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Domestic scleroderma, a little-known insect

Do you suspect scleroderma in your home ? In addition to scleroderma, wood-eating insects are also present, as they are parasitic insects linked to wood-eating insects. Scleroderma is naturally aggressive and has a very fine sting that injects a powerful venom and causes skin lesions. In this dossier, you'll find a range of answers and natural products to help you combat this insect as effectively as possible.

I would like to

Find out more about scleroderma

(identity, feeding habits, reproduction, etc.)


Combat scleroderma

(method of action, natural insecticides, etc.)


Who's the scleroderma ?

Scleroderma - scleroderma domesticumLatin name : scleroderma domesticum
Family : Bethylid Hymenoptera
Size : 1 to 10 mm
Location : South-west France
Period : All year round
Characteristics : The females are apterous and the males winged.

Adults measure between 1 and 10 mm in length. The general colour is brown; the head, projected forward, has two small, flat, black eyes on the sides. Like the thorax and legs, it is reddish in colour. The antennae are yellowish, hairless, thin and short but clearly visible. The thorax is separated from the abdomen by a distinct constriction. The abdomen is black, made up of six visible segments, the last of which ends, in the female, in a retractile sting.

Female scleroderms are wingless. She does not fly and can live for up to 3 months in favourable conditions: it is she who bites. The male, on the other hand, flies and only lives for about a week.

The adult female domestic scleroderma bites its host's larva in several places with its sting and bites it repeatedly with its mandibles for several days, until it is completely paralysed. It then feeds by sucking the haemolymph during a meal lasting several days before laying its eggs on the immobilised larva. The young scleroderma larvae attach themselves to the host's integument, while the female, who remains nearby, licks them, suggesting a rudimentary social life. When mature, the larva spins a cocoon; pupation lasts from two weeks to a month. Just after the imaginal moult, the males, which outnumber the females by around 1:2, mate and die. 

What you need to know about scleroderma

Woodworm larvae are the most frequent hosts of scleroderms.

Woodworm larvae are the most common hosts for scleroderma. The presence of scleroderma indicates the presence of wood-boring beetles, such as the woodworm or the capricorn beetle. In fact, scleroderms live off the larvae of these hosts in order to live and reproduce. In south-west France, in oceanic areas, there is only one generation of scleroderma per year. In warmer countries, there may be several generations (three in Mediterranean regions).

In the Balkans and southern Italy, scleroderma has always been a familiar sight to local people, and is much feared because it can swarm into homes. Some species are now thought to be spreading beyond the Mediterranean to invade temperate regions. These insects may simply have been introduced into your home from firewood or old furniture that has been "parasitised" by woodborers and, of course, scleroderms. 

The aggressive sting of scleroderma

Size of scleroderma in relation to a hand

Size of scleroderma in relation to a handHousehold scleroderma is common in the wood of beds and parquet floors. It can sting during the day, even through light clothing, but also at night, as it is often found in bedding. If the female scleroderma bites you, it means you have disturbed her. Her sting is unpleasant. Depending on the individual, it may go unnoticed or cause an itchy rash up to a centimetre in diameter. This redness lasts for about a week, before being replaced by brown to yellow patches that gradually peel off and remain visible for about 15 days.

In the event of an allergic reaction and repeated stings, the following may occur: fever, urticaria, adenopathy, satellites, aches and pains, oedema at a distance, nervousness or insomnia.

The nature of the venom is not known, but should not differ from that of other Aculeate Hymenoptera. It is a complex mixture of toxic proteins and enzymes, biogenic amines and various other molecules.

To protect yourself from the bite of this insect, our eucalyptus citriodora-based products will help. This natural substance provides a highly effective barrier against insects. Applied to your skin (either as a balm, spray or roller), they will keep the insect at bay and prevent bites.

Skin insect repellent lotion spray

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Scleroderma and biological control

Size of the scleroderma in relation to a match

The variety of behaviours and lifestyles within this small group (around 200 species) is astonishing. A number of Bethylidae have been used, with little success, against various insect pests of fruit, bolls (cotton pink worm), seeds (coffee cherry borer), wood and so on. Many of them play an important role in the range of natural enemies of a large number of crop and tree pests. In Australia, Goniozus antipodum Westwood is a serious enemy of the codling moth in apples and pears,

Cydia pomonella (Tortricid Lepidoptera). In France, Goniozus claripennis is an effective parasite of the grapevine moth (Sparganothis pilleriana, Tortricidae). In Asian countries, certain Scleroderma are used as biological control agents against wood-boring beetles responsible for forest dieback. 

How can scleroderma be removed ?

These insects can be very small (1 to 2 mm) and very difficult to see. They are often found in bedding, books or folded linen.

1 - So it's best to start by changing and washing sheets, blankets, etc. at 60°C, then systematically treating mattresses, box springs and beds with our 4J insecticide diluted at 5%. To give you an idea, the 500 ml spray bottle will cover around 5 m² of surface area. Depending on your situation and the surface area of the rooms to be treated, you can opt for the same insecticide, but in concentrated form. In this case, you'll need to dilute it with 5% water in a spray bottle (i.e. 50 ml of pure insecticide for 950 ml of water).


2 - Secondly, you need to find out where the wood came from: firewood, recently purchased furniture, etc. (beetle larvae are the most frequent hosts of scleroderms). (furniture beetle larvae are the most frequent hosts of scleroderms) and act accordingly by eliminating the wood-boring beetles, the source of the scleroderms' life. Our margosa extract will help you combat these wood-eating beetles.

Margosa's main property is to make all treated surfaces unfit for insect consumption, so the insects either have to leave the treated area in search of food, or starve to death. Thanks to its broad spectrum and long duration of action, Margosa is effective in most infested areas. It can be applied by spraying or injection. Margosa blocks the development of larvae, disrupts the search for food and sterilises adult insects. Treatment should be carried out by spraying the wood or injecting it directly into the holes at a concentration of 2% for preventive use, or 4% for curative use.


And don't forget :  the presence of domestic scleroderma conceals an invasion of wood-eating insects. You'll have to deal with that too! Don't hesitate to consult our complete file on wood-eating insects.

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Source : https://www7.inra.fr -jacqueline Suzzoni-Blatger - Federal Institute for Research in Medical Entomology, Faculty of Medicine