So, you need to get rid of click beetles from your home or garden. For good.
The “clicking” is driving you crazy.
They spook you when they jump.
They pop outta nowhere when you try to do some yard work.
And they’re eating up your plants and stunting their growth.
In this article, we’ll cover these topics:
- How to identify click beetles
- Why you click beetles in your home or garden
- How to get rid of them
- Ways to repel them
- When to call an exterminator
- And more
Sound good? Let’s get the beetles outta here.
Last updated: 6/21/20.
What’s a click beetle?
Click beetles are the bugs that “snap” when they’re upside down.
They’re commonly found all over the US and will startle even the most prepared gardener with their noise.
The adults can jump at a speed of 8 feet per second right into your face as you lean to smell the roses!
The larvae are known to munch your plant roots and can destroy younger seedling, especially when there are a lot.
As for the adults, they tend to hang around rich soil and will hunt for other pests and eat pollen and nectar.
They’re usually not a serious problem, but can be a nuisance when they get into your home or click when you’re doing yard work.
Click beetles have a few other nicknames that are used to identify this particular pest.
They may also be called:
- Snapping beetles
- Spring beetles
- Spring beetles
- Typical click beetles
They’re also mistaken for roaches.
Click beetles have a life cycle similar to all other beetles.
They’re part of the family Elateridae and have four distinct developmental phases of their life. Beetles are known to go through complete metamorphosis.
Adult female click beetles will mate and seek out moist soil to lay her eggs.
She’ll find soil nearby host plants that the larvae will feed on during development into adults.
These plants are generally near other natural debris like wood, bark, and leaf litter as the larvae will need shelter to pupate into an adult.
The females will dig out burrows to deposit eggs. You may be able to find them surrounding the base of host plants.
The eggs hatch within a few weeks and the larvae emerge under the soil. They’ll start feeding on the host plant root system and eat up any foliage they come into contact with.
After a few molts, the larvae will seek out nearby organic material to start pupating. This will take several months to years.
After the larvae are ready to pupate, they’ll spin a cocoon in an empty chamber under the soil.
This happens in the late summer or early fall. After a few weeks, the adults will emerge from the soil and are capable of the clicking and jumping they’re known for.
How long do larvae stay in the soil?
The larvae will complete multiple molts in the soil, sheltered from predators.
Depending on the species and the environment, it can take a few months up to 6 years.
This can lead to extensive damage to plants as the beetle larvae pupation bulbs up over time, meaning additional beetles are added to the nearby soil every year.
How to identify a click beetle
The click beetle may be very similar to other similar pests, like the Texas beetle which looks just like one but without the clicking.
This is also known as a false click beetle and is part of the Eucnemidae family.
Adults can readily be told apart from others simply by their flattened bodies. They have 6 visible limbs and a pair of extended antennae. There are two large wings that extend down the back and are rounded at the end.
They’re usually dark in color such as black or brown. Some may have patterned wing covers and others are randomly mottled.
Of course, the definite technique is to either see them jump or hear them click. This will confirm that you’re dealing with click beetles.
What do they look like?
They’re easy to tell from other beetles. Look for the large covers on their wings that run parallel down their body- with 6 limbs total and a large pair of antennae.
If anything, they look like mini roaches.
Click beetles have a distinct appearance. They have a long, elongated body and are usually black or brown in color.
They may have patterns on their hard exoskeleton shell and can be confused for a medium-sized roach (like the American or German roaches). Adult click beetles grow to about 1” in length and average out at this size.
They have long, parallel bodies with backward projections at the rear end. They’re mostly flat and range in a variety of colors depending on their species. They can have brown or black coloration.
Some have red and yellow patterns all over their wings and back. The famous eyed click beetle has prominent black eyespots on the back of the head that looks like a pair of large eyes. They also have mottled wing covers that may have random patterning
The click sound comes from them snapping their thorax segments. This forces them to flip in the air quickly.
The larvae are hard to the touch and visibly segmented.
They’re flattened just like the adults. They can be 0.3 to 2.5” in length.
Click beetle larvae are similar to mealworms in appearance with their cylindrical bodies and three pairs of true legs behind a flat head.
After they’re born, you’ll have a baby click beetle rummaging around for the first time.
Do they look like roaches?
Click beetles can be mistaken for roaches because of their size and exoskeleton.
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Their rear pointed wings are similar to those seen on a cockroach. The 2 large antennae are also very similar to those on a roach.
Although their size may be similar and appearance at first glance, that’s where the similarities stop.
