Carpet Beetles (Anthrenus spp)
There are 3 common species of carpet beetle, the varied carpet beetle, the museum beetle and the common carpet beetle; with the varied carpet beetle being the most common of these in the UK.
Adult varied carpet beetles are around 3-4mm long. They have a speckled appearance caused by scales on the upper surface which are black, white and yellow/brown in colour. It is these scales that give the beetle its variegated appearance and therefore its common name. Female adults lay between 35 -100 eggs in the larval foodstuffs, such as woollen products, silk, and leather or other animal products. Another common place they can be found is birds’ nests.
When the larvae hatch out of the eggs, they are light or dark brown in colour and are covered in tufted hairs and are known as ‘woolly bears’ because of these hairy tufts. Contact with these hairs can cause fairly severe irritations in some people.
It is the larvae that cause damage to materials and carpets etc containing natural fibres as this is their food source. In some instances, the damage they cause can be widespread. The larvae grow from around 1mm to 5 mm in length and moult several times leaving cast skins behind them. It is these empty casts that sometime make people think there is a larger population present than there really is. When fully grown, the larvae pupate and emerge as an adult beetle.
The adult beetles feed mainly on pollen from plants and flowers and this one way they can enter the home on bunches of cut flowers or plants bought in. They also enter the home though open doors and windows. They will also eat some dried goods such as flour or dried pasta.
Adult varied carpet beetles are usually found inside homes between around March to September and will live for around 4 to 6 weeks. The whole lifecycle from egg to adult can range from around 250 to 350 days, dependant primarily on the ambient temperature and food sources available.
A little-known fact is that carpet beetles actually cause more damage to carpets, fabrics and other materials than moths in the UK.
The good news is that carpet beetles are pretty straightforward to treat for any professional pest controller, but as well as treatment, it is important that the property is also checked to identify whether any birds’ nests are present, as they could be harbouring more eggs or larvae.
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