Named for their primary food source during the larval stage of development, carpet beetle larvae chew irregular holes into area rugs and carpets. While several species exist around the world, only three main species of carpet beetles are regarded as pests within Wisconsin: the common carpet beetle, the furniture carpet beetle and the black carpet beetle.
|Color||The coloration of carpet beetles plays a huge role in differentiating the various species. Some types of carpet beetles are solid in color, while others are multicolored. The most common shades include black, white, yellow and orange-red.|
|Size||Most carpet beetles measure between 1/8 - 1/4" in length as adults. Larvae can also be as long as 1/4".|
|Appearance||Oval in shape, carpet beetles feature vibrantly colored scales over their wing covers. The scales form distinct patterns that help distinguish between the different species of the pest.|
Adult carpet beetles mainly feed on the pollen and nectar of various flowers. The insects cause the most damage during the larval stage of the life cycle when the developing pests feed on wool, feathers, leather, fur, hair, silk, museum specimens, dead insects, and fabric of carpets.
Although adult carpet beetles can thrive inside or outside, females prefer to lay eggs where larval food sources are abundant. They prefer to feed in dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, attics, within boxes where woolens and furs are stored, along and under the edges of carpeting, underneath upholstered furniture, and in air ducts where they feed on lint, pet hair and other bits of debris. They can make homes inside the nests of birds or other animals or live in walls or chimneys, feeding on dead insects and animals.
A typical female carpet beetle will lay between 30 and 90 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs are deposited on or near a food source and take an average of three weeks to hatch.
Uniquely, carpet beetles spend the majority of their existence in the larval stage. Larvae may be active for a period as short as two months or as long as two years, depending on factors like temperature, food quality and humidity. During this time, the pests go through 6 to 12 instars on average.
Adult carpet beetles remain in the last larval skin for a brief period before reaching full sexual maturity. Some species begin to mate within a day of completing the entire life cycle.
The lifespan of adults ranges from two weeks to several months.
Signs of Infestation
Look for adult carpet beetles congregating on windowsills.
The most telling sign of a carpet beetle infestation is the damage left behind by the developing larvae. Carpet beetle larvae chew holes in clothes and other natural fibers often focusing on one large area of the fabric.
As larvae molt several times during development, the presence of light-brown, shell-like cast skins means that an infestation is nearby.
While it is common to spot one or two carpet beetles in the home on occasion, regular encounters with adults and larvae indicates an infestation problem.
When left unchecked, carpet beetle larvae can damage:
- Homes: Carpets, clothes, bed sheets, curtains, and various other natural fabrics in the home.
- Warehouses: The pests can also cause serious losses for fabric manufacturers by infesting warehouses.
- Museums: The dietary preferences of carpet beetle larvae may lead to the destruction of priceless artifacts.
- Rashes: The presence of the insects can result in the onset of dermatitis which causes an irritated rash to form on the skin of affected individuals.
Prevention & Control
The best way to prevent carpet beetles from infesting is to practice dedicated and good housekeeping including:
- Always check flowers before bringing them into the home.
- Wash or dry clean second-hand clothes upon purchasing the items.
- Clean out of season garments such as winter coats before putting them in storage.
- Promptly wash sweaters.
Vacuum: In the case of an established infestation vacuuming upholstered furniture, carpets and underneath furniture may effectively remove the pests.
Pesticides: Particularly tenacious infestations may require the application of targeted pesticide applications which should be handled by a pest management professional with the certifications and experience necessary to properly and successfully eliminate carpet beetles from the home.
If a carpet beetle infestation occurs, count on a professional pest management service to take care of the problem knowledgeably and successfully.