What do click beetles eat?
Adult click beetles eat plant matter.
They’re a treat for newly planted crops (seedlings) or young plants, as they can destroy the plant in large numbers. The larvae feed on plant roots and are a known agricultural pest which means farmers and crop growers need to be concerned.
For the typical gardener, they may be able to harm or stunt the growth of your veggies, fruits, or other decorative plants.
The larvae may also attack other small bugs and can be found in organic matter like logs, tree bark, leaf litter, and more.
Where are they found?
Click beetles are found all over North America in temperature environments.
There are over 900 confirmed species, so different colors, patterns, and habitat behaviors range depending on where they live and their local environment. So you can see there are different types click beetles all over the world.
Because of their sheer geographic distribution, click beetles have natural diversity and vary greatly.
They live in nearly every continent except for the Arctic and extreme climates, similar to other beetles. North America hosts a huge variety of click beetle species.
Because of their adaptive nature, they exhibit a huge genetic diversity and this leads to multiple colorations and behavior patterns.
This is why you need to identify the pest you’re dealing with and see if it’s really a click beetle. Since a lot of beetles are similar in appearance, you may be seeing some other pest altogether.
Can click beetles fly?
Yes, click beetles are capable of flying short distances.
With over 900 different types of click beetles, there are many variations in how far they can fly and how high they can jump.
Some species are capable of flying short distances, while others are grounded permanently.
Their tough shell and powerful body allow them to fly without injuring themselves.
Beetles may also emit different frequencies of “clicks” they use to scare off predators.
Where do they live?
Click beetles are native to the outdoors and usually do not come into homes.
However, they may occasionally wander into your house because of attractants such as temperature conditions, light sources, or even overpopulation or competition.
Outside, you’ll find adult click beetles hiding under dense vegetation and plant matter like tree bark, leaf litter, and decaying plant foliage. They prefer dark, moist conditions similar to most other beetles (and cockroaches).
They also hide in crevices and cracks that help them feel safe and protected from outside predators.
This can be found throughout nature such as cracks in rocks, natural bark and tree crevices, and even cracks and crawl spaces on man-made buildings.
Click beetle larvae will feed on plant matter such as potatoes, corn, and grains. They can be a serious threat to farmers and even the basic gardener who’s just trying to raise some greens.
Although they’re often considered a pest, click beetles won’t do enough damage to kill plants unless their population is out of control.
When are they active?
Click beetles are active during the night. In other words, they’re nocturnal and spend most of their lives hiding in the soil.
This is not an exception for all species, as there are click beetles that are active during the day (diurnal).
However, the majority will hide when the sun is out and come out of the soil at night.
Does winter or cold weather kill click beetles?
Adults and larvae both are not killed by the cold winter.
They hide in the soil and overwinter. Adults will dig out chambers to hide from the winter.
The larvae are shielded by hiding in the soil dug out by the adult female. They can feed off plant root systems and overwinter using it as a food supply.
Thus, click beetles aren’t killed by the winter.
Why do they click?
Click beetles produce their infamous clicking noise to get out of a snap.
When they’re stuck on their backs, they use a special sophisticated mechanism to get them upright. They have a segmented thoracic system.
There’s a space right between their prothorax and mesothorax that’s flexible.
Another body part called the prosternal spine can be secured into a hold between the middle limbs.
Once the spine catches in the hold, the beetle is primed. It then straightens out its entire body and the spine slips into another groove within the sternal spine.
This makes the click sound and the entire beetle is propelled into the air. This is what startles a lot of people.
Wondering what sound they make?
Here’s a video that shows it off:
Click beetles can jump up to 30cm, which is more than 25 total body lengths! They can do up to 6 flips in the air before they land right-side up.
What are they attracted to?
Click beetles adults are attracted to plant matter like nectar, flowers, and pollen.
They’ll also eat other bugs like aphids, ants, small worms, and grubs.
These are omnivores and will feed on both plants and bugs.
As for the larvae, they primarily eat the plant roots, seeds, and small bugs found hiding in the soil.
Depending on the click beetle’s life cycle, the larvae and the adult eat different things.
At night, click beetles tend to hove around light sources.
This can be any of the following:
- Patio lights
- Deck lights
- Pathway markers (solar lights)
- Security lights
- Yard decor lights
- LED lights
- Lights coming from inside your house
- Lights coming from under your doorway
Though they’re active at night, they’re still attracted to light sources. Minimizing your light profile and turning off unnecessary lighting may help prevent and discourage click beetles from infesting your property.
