State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500535
Other Carpet Beetles
There are three other common species of carpet beetles that can be
found in Michigan homes: the common, varied and furniture carpet
beetles. The adults of these three species are similar in appearance;
the larvae are nearly identical and difficult to tell apart. The adult
varied carpet beetle, is broadly oval and about 3 mm (1/8 inch) long.
The upper surface is tricolored with a varied pattern of white, brown
and yellow scales on the back.
The larvae of this species are more rather wide in proportion to the
length, and are slightly wider at the posterior end. They are about 7
mm (3/16 inch) long. In addition they have very thick patches of hairs
on the sides of the abdomen near the posterior end. The larvae can be
found in flour and spices, as well as in woolens, silk and other items
of animal origin.
The length of the life cycle may vary quite a bit but usually it takes
about one year to develop from egg to adult.
The adult common carpet beetle, looks similar to the other carpet
beetles, but can be distinguished easily by the continuous series of
bright brick red scales down the center of the back (the inner margins
of the two wing covers).
The larvae look very similar to the varied carpet beetle. The larvae
can be found in places similar to those in which the varied carpet
beetle is found. The life cycle may be as short as 2 1/2 months, or may
take up to a year or more.
The furniture carpet beetle, often attacks upholstered furniture. The
adult furniture carpet beetle is very similar to the varied carpet
beetle, being covered with yellow and white scales, but the individual
scales are very broad. (Those on the varied carpet beetle are very
narrow.) While they are common on upholstered furniture where they feed
on hair, padding, feathers and woolen fabric they also commonly feed on
woolens, carpets, fur, bristles, horns, and fabrics (wool, silk, linen,
cotton, rayon and jute) - especially if these are stained with animal
excreta or blood.
Integrated Carpet Beetle Management
The best way to combat carpet beetles is to prevent them from becoming
established in the home. The best weapon is the vacuum cleaner. Rooms
should be cleaned often enough to prevent the accumulation of hair,
lint and other carpet beetle fodder. This is especially important in
households that have pets indoors. Close attention should be given to
carpets (especially under furniture), rugs, draperies, upholstered
furniture, closets (especially where woolens and furs are stored), heat
radiators and registers and associated duct work, corners, cracks,
baseboards and moldings, and other hard-to-reach areas. Open containers
of dried foodstuff and pet food should be regularly inspected for signs
of carpet beetles and discarded if contaminated.
Launder or dry clean clothing or fabrics that are going to be stored
for a period of time (e.g., woolens stored for the summer and old
drapery you just cannot throw out until you try to unload it at next
summer's garage sale.)
If used properly, mothballs are effective in protecting stored
articles. Mothballs should be placed between two pieces of paper and
layered into the articles being stored. Place layered articles in a
chest or box that can be sealed tightly. CAUTION: mothballs are known
to melt some plastics. They should not be used in plastic bags and may
damage plastic buttons.
Cedar chests a re only effective in preventing carpet beetle damage if
they can be sealed tightly. CAUTION:cedar
oil loses its repellent qualities over time and chests will need to be
recharged with a coat of cedar oil periodically.
Remove and dispose of abandoned nests (birds, wasps and hornets,
squirrels) from eaves, wall voids and attics. Follow up maintenance
should be done to exclude future nesting in these locations. If you
have a cat that hunts and brings its pre home to eat it, the remains
should be promptly disposed.
Controlling established infestations of carpet beetles begins with a
thorough inspection of the premises to determine the extent of the
problem. Next, perform all of the sanitation and preventative measures
outlined above. This will eliminate food sources and most of the life
Application of an insecticide registered for indoor use may be
warranted to control an established infestation in carpeting and
upholstered furniture. These items should be thoroughly cleaned before
any insecticide is applied. CAUTION:
certain fabrics and yes can be affected (staining or running) by
certain formulations of insecticides, so test a small, hidden area with
the product before applying it. The insecticide should be applied as a
fine mists to carpets. If the furniture cannot be removed until the
spray dries, place a small piece of foil between furniture legs and the
carpet to prevent staining. IMPORTANT: great care should be taken not
to allow children and pets onto the treated area before the insecticide
has dried. Be sure to read the insecticide label before using any
pesticide and follow all safety precautions stated on the label.
For a complete listing of suggested control option for all home, yard
and garden insect pests contact your local Extension Service, found
under local government in the phone book.
Read and follow instructions on the pesticide label. Heed all warnings.
Check with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your
personal health risk.
Revised by Tom Ellis, M.S., Department of Entomology
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status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
information.was reviewed as
of June 2008. For more information about the contents please
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