Carpet Beetles

Areas where found:

The varied carpet beetle is one of the major pests of textiles, their success being attributed to central heating, which ensures a fairly stable temperature, combined with wall-to-wall carpeting. These two combined allows breeding more or less undisturbed.

Warm, dry and dark conditions are ideal for their development, adult carpet beetles live outdoors on pollen and nectar, (which is why birds and animals bring the eggs indoors or back to their nests). They can also be found wandering on walls and windows.

Carpet beetles thrive in situations where they remain undisturbed, for example beneath carpets, around skirting boards and in wardrobes. Bird and rodent nests, animal remains and dead insects are frequently reservoirs of infestations.

Larval forms can cause considerable damage to keratin-containing products such as wool, fur, leather, silk. Damage takes the form of clean, irregular holes and in textiles these generally occur around seams. There is no webbing or excrement present and by the time larvae are observed, considerable damage has often been done. Because of the large number of larval moults, when cast larval skins are seen they tend to exaggerate the extent of the infestation. Carpet beetles are of limited significance as a health hazard.


Varied Carpet Beetle

Mating occurs immediately after emergence, the females produce 20-100 cream-coloured eggs which are 0.5mm long, and have spine-like projections at one end. Over a period of 2 weeks these are deposited in suitable crevices, or stuck on to a potential larval feeding site by sticky secretions. In 2-4 weeks these eggs hatch to give the characteristic hairy, squat ‘woolly bears’. When mature, these are 4-5mm long, brown in colour and possess 3 bunches of golden hairs arranged in pairs on the posterior abdominal segments. The short legs are 5-segmented and well developed, with a single claw on the terminal segment. The larvae avoid light and curl up into a ball when disturbed. The length of the larval life depends upon humidity, temperature and quality of diet. Soiled commodities are usually preferred. During this time they generally moult at least 6 times, but the longer they persist the more moults occur. Pupation takes place in the last larval skin, at the site of larval development and lasts for 10-30 days. The adults live for 2-6 weeks, and are able to fly to the particular flowers on which they feed and search for egg-laying sites.

We advise customers to look around gutter levels for bird activity prior to our visit, due to the birds picking up the beetle eggs from flowers when they land to feed.