Are they bad to have?
Click beetles have a signature “jumping” behavior that made them famous.
They use it as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened or cornered. Click beetles use a special part of their body that lets them leap upward many times higher than their body height.
When they jump, they also make a “click” noise, which is where their names stem from. The entire process is fast and only lasts a split second.
Click beetles easily are triggered by any predator nearby. This will make them jump up and “click.”
But usually, this happens when they get stranded on their backs. They’ll snap their body segments together and produce that click to which will then make them do a spring jump!
Are they harmful to humans?
Click beetles are harmless to humans and pets.
They can’t sting and don’t bite. The only concern you should be worried about is the damage to your plant roots.
The sheer number of beetles found under the dirt can reach high populations per square footage of soil.
This can overrun your plant’s ability to repair and heal the root system.
Vulnerable plants (young or seedlings) can be killed by click beetles. This is the only danger of click beetles- other than the occasional click or jump that scares you.
Do click beetles bite?
Click beetles don’t bite humans and don’t sting either.
They’re more of a nuisance pest because their clicking noise can be annoying and their jumping can startle you.
The larvae can also pose a threat to your plants because they munch away at the plant roots for up to six years before pupating into an adult beetle.
This can cause significant damage over time if left alone. Click beetle larvae must be dealt with and eradicated ASAP if you don’t want to risk damage to your plants.
Signs of click beetles
These beetles rarely leave any traceable evidence within the household, as they’re soil-dwelling pests.
But you may find these insects and their clues in your yard.
Any signs of loud “ticking” or “snapping” noises may be a sign of these beetles in your garden.
You may also notice plants suddenly moving as the beetle bumps against it after it jumps.
The easiest and most obvious sign of beetles is the visible larvae under the soil when you mulch or garden.
You may see the adults come out at dawn or dusk. They’re not easy to see, but rather easy to hear.
Be on the lookout for the clicking sound when you scavenge through flowers or bushes. They’ll click and jump if they land upside down.
This is the only surefire technique to spot them. What more accurate way than to actually hear the “click” that gives them their name?
How to get rid of click beetles naturally
Here are some DIY home remedies you can use to control, manage, and eliminate click beetles from your home and garden.
Note that there’s no single method that works for all scenarios. You have to try a combination of them for best effect.
Use a vacuum (manual removal)
A vacuum can pick up click beetles quickly without having you touch them.
This is perfect for those who are squeamish and afraid to squish them or get near them (their jump can be startling).
Get a handheld vacuum and just suck them up when you come across them. This is useful when you do gardening and you know you’ll encounter some click beetles during your soil excavation.
After you suck them up, be sure to empty your vacuum.
You don’t want them to stay in there because they can easily walk out if the vacuum isn’t sealed.
Plus, they provide a source of food for smaller bugs to eat.
And they can even harbor bacteria. Yikes!
Repair your home
Your home should never be in a state of disrepair.
Since click beetles surface from the soil at night, they’ll likely be drawn towards the light coming from your home and find any way they can get to it.
So you should fix your home if you really want to deter these beetles from crawling their way in.
Consider doing the following:
- Replace any damaged window screens
- Fix weatherstripping
- Caulk any holes or cracks
- Clean up crawl spaces
- Seal up doorways
- Fix any damaged foundation around your house
- Repair damaged roofing
Mulch your soil
Keeping your soil mulched can keep it healthy and stir up the nutrient for even distribution.
It also makes it less “hard” so your younger seedlings can grow out their rooty system easily.
But for clicker beetles, this will constantly disturb the larvae, which may make the environment less favorable for them. Mulching also helps get rid of air pockets and blocked up moisture, both of which are something that benefits the larvae.
So mulch to reduce the moisture content and naturally repel the click beetle larvae.
Avoid excess water
Overwatering your plants leads to excess moisture in the soil, which is a major attractant for click beetles.
Don’t water more than necessary and consider switching to drought-tolerant plants. If you live in a dry environment, click beetles will migrate into your home during periods of drought.
By switching to plants that can handle drought, you can at least save the plants from being eaten up as the beetles migrate.
This also means you need to water your plants less which reduces the chance of them establishing a nest in your soil.
Remove excess moisture
Another easy technique to quickly make your home less appealing to click beetles is to eliminate any sources of moisture.
You should go through your yard and get rid of any free standing (stagnant) water.
Other things like water fountains, ponds, and pools also may be contributing to humidity in your yard. Consider getting rid of them if you don’t use them or they’re just collecting water.
