Fabric and paper pests may be one of the most common nuisance pests that have invaded homes all over the United States. The common use of wool or other fabrics made of animal hairs and also the lack of proper care and protection of these materials, highly attract these pests. Among them, carpet beetles, are one of the most common and will cause some major damage to even your more precious rugs or clothes.
There are several representing species of carpet beetles, however, there are primarily four species that will be the most common and cause the most widespread damage. These species of carpet beetles include the odd beetle, the common carpet beetle, the furniture carpet beetle and the varied carpet beetle. There are some minor physical characteristics that will differentiate the variety of species of beetles, however, most general physical characteristics will remain the same.
Adult carpet beetles possess wings that are usually longer than the body. When they are at rest, the wings are completely concealed by the elytra, which is the hard outer covering that conceals the wings and protects them from potential predators. The elytra is separated when the beetles are in flight and meet in a straight line down the back of their entire body. The bodies of carpet beetles vary, but the general shape is an elongated - oval shape to an almost circular shape. Many species of carpet beetles are often times covered with fur-like hairs or scales. The size of carpet beetles also vary within different species, however, they will typically be 1-12 mm in length. Colors also vary between species. Some species of carpet beetles are pale in color or pale with dark markings. Other species of carpet beetles are dark in color.
There is one particular carpet beetle species that does not look like any other carpet beetle. The male odd beetle has an elongated body with a pale yellowish, brown color. Unlike other carpet beetles that have short antennas, the odd beetle has a long and threadlike antennae. They also have fairly long legs. Although they are covered by their elytra, some odd beetles and all female odd beetles do not have wings.
True fabric pests all share one unique characteristic. They are all able to digest keratin, which is a protein that is found in wool, hair, fur, horns, feathers and etc. This is true for carpet beetles as well. However, a common misconception is that adult fabric pests cause the most damage to such fabrics as rugs, clothes, carpets and other upholstery. This is untrue. When you see carpet beetle damage, it is actually the carpet beetle larvae that causes the most damage due to their nutrition needs for maturity and development before they can pupate and eventually emerge as a full grown carpet beetle.
Carpet beetles are destructive to a variety of common items. Anything that is made of natural animal fibers can become subject to damage including items like wool products, silk products, fur products, or items made with feathers and etc. These natural animal fibers are more prone for carpet beetle attacks than synthetic fibers. They may also feed on food sources like dog and cat food or flour and cereal.
Sometimes it is not always possible to identify the damage whether it was done by a clothes moth infestation or a carpet beetle infestation. Generally, a homeowner can tell the type of infestation by the concentration of damage in one specific area. When a clothes moth infestation takes over, damage to fabrics are usually scattered and clothes are left with holes. Carpet beetle damage is more likely to be concentrated on just one section of a carpet or garment. Carpet beetles also leave behind a brown, shell like skin when they molt. Evidence of the shed coverings and also the lack of webbing will help a homeowner identify whether it is a carpet beetle infestation.
The most crucial step in carpet beetle control is prevention. Carpet beetles will most likely nest and breed outdoors in such areas like bird nests or rodent nests. Adult carpet beetles are able to fly. They can be seen flying and feeding on pollen. Flowers that are close to homes may attract carpet beetles and from that, they are able to easily enter homes through cracks and crevices or any other available entry ways. It is important to seal any cracks and crevices and use a residual liquid that will prevent carpet beetles from entering the home. Carpet beetles also enter the home by "hitchhiking" on materials that are brought inside the house. Eggs and nests can easily be carried in and the most common items that bring them inside are secondhand clothing, used or even new upholstered furniture, and other materials like rugs and quilts. Good sanitation and thorough inspections is key to preventing carpet beetles and will result in carpet beetle problem elimination.
The application of a properly labeled pesticide is necessary in areas of infestation. All areas that are infested should be thoroughly treated with a labeled aerosol or liquid concentrate insecticide. Crack and crevice treatment in the areas that are surrounding the infestation should also be considered for treatment. Moreover, a surface treatment with a labeled aerosol insecticide as well as spot treatment should be applied after infested materials are removed from the area for cleaning or disposal.
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