Carpet Beetles in Humpreys County, TN

Found in west Humpreys County, TN about 1 mile from river. They reside in the wall of my house, specifically coming from one spot.

Robert

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Hi Robert,

It looks like you’ve stumbled upon some Varied Carpet Beetles, which are a common pest.  Also known as Anthrenus verbasci, these carpet beetles get their name from the varied colors on their back. While they don’t harbor diseases, sting, or bite, they can munch on your upholstery and carpet and create some serious damage in your home.

Entomologists especially don’t like these guys because they really like to eat dead insects. Many an entomologist has put away their insect collection for safe keeping, only to pull them out years later and discover carpet beetles have made a mess of their prized specimens!

Life Cycle

Varied Carpet Beetles belong to the family of dermestid beetles that like to eat dead insects, leather, natural and synthetic fibers, and feathers. Outdoors, the females lay their eggs in bird nests, beehives, and even spider webs. Why? Because these places will have plenty of feathers, or dead insects for their larvae to eat and grow up on. However, our cozy homes have become a nice spot for them to settle down in too! Inside, you can find them dark, undisturbed location or in storage areas where you keep clothing like wool sweaters, silk scarves, or other natural fabrics.

The eggs hatch into these furry looking critters that look like wooly bears. The larvae do most of the damage, chewing up your clothes and carpets. They will grow and shed their skin multiple times. The shed skins have fine hairs on them that can cause respiratory issues if you have a large enough infestation.

After the larvae grow big enough, they will shed their skin for one more time and turn into a pupa, the stationary stage of the beetle’s life. Inside the pupa, they undergo a change that results in an adult carpet beetle. The whole process can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years. The adults will only live for about 2 weeks.

BEHAVIOR

Varied Carpet Beetles can be found everywhere! They live on every continent except Antarctica, and have bothered homeowners for millennia. But it’s really the larvae that are doing the damage. They can be found in the oddest places. Many people who have musical instruments complain that their instruments that are packed away and never get played, will be infested with carpet beetles that have been feeding on the felt pads inside cases. This is why you should dust off those instruments every once and a while and practice!

Carpet beetle larvae eat a variety of natural fibers, including carpet, woolen clothing, furs, stuffed animals, leather, horn, hair, silk, dead insects, dead spiders, pet food, and as we said before, nests of birds, wasps, and bees. These guys really get around!

The adults and larvae like to stay hidden when they can, but sometimes you might find a beetle trudging through your dense carpet. If you find one or two beetles, then you probably should take some measures to make sure they don’t cause more problems.

MANAGEMENT

So, let’s say you have some expensive furs, silks, or clothes that you really don’t want to look like got blasted by a shotgun. Or maybe you’re like me and you have an insect collection that you’ve spent way too much time on and you don’t want it to turn into a pile of dust. Most likely you don’t, but pretend with me…

Well, there are two things you can do to manage carpet beetles. You can go on the offensive or on the defensive.

The offensive tactics are usually best when you suspect you might have an infestation. But, before you go all out on your pest control, you want to make sure you do have a problem in the first place. So, you’ll want to do some scouting.

You can place sticky traps in storage areas or places where you suspect the carpet beetles are coming from. You’ll want to check the traps at least once a week. The traps are also a good way of judging if your control efforts are working or not.

At this point, it might be a good idea to take out any stored clothes and wash them, dry clean them, or clean them out. If you are having problems with carpet beetles, finding the source of the infestation is critical. It may be a pain, but you’ll need to go through your closets or storage bins to locate where they are coming from. If you have taxidermy trophies, this could also be a source of beetles.

Once you find the source of the problem, you can either dry clean the item, freeze it for 3-4 days, or wash it in hot water. This will ensure you kill all eggs, larvae, and adults.

If you’ve been through all your stored items and still can’t find the source, the beetles may be coming from outside from a bird’s nest on or in your home. Finding the nest can help eliminate the problem too.

While cleaning is always the best strategy for control, there are pesticides that can be used to control carpet beetles too. You can apply the pesticide on carpet edges, beneath rugs, in closets, or areas that accumulate lent. It’s not recommended to use aerosol bombs or spray your items directly.

PREVENTION

Now let’s talk about defense. Prevention is really important to keep carpet beetles from making a mess in the first place. You can do that by properly storing susceptible items in air-tight, insect-proof containers. Adding moth balls or crystals inside the container can also be helpful. The vapors that come off the moth balls will stay inside the container and better protect it. Some people swear that carpet beetles hate the smell of cedar and think that their items are protected in cedar chests. However, the cedar oils aren’t really strong enough to repel carpet beetles.

Another thing you can do to prevent carpet beetles from getting in your home is to seal off any gaps or cracks around door or windows. Regularly cleaning and vacuuming your home can help too!

These strategies can ensure your furs, carpets, and stored items, like my insect collection, last for many more years, and don’t turn into a carpet beetles dinner!

Author

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