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Occasional Invaders

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Carpet Beetle

Common Carpet Beetle

Color

Adults are black, and wing covers have an orange/red stripe down the middle. They also have a pattern of white and orange/red oval scales. Larvae are reddish-brown with black or brown hairs.

Carpet Beetle Characteristics

Get a haircut, kid. Larvae have a lot of hair. They are short and stout, widest in the middle. They also wriggle up and down when they crawl. Adults are oval-shaped, with compound eyes that are notched around an inner margin. One segment is much shorter than the other two. The underside of the abdomen has black patches of scales on each side.

Where Are Carpet Beetles Found?

Throughout the world, but they've got a sweet spot for northern U.S.

Where Do You Find Carpet Beetles?

Why build when you can buy used? Carpet beetles are thrifty. They simply move into places where other things have lived. Examples include wall voids, old rodent bait in attics and crawl spaces, and wasp or hornet nests.

A graveyard is suitable, too; they don't mind places cluttered with dead bugs and spiders. From May to July, they get outdoors to stop and smell the flowers, where they enjoy pollen and nectar, and mate. They like chipmunk, insect, and bird nests outside, and even just the dead bird itself.

What Do Carpet Beetles Eat?

Larvae eat anything and everything. Literally – wool, hair, bristles, feathers, silk, furs, dried plants, rye flour, wheat, clothing and fabrics, even your insect collection. Or your carpet. By the time they're adults, they get real picky and shorten their list down to pollen and nectar.

Carpet Beetle Biology

Females lay 30-60 eggs, usually in May through June, either indoors or in food for larvae. Eggs hatch in 10-20 days, and then mature in 6 instars (stages) in about 60-80 days. They pupate in the last larval skin, which is like their security blanket, as they hold on to it awhile. Pupation takes 1-2 weeks. Afterwards, adults stay quietly tucked inside the old skin for 18 days. Then, they suddenly become active for a few days to a month. Outdoors, ¼ of them overwinter as larvae, while the other ¾ overwinter as adults, still snuggled in their larval skins. Indoors, heated buildings keep them active through winter and spring. Total development is 77-110 days at room temperature, but can take up to 2 years.

Damage Caused by Carpet Beetles

Your carpets, fur and insect collections are not safe from these bugs! The hairs on larvae can cause pulmonary irritation from inhalation.

Carpet Beetle Invasion

Adults fly, and can easily get inside if they see something they like. And they like a lot of things.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

These insects infest both natural fiber items and items in your pantry. Thorough inspection is necessary to ensure all appropriate areas are treated. Preparation is necessary to achieve long-term control. Inspect and treat areas where the following items are stored: pantry goods, old cereal products, old pet food, fur coats, mounted animal specimens, natural fiber, and furniture or carpets. Other areas that should be inspected include under the dryer that collect lint and areas under furniture or along walls that collect pet hair. 

These areas should be vacuumed or cleaned before treating. Clean up any spilled pet food or old rodent bait used in attics or sub-areas. Use of residual liquid pesticides and dusts are recommended. Due to the thoroughness required during the treatment process, you may want to use a professional exterminator. 

Continued monitoring and possible additional treatments may be necessary. Contacting the insects with the material is essential to control. When using any pesticide, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions and precautions.


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