Dead beetles

A group of dead desert stink beetles lay amid tree debris at Mohave Crossroads shopping center. The insects have been more noticeable than normal this season.

BULLHEAD CITY — Noticed a large number of dead beetles around Bullhead City and the Mohave Valley area while running errands and during shopping trips? 

You’re not the only one. 

Tiny black beetles — and their corpses — have been showing up outside many area businesses. Some of the beetles find their way indoors but unless they can find water and nourishment, they also die.

Whether travel patterns or wind brought larger numbers of dead beetles to some locations isn’t known. 

However, influxes of mostly dead ones have been seen on the ground outside buildings at the Mohave Crossroads shopping center, Walmart, Smith’s in Fort Mohave and other locations.

“This influx is simply a sudden outbreak due to the extreme moisture we saw this year,” said Matt Hanrahan, owner of Baron Services in Fort Mohave, which specializes in pest, landscape, pool and security services for homes and commercial customers.

There is an annual increase in sightings of these beetles but this year has been especially good for the bugs.

“The winter rains and weed growth we had have provided a great meal source for these guys,” Hanrahan explained.

Employees at Ace Hardware have been removing dead beetles from outside the store for about a week. Some have made it into the store’s foyer, said Ray Sanders, Ace’s floor manager.

“I don’t remember seeing this many beetles,” he said. 

At one point, someone working there saw two in the foyer but some sort of motion or noise brought out about 60 more. They quickly scattered.

Thousands were outside stores at Mohave Crossroads. Many appeared to have met their demise this weekend on the sidewalk that runs from Target to Kohl’s. 

A couple with a large dog walked by some of the dead beetles. The dog sniffed one of the bugs, then put the insect in its mouth for a few seconds. The dog quickly spit the beetle out and backed away from a dead beetle pile-up.

The beetles appear to be pinacates, also known as desert stink beetles. They are able to ward off perceived threats with a irritating secretion from their back end. They do this by bending forward until their head almost reaches the ground and their rear is pointed up toward their antagonist to properly spray them.

This is the likely origin of another name for this beetle species, the desert headstanding beetle, Sanders said. 

Dogs and other household pets aren’t natural predators to beetles. Those would include grasshopper mice, burrowing owls and skunks, according to Desert USA. 

The species is one among tens of thousands of beetles classified as darklings. Except for the “ick” factor, the dead bugs aren’t harmful to people or animals, according to the Mohave County Cooperative Extension. 

Hanrahan said that it’s better not to use pesticide to control the beetles. Pesticides aren’t all that effective on the beetles and could sicken any animals that put a treated beetle in their mouth — even more so than a spritz from the beetle’s backside.

Beetles don’t come indoors to invade. Adult beetles prefer garden debris and decaying plants and there has been plenty of that sort of material outside for them to eat.

Humans see these beetles more often than others because they love bright lights. 

Hanrahan suggested that it’s best to wait out the beetle onslaught. 

“We usually see our annual outbreaks last about two weeks,” he added.

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