Carpet beetles refer to dermestids, a family of beetles common in North America. These pests are most commonly found in homes, museums and warehouses, among other areas where a sufficient food supply exists, and causing serious damage to carpets, fabrics, and furs as well as preserved plant and animal specimens and stored food like seeds.
Of all the identified beetles, three species cause the most damage in manmade structures.
– Anthrenus verbasci
Adult varied carpet beetles measure 1/10 inch length with a black body marked with irregular patterns of dark brown, white and dark yellow scales on their wing covers. As these insects become older, their bodies appear solid black or brown because of the fading in their patterns.
Outdoors, females will search for birds’ nests, spider webs and wasp nests to lay their eggs, said nests and webs of which will then contain dead insects, pollen, beeswax, feathers and other debris as food for the larvae. Indoors, females prefer wool carpets and rugs, animal skins and furs, woolen items, hair, dried plan products and leather book bindings, among others, for larval food.
– Furniture Variant (Anthrenus flavipes)
Furniture carpet beetles have a slightly larger and rounder profile than varied beetles. Their appearance vary but, in general, these beetles have a mottled appearance caused by the black spots punctuated by dark yellow, orange and white scales on their wing covers while the undersides are white. In older adults, their appearance change to almost solid black.
The diet and nesting habits of larval furniture beetles are similar to larval varied types.
– Black Variant (Attagenus unicolor)
Black carpet beetles distinctly differ from the two above mentioned variant especially in appearance. Adults measure from 1/8 to 3/16 an inch with full-sized larvae measuring 5/16 an inch. Adults have shiny black and dark brown bodies with brownish legs while the larvae are smooth shiny and hard with short, stiff hairs covering the body.
It must be emphasized that black carpet beetles are considered as a more serious threat than fabric pests because of their effects on stored products.
All of these insects share several similarities. First, their life cycles are similar. Second, the most damage occurs during their larval stage when the larvae feed on the stored products (i.e., spices and grains), pet hair, natural bristles, and feathers, among others. The good news: These pests do not feed on synthetic fibers.