Furniture Carpet Beetle

Order:  Coleoptera

Family:  Dermestidae

Species:  Anthrenus verbasci

Common name:  Varied carpet beetle

Comments:  This beetle is one of the most common pests of dry organic materials found in homes and warehouses.  It can feed on dry foods (cereal, grains, nuts, crackers, dry fruit, cookies, flour, corn meal, dry animal food, spices, etc.), natural fibers (wool in carpets, clothing, blankets;  cotton and silk clothing - most damage to clothes attributed to clothes moths is actually caused by these beetles), dried flowers, leather, animal hides and furs, taxidermy subjects, animal hair, etc.  These beetles can also infest mammal or bird nests in building voids as well as dry animal carcasses in building voids, attics, basements, and so forth.  

However, finding one or two varied carpet beetles in a home is no cause for alarm.  Varied carpet beetles are also found outside and frequently enter homes through screened windows and doors, as well as being brought in on firewood, boxes stored in garages, etc.  If numerous adults are found (often concentrated around window sills) or if any larvae are seen (these look like tiny, dark brown, fuzzy caterpillars, often crawling up walls), a search should be made for infested materials.  Infestations most often begin in areas where food is stored, particularly if bulk foods are often purchased and stored in non-air tight containers.  Dry pet food is another common source of infestation.  Wool clothing that is infrequently worn or wool blankets stored in a chest are also frequently infested.

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.

 

Figure 1: Furniture carpet beetle adult and larvae.

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.

 

Figure 2: Old skins of varied carpet beetle larvae.

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.


Information provided by the University of Colorado and Oregon State University.

Share this