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Carpet Beetles Are Small, But Can Cause Big Damage

Carpet Beetles are small, but in large concentrations can prove to be a problem when in a home. These varied Carpet Beetles turned up in a Wakulla County window sill.

Carpet Beetles are small, but in large concentrations can prove to be a problem when in a home. These varied Carpet Beetles turned up in a Wakulla County window sill.

By Les Harrison
Wakulla County Extension Director

As contrite and well-worn as the statement is, springtime is truly the season of renewal and rebirth. The warming temperatures and ample rain, with last weekend’s precipitation being a little too ample in spots, has grass growing, birds singing, and shrubs blooming.

Most area residents are leaving their homes and returning to the outside activities which make Wakulla County so attractive to citizens and visitors.

While it is true there are some chores to accomplish in the lawn and landscape, most people are still enjoying the return to the numerous out of doors pursuits.

Unfortunately, there are some species in residence that have awakened with a destructive appetite capable of taking the joy out from this time of year. Carpet beetles are active and seeking new territory to conquer.

Carpet beetles are a species which feed on several dry animal and plant products. These tiny and often overlooked beetles can damage fabrics, furnishings and clothing that contain natural animal fibers such as wool, silk, hair, bristles, fur or feathers.

The natural habitats of carpet beetles are nests of birds, rodents, insects, and spiders. From these locations, they can easily spread into homes where carpets, clothing and other textiles will provide ample dining opportunities.

These pest also may feed on pollen in the wild and can be carried into the house on cut flowers.

Outdoors, adult female beetles will search for spider webs and bee, wasp and bird nests containing eggs which serve as larval food.

Varied carpet beetle adults, Anthrenus verbasciare, are about 1/8 inch in length with a dark body covered with white, brown and yellowish scales dorsally and grayish-yellow scales ventrally. In some older adult beetles the scales forming the color patterns wear off making these beetles appear solid brown or black.

The varied carpet beetle’s life cycle is approximately eight to 12 months, but can be extended depending on environmental conditions. The native habitat of this exotic invasive species is Europe, Asia and Africa.

Additionally, there are several native species of carpet beetles. These live even longer, sometimes up to three years.

Once a home is invaded the adult female beetles can lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch into larvae in one to two weeks. The larvae will develop under a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions.

They tend to avoid light and actively feed in dark cracks and crevices which makes them difficult to detect. Their tiny size also makes them easily overlooked.

The larvae wander considerably and may be found anywhere in a building. Most frequently they are scatted in cloistered locations such as closets, drawers or even inside upholstered furniture.

The presence of carpet beetle larvae is often initially detected by shed skin fragments and fecal pellets. This debris is about the size of a grain of salt and found around areas where they have been feeding.

Adult carpet beetles are attracted to light and often are found on window sills or around flowers. By the time they are seen in clusters around a window, the damage is already underway.

Hopefully, this season of renewal will not require the purchase of new clothes or draperies because of uninvited guests dining in.

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