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Introduction

The black carpet beetle is a serious yet all too common household pest. Their larvae eat almost any type of clothing or animal product such as:

  • Leather

  • Wool

  • Silk feathers

  • Hair

  • Dried meat

  • Dead insects

  • Dried plant material

These destructive pests will eat through just about anything in your house.

Recognition

Black carpet beetles are about 2.8 to 5mm long and are black or reddish brown in color. They are covered with short hairs. They have 3 sets of legs and a pair of short antennae on their head. The larvae are approximately 12 mm long and are elongated, carrot-shaped, and golden to chocolate brown in color. They have a tuft of very long, curled, golden-brown hair at the tail end of their body.

Biology

Black carpet beetles have four different life stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. The eggs are usually laid near or on a food source, like clothing or carpeting, in the lint around baseboards, ductwork of hot air-furnace systems and many other similar protected areas. This little pearly-white egg hatches in about 6 to 11 days in warm weather, but can take up to 16 days if it’s not warm enough. This egg hatches into a larvae.

Staying in the shadows and out of the light, they spend their time eat things like dander, hair and other small protein sources. This is when we encounter the most issues with this pest. The larval life span is anywhere from 258-639 days, depending on surrounding temperature, food and moisture conditions. As the larvae grows, it can molt anywhere from 5 to 20 times.

The larvae pupate in the last larval skin, and pupal period may extend from 6 to 24 days. Then, the beetles may remain in the partially shed pupal skin from 2 to 20 days before emerging. Black carpet beetles commonly overwinter in the larval stage.

Once the pupal stage is over and the adult beetle emerges, they live for about 2 -8 weeks. During this time their habits change completely. They are actually attracted to light and eat only pollen. They head outside to find a mate. After the mating process, the females then search for the perfect dark, warm spot to lay their eggs. The females start laying eggs on potential larval food in dark places less than a week after emergence. The average egg count is 50 per female, but they can lay anywhere from 52 to 114 eggs at a time, beginning the life cycle all over again. The female commonly dies a few days after laying her eggs.

Habits

In each stage a black carpet beetle’s habits are different. In the egg stage, they can be found in dark and secluded places in close proximity to a natural food source.

In the larvae stage, they are usually still found in dark places among their food. They only move around when a food source diminishes. Their preferred food can be anything that has an animal base in its manufacturing.

The beetle stays dormant in a dark and discreet area for its pupal stage.

Adult black carpet beetles are usually found seeking light around windows or outside in warmer weather near flowers seeking pollen to eat. Near nests of birds, rodents and insects such as wasps and spiders are also places to see adult black carpet beetles. After mating in the summer sun, these tiny destructive pests look for a dark and warm place with a food source to lay their eggs. This is when the often end up inside your home.

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Prevention

Here are a few things that you can do to help minimize your exposure to black carpet beetles:

  • Keeping your off season clothes sealed in air tight plastic containers

  • Keep your house clean of clutter and vacuum the carpets frequently.

  • Dust and clean baseboards regularly

Control

The key to controlling black carpet beetles is to find the primary source of the infestation and eliminate them. We will treat potential entry points and eliminate these unwanted guests from your home as safely and quickly as possible.

Sources

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/black-carpet-beetle
http://www.colonialpest.com/carpet-beetles-show-up-in-the-spring/

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