Mezium americanum, the American spider beetle or black spider beetle, is a species of beetle in the subfamily Ptinidae, the spider beetles. These are sometimes mistaken for spiders or mites because of their rounded abdomens and long legs. It has a cosmopolitan distribution, but it is an exotic species in Australia.
The beetle is about 1.5 to 3.5 millimetres (0.059 to 0.138 in) long. Its body is dull yellow and hairy, and the elytra are a glossy black or reddish. It has a nearly clindrical thorax with blunt projections on each side. The antennae and legs are long and slender and pale brown to yellow in color. The larva is C-shaped and cream-colored with a brown head.
Like many other spider beetles, this species feeds on stored animal and vegetable products, including foodstuffs. It lives on nuts, beans, seeds, spices, cacao and powdered chocolate, cereals and meal, dried fruits, herbs, and mushrooms, soup powder, fish meal, and bread. Other products it consumes include leather and animal skins, bones, feathers, dried feces, silk, wool, textiles, old wood, books, and dead insects and specimens, including taxidermy. It is known to feed on cayenne pepper, tobacco, and opium.
- Mezium americanum (Laporte). Entomology. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
- Jacobs, S. Spider beetles. Entomological Notes. Cooperative Extension. Penn State. 2006, Revised 2013.
- Mezium americanum. Pests and Diseases Image Library (PaDIL).
- Milne, L. and M. Milne. 1980. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders. 8th printing. Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York, N.Y.
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