Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Carpet beetles - cute, but ...

... I don't want them in my carpets. Nor in my sweaters. And definitely not in my insect collection.

I dusted and vacuumed my collection corner today, and later found this beetle walking up the wall. It was just a dot, like a fleck of dust, but when I looked closely, I could see a hint of legs. A varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci.

carpet beetle
About 2 mm long, very active.

These, up close, are attractive beetles, with the tortoise-shell markings and the nicely rounded back. They fly readily, and enter houses through any tiny crack. In this stage, the adult, they do no damage, as far as I know. Except that they lay eggs.

carpet beetle
Beetle flipped over on his back. Not happy about it.

Actually, the eggs aren't a problem, either. Except that they hatch in a couple of weeks, and head directly for the goodies.
Food: The larvae of this pest will feed upon a great variety of animal and plant products, such as carpets, woolen goods, skins, furs, stuffed animals, leather book bindings, feathers, horns, whalebone, hair, silk, fish manure, and dried silk worm pupae. Also it will attack plant products such as rye meal, cacao, corn and red pepper.
(From PestControl Canada.)
Well, they're welcome to any dried silk worm pupae or fish manure I have around the house (none), but not to my book bindings, nor anything else on that list.

Here's the larva I found in my laundry basket a couple of months ago, munching on a woolen blanket.

carpet beetle larva
Question; do two adult carpet beetles, two larvae in 4 months constitute an infestation?

Question number 2: how do I get rid of them?

From PestControl Canada, again;
Carpet beetle controls include eliminating the beetles by cleaning or destroying infested items (clothing, food products, etc.). Often, the source may be difficult to find or there may not be a single source. A major part of carpet beetle prevention and control is thorough vacuum cleaning to prevent the accumulation of lint, hair, and other carpet beetle food materials. ... Pay close attention to areas where lint accumulates (corners, baseboards, shelves, etc.). Be sure to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag after you clean. Clean or dispose of infested clothing, cloth, blankets and other fabrics. Freeze-treat small items such as ornaments and fur toys by placing them in the home freezer for a week. Periodic brushing and sunning of stored fabrics is helpful in prevention and control.
Store fabrics that contain wool or other animal fibers only after they have been brushed and cleaned. Storage in tightly sealed chests or storage closets is recommended. Cedar chests provide protection only for fabrics that are initially free from carpet beetles and clothes moths. Moth crystals,flakes or balls can be used...
I noticed today that the vacuum cleaner I have been using does not deal very well with the edges, at the baseboards. And that's where the eggs will be. Looks like I'll have to dig out the old monster with the good crevice tool.

I may be bug-tolerant, but I do have my limits.


  1. I love your closing line.

  2. Brilliant pictures of tiny things, as usual.

    My daughter found one on the carpet tonight. "I found a tiny bug!"

    Yikes. I have seen the damage the larvae can do. Tomorrow will be a vacuuming day, using all the attachments.

  3. Thanks, Jean and Hugh.

    Today was a vacuuming day for me, too. And a moving furniture day. A crawling under the desk day. I hope I've got them all.

  4. Anonymous7:38 am

    hi there-i live in apartment with 4 cats (i KNOW!!) and my apt. facilities guy said that these beetles many times come in with your dry cat or dog kibble!! i do see them in my kitchen alot, thought it was the new apt!! but maybe i brought them with me. i'm getting out the vacuum this weekend. good luck everyone, and thanks for all the info. 2 custom made wool jackets wrecked--it's WAR now! =)

  5. Hi, Trace!

    Cats are good. So what if carpet beetles like their fur? I think they're welcome to it.

    But wool sweaters and jackets, now ... No.

    I shake all my woolens in use out every few weeks. The ones not in use at the moment go into plastic bags, well sealed.

    I read recently that there's not a house in the world that doesn't host a carpet beetle. They fly in the windows and doors and vents; your next-door neighbours have them. So much for eradicating them. The best we can do is to keep their numbers down.

  6. Anonymous9:43 pm

    um, gross but myself, i just spent probably 5 hours researching these things. i have found them, like alot of people, around the baseboards and where the wall meets the floor or counter. i have also found many in my washroom which is strange because things in there are moved around a lot and there is a lot of light. i also clean it out often. ugh...

  7. I've been finding an occasional one coming out of the cracks in the baseboard behind the laundry basket. I've cleaned the laundry basket thoroughly several times since I saw the first one, but the beetles must have laid their eggs back in the woodwork where I can't get at them.

    All I can do is keep a close eye on the area around the baseboard, and squash every single one as it comes out. Good thing they're slow-moving!

  8. Anonymous6:42 pm

    Thank you for the outstanding posts

  9. Anonymous11:54 pm

    Great job! Do you think blow drying the area with hot air might work? I heard they hate the heat.

  10. Anonymous: possibly. Worth a try, anyhow.

  11. Thank you for posting this, great information that has given me hope and insight. My husband and I are new to these things and had no idea we could do something about them.


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