Adult larder beetles are about 8mm long and dark brown, with a broad, pale yellow, black-spotted band across the front portion of the wing covers. There are six black dots on this band, three on each wing cover, arranged in a triangle. The underside and legs are covered with fine, yellowish hairs. Other dermestes species include D. peruvianas (uniformly dark) and D. maculatus (black with patches of white hairs).
Females each lay about 135 eggs, which hatch in 12 or more days. Larvae prefer spoiled ham, bacon, dried beef and other meats. Larvae either bore into this meat or wander away to bore into wood, books and even metals such as lead and telephone cables to pupate. The life cycle requires 40 to 50 days.
In domestic situations or industrial kitchens, an integrated programme of cleaning and spraying with a residual insecticide (paying attention to all cracks and crevices), will control most infestations.