Carpet beetles may have been one of the most important pests in North America. Originally, it is believed that they from Europe, however, its presence in the United States suggests that they might actually be a native to the United States. They are beetles are just like their name suggests. Their primary damage is done to carpeting and fabrics of animal fibers (furs, silk, feathers, etc.) and heavy infestations can actually go undetected which causes significant damage to your clothes, furniture, and such.
Identification & Life Cycle
There are several different species of carpet beetles. Although there are several species and may have slight varieties of physical appearance, all the common species of carpet beetles go through a complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult) and have very similar shape. The life cycle will range from 2 months up to even several years.
The life cycle of a carpet beetle will begin when the adult female lays the eggs. Primarily, the female beetle will lay her eggs indoors in areas of infestation, however, they are not restricted to indoor environment. They can also infest nest of animals like bird nests, nests of rodents and even nests of other insects. A female carpet beetle can lay about 100 eggs at one time and will take about 7-35 days before they hatch.
Adults are oval-shaped beetles that range from about 2.5-5mm in length. The black carpet beetle, which is the most common species, are black in color. Other species may be lighter and more colorful with patterns on their backs. They are very compact in shape, having extremely little or no space between the prothorax (front of body) and the elytra (the hardened forewing that protects the hindwings – typically found on most beetle species and most commonly seen as the spotted red covering on Ladybugs).
It is actually during the larva stage that the beetles will cause the most damage because it is only during the larva stage that the carpet beetles will feed. Larva can also be considered as the caterpillar stage. They are typically bigger than the adults. For instance, the larva of the black carpet beetles can grow up to 8mm in length. They range in color of shades of brown and an apparent physicality of larva is that they are hairy. For black carpet beetles, they are only sparsely haired with hairs or a “tail” at the end, however, some of the other species of carpet beetles are fully covered in hairs. The reason why larva is also such a nuisance is because they will travel from room to room. This adaptation allows for a more rapid infestation inside the home. Also, larva can survive several weeks without feeding. They will then go into the pupa stage and stay in their cocoon for 14-20 days before they emerge when the weather gets warmer, typically in the spring and also during the summer season.
Habits & Damages
Carpet beetles will attack a wide variety of any animal-based material. These include wool, fur, silk, feather products, and even leather. Therefore, such items like sweaters and coats, comforters and blankets, furniture, and etc will be infested. Also, infestations may come from nests of animals or in the fur of carcasses of pests in the wall voids or attic. They will also feed on seeds, pet food, or other grainy products. Because they prefer to feed in the dark, infestations will be common in areas that are undisturbed. These areas are areas where wool and furs are stored, so they will be in areas like closets, attics, or edges of carpeting and rugs. Also, because they will sometimes feed on food products, you may find infestations in the kitchen or pantry.