Adult carpet beetles are about an eighth of an inch long, and round in appearance. The backs of the insects have much the same color scheme as the larvae. The larvae have small, hairy, soft bodies about a quarter inch long, depending on the instar. The larvae feed on a wide variety of foods, including carpets, furs, woolens, skins, stuffed animals, leather, feathers, silk and many plant products. The adults feed on nothing except pollen and nectar from flowers outside.
In spring and early summer, the adult will lay up to a hundred eggs, usually cemented to the product, or on furs, woolens or any dried natural or animal material. The eggs hatch in about three weeks.
The larval stage can withstand a long period of no food, and can molt as many as 30 times. They also prefer clothes or fabrics soiled with perspiration, body oils and urine. As with Black Carpet beetles, the adults will pupate in the last larval skin and use the last skin to hide in for as long as a month.
Prevention and Control:
Several steps can help limit the occurrence of carpet beetle infestations. Regular cleaning of spilled food and accumulated lint eliminates primary breeding sites. Store food, woolens, furs and other susceptible items in insect-proof containers to prevent access by the larvae. During warm months, the adult beetles can be largely excluded by using screens and sealing other openings.
When a carpet beetle infestation is suspected, closely examine preserved animals or hides for live larvae or cast skins, as carpet beetles frequently infest these objects. Check all areas where lint, especially dog or cat hair, tends to accumulate: areas under carpets and along carpet edges; under seldom-moved furniture; in floor cracks, registers and ducts; and in folds of upholstered furniture. Check stored woolen clothing, flannel and woolen yarn in attics, basements and closets. Look through food products stored for long periods without use. Other possible breeding sites are old animal or bird nests that may be in the house, and collections of dead insects around windows.
When you find the source of the problem, remove and destroy the infested material if possible. Objects which cannot be discarded should be treated to kill eggs and larvae. Store small items in a freezer for 48 hours or heat-treat them at temperatures above 120 degrees F for several hours. Dry-clean infested clothing. Put infested nonfood materials in a plastic bag with a “pest-strip” for several weeks. Elimination of carpet beetles from large objects, such as furniture, may require the services of a professional pest control operator. Elimination of carpet beetles from large objects, such as furniture, may require the services of a professional pest control operator.
Thoroughly clean the house when carpet beetles are detected. Pay particular attention to areas where lint accumulates and move furniture occasionally to expose possible hidden breeding areas. It is sometimes necessary to treat infested areas with insecticides to eliminate residual populations of the insects.
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