Carpet Beetles are a fairly common pest. We receive many calls us about this insect. Though these insects will do damage to fabric, they may be a pest in food products as well. Carpet beetles occur naturally outdoors and come into building from there. They may enter through improperly sealed or improperly screened doors and windows.
There are two basic groups of Carpet Beetles: the Black Carpet Beetles and Varied, Common and Furniture Carpet Beetles. The adult Black Carpet Beetle, as the name suggests, is black in color and oblong shaped and ranges in size from 1/8" up to 3/16" in length. The other three, though about the same size, will have a variety of different wing color patterns and are somewhat more oval in shape. Carpet Beetles go through complete metamorphosis which includes egg, larvae (crawling stage), pupae (cocoon) and adult (beetle).
Larvae of Carpet Beetles are fairly distinctive. They are quite hairy and are striped tan and white in color. There may be tail bristles (hairs) visible at the back of the insect as well. Inspection commonly reveals either live larvae or sometimes cast skins of the larvae. It is this stage of the insect that actually ingests the fabric or food.
Carpet Beetle larvae may damage carpeting, clothing, hair, fur and animal hides. They will also feed on dead animal carcasses. As stated above, they may also be found in food products including milled products such as pastas, cereals, nuts, etc.. Most homeowners spot the larvae crawling along a surface somewhere. They will wander about in areas away from where they feed. They will chew irregular holes in fabrics including carpeting, but often feed at the nap of the fabric without eating the base threads.
A common food source for carpet beetles may be pet hair. In areas around or behind furniture, accumulation of pet hair may provide ample food for this pest
Although one may find beetles as well as larvae, we frequently see larvae being brought to us as specimens. Cocoons are rarely found as they tend to blend in with the fabric, making them difficult to spot.
Dealing with the Problem
These insect may be difficult to control. You can discard affected items or have them dry cleaned as needed. If a significant number of garments have been affected, ask the dry cleaner about a bulk rate. Removal of pet hair or fur with thorough vacuuming is helpful in reducing possible food sources for the larvae. Carpeting may be dry cleaned as well. You may want to dispose of the vacuum bag afterward as a precaution.