Other than that, you can also repair or fix up drains around your home.
Do the following to help water flow and prevent any backup:
- Fix any damaged gutters
- Clean up backed up downspouts
- Clear up any drainage systems
- Ensure that water runways aren’t blocked by leaf litter or debris
- Use well-draining soil to prevent excess moisture where the click beetles live
This also applies to moisture in your house.
You should do a checkup and see if you have backed up pipes, leaky faucets, slow draining drains, or any other rooms where moisture constantly builds up. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a professional for a home inspection.
Often, they’re free and they can work with you to get a quote/pricing that suits your budget.
Eliminating moisture is the main thing you can do to make your home deter click beetles and keep them out.
Secondly, make sure your home is well kept and all the entry points are caulked or sealed to prevent pest entry.
Switch your substrate
You can use a different type of soil to enhance the drainage.
Well draining soil will help reduce the water content in the soil and will also prevent clicker beetles from living in it.
Depending on what plants you’re growing, the substrate can be swapped for something that allows water to flow freely.
If you’re growing typical ornamental or decorative plants, you can use an organic loose soil mixed with a sandbed, gravel, or pebbles to help the water drain.
Make sure to mulch it and don’t densely pack it. Most plants actually WANT soil that drains well, so this shouldn’t be hard to switch.
If you’re growing vegetables or fruits, the majority will also prefer soil that drains well.
You can consider adding sand, pebbles, perlite, or even some river rocks to aid the water flow.
Add some organic matter like compost, peat moss, or manure. You can also transplant your veggies or fruits to raised soil beds.
Or if you just don’t care about what plants you have and you just want the clicker beetles to stop getting to your home, then remove the soil or replace it completely with sand or river rocks.
This will eliminate the possibility of click beetles from ever hatching next to your house.
You can switch to a yellow light rather than the bright white lighting. Yellow lighting has been shown to repel flying pests, so this may be useful for beetles.
Although clicker beetles spend most of their time in the soil, at night, they’re out and about foraging for food.
They’ll gravitate towards any light they can find, so if you eliminate the sources near your home, you’re all set.
For indoor lights, get some blinds or curtains to block the light from being visible outdoors. Or turn them off.
If you absolutely can’t get blinds and need the light to be on, consider getting a dimmer to dim the light output if possible.
Lastly, make sure your doors and windows are secure and don’t have any gaps that they can use to get inside your home.
This is very important if you have a light right above a window or door on your property. The light will draw all sorts of critters to your home.
And once they find an entryway to get inside where it’s nice and sheltered from the elements, they just may find their way in your home for a surprise.
Clean up your garden
Keeping your yard clean is critical to having a pest-free home.
You never want to leave out leaf litter, debris, and dead plant matter. This just brings in bugs in huge numbers.
Do basic yard maintenance like cleaning up leaves, trimming your lawn, pulling all unnecessary plants, pruning everything, and removing excess foliage.
Sure, it takes time. Definitely.
But once you get started, keep up the schedule on a weekly basis and you can do it all quickly. For those who really can’t keep their yard clean, consider hiring a gardener or landscaper.
Lure natural predators
You can try to attract predators that naturally eat click beetles to help control them.
There are a few different types of bugs that’ll eat them despite their hard outer shell. They use their loud clicking to scare off anything that wants to eat them, but some predators just don’t care.
Consider attracting bugs and amphibians like lizards, frogs, birds, grasshoppers, spiders, snakes, and toads.
Depending on where you live, you’ll need to see which species natively lives there.
You can’t attract something that doesn’t exist in your area, so find out what you already have in your yard and do some research to find out how to lure more of them.
Plant hardy plants
Don’t want the beetles to gobble up your plants? Get some that have hardy root systems and tolerance against pests.
Although you’ll have to switch up your plant selection, this can be a good opportunity to change the substrate and change the plant type.
Choose a soil that’s well-draining and add the necessary organic matter to help it further (manure, pebbles, peat moss, etc.).
Choose plants that have hardy roots systems like marigolds, lavender, basil, mums, begonias, ageratum, foxglove, iris, salvia, cosmos, columbines, chrysanthemums, monarda, purple coneflower, rudbeckia, and more.
These are tough, pest repelling plants that may help repel the click beetles naturally.
Turning off lights that you don’t need at night will help keep the click beetles out of your property.
Consider turning off outdoor patio lights, pathway markers, or security lights that you don’t necessarily need.
If you’re not outside to enjoy them, they’re just burning electricity and attracting a whole host of nighttime bugs to your garden.
