beetle,

    Eleodes caudifera, is a very distinctive looking stink beetle since the rear of its abdomen looks like it has a long, extended projection.

  • Color: Their bodies are primarily jet black to dark brown.

  • Size: They range from about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long.


Most predators avoid stink beetles since some species raise up their rear end and either ooze or spray a pungent, smelly secretion at the predator. However, only about 30 percent of the Eleodes beetle species are capable of expelling this type of secretion. The other species either escape by running away and hiding under ground litter, or mimicking the behavior of raising up their rear end and making their predator think they are going to get sprayed.


Primarily, stink beetles eat decayed organic debris from grasses, broad-leaved plants, and other decaying vegetation. The larval stages of some species are commercial crop pests in the Midwest.


Stink beetle habitats include a variety of locations including:

  • Decaying vegetation

  • Open sand dunes

  • Under logs, shrubs, & stones

Geographic Range

Stink beetle population sizes and species are more abundant in states located west rather than east of the Mississippi River.

Life Cycle

As with other beetle species, stink beetles go through four stages of development in their life cycle:

  1. Egg

  2. Larva (grub)

  3. Pupa (cocoon)

  4. Adult

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