Other ways to manage click beetles
If natural techniques don’t do it for your infestation, try these.
If you need to use pesticides to kill the click beetles, look for something that contains pyrethrin.
This is a chemical that’s commonly used for beetles and other similar pests.
You can find sprays that can be used on vegetables, fruits, and regular decorative plants, but I’d be wary of spraying anything on edibles.
You should always look for organic or natural control sprays first. Read the label. Do your research. Always follow the manufacturer’s product package.
Consult a professional
You should hire a professional whenever you’re in doubt, or you can’t figure out the next step. Make sure the professional is licensed and insured.
They’ll be able to properly assess your situation, offer you advice, and get you a quote to eliminate the beetles for good.
Many pest control companies have yearly plans that guarantee a pest-free home. This may be worth your money, especially if you bugs that come in different seasons throughout the year.
Do your research and see what’s available in your area. Large chains are often quick to respond and offer on-call or next-day services.
As always, practice safety first. Use the right equipment.
Always read and follow product labels. Consult a licensed exterminator for pests in your area if you’re unsure or have any questions.
How do you kill a click beetle?
Killing one is easy. Even though these bugs have hard shells, they can easily be squished with a shoe, newspaper, or even a garden spade.
They don’t stand a chance against modern human tools, and a variety of garden pesticides will also kill them easily.
I suggest you use an organic or natural approach first before resorting to chemicals.
This is critical for those readers who are raising crops like fruits and veggies- you don’t want to contaminate your harvest with nasty pesticides, right?
Why are there so many click beetles in my house?
Click beetles may enter your home depending on the outside conditions.
They need moisture and a source of water to survive, so they’re naturally drawn to areas that can provide them with a water source.
If you live in an area where droughts happen frequently, you can expect click beetles to waltz into your home as they seek water.
You may find them during the night around your kitchen, bathrooms, or basement.
They like the water and excess humidity that comes from your sinks, toilets, and drains. If you have leaky faucets or pipes that drip, you’re just inviting these critters into your house.
Other common reasons why click beetles enter your property may be roof leaks, overwatering, poor drainage, stuck gutters, backed up downspouts, plumbing problems, septic problems, and other excess moisture and humidity.
Click beetles seek out soil to live in, so if you have indoor plants, this offers them a favorable environment to make themselves at home.
Combine that with a steady water source and you have a beetle paradise.
How to get rid of click beetles in your house
Click beetles that sneak into your home can be removed manually.
Following that, the best way to keep them out is to fix up your home.
They got in because they found a crack somewhere that allowed them to enter.
You need to find out how they got in, and caulk, seal or replace the damaged entry point.
Often, this is because of damaged window screening or door gaps. Both of these can be fixed by using replacement parts.
If you have other crevices in your foundation, roof, or attic, you’ll want to fix these also.
Think about it logically: If you have no entry points to your home, no beetles can get through!
You can also use a variety of essential oils around common entry points like door frames and windows to repel click beetles from coming in.
Essential oils like peppermint or lavender may work around areas where you simply can’t ensure a seal.
You can soak a cotton ball in the oil and place it strategically within these areas.
Some oils may be harmful to sensitive people and pets, so do your research.
You can also consider using sticky tape which can be easily applied to small cracks. Beetles will get stuck on them as they try to enter.
How to prevent click beetles permanently
Click beetles are persistent critters that seem to return every year when the temperatures pick up.
Although there’s no surefire way to completely get rid of them, you can still minimize their damage to plants and stop them from getting into your home.
Use a variety of self-management techniques and practice yard maintenance.
Attract natural predators, keep moisture low, and make sure your home is sealed up. Simply keeping your yard unfavorable to click beetles makes a huge difference to prevent egg deposition.
Add doing regular household repairs, which will help stop bugs from getting through. Both of these practices combined make your home able to block most flying pests like whiteflies, houseflies, and common household flies.
If you’re ever unsure about where they’re getting into your house, consult a professional. They’ll be able to do an inspection and find out for you.
Here are some additional references you can check out that you may find useful:
- Click beetle – Wikipedia
- Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species, Elateridae, click beetles
- Click beetle – Entomologists’ glossary
Did you get rid of the click beetles?
You now have the knowledge to tackle these loud snappers. Be patient and persistent.
Click beetles can be difficult to manage, control, and completely eradicate because of their high numbers.
But you can reduce and minimize the baby beetles from eating your plants or the adults from roaming your yard.
However, you can always stop them from getting into your house with some effort.
If you have any questions, post a comment.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.