Carpet Beetle

carpetbeetleAnthrenus, Anthrenocerus and Attagenus species

Family: Dermestidae
Order: Coleoptera

Identification:

Adult Carpet beetles are small with compact, oval rounded bodies. Legs and head not obvious, being often hidden under the body. Variegated carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) and Furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes) both 2-3mm long and mottled yellow, white and black. 'Australian' carpet beetle (Anthrenocerus australis) is similar in size, but dark with lighter markings. Black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) is larger (3-5mm), more elongate and black with brownish legs.

Larvae are short (4-7mm long, depending on species), brown and covered in bristles; they move slowly. As they grow they moult, leaving cast brown skins.

Distribution:

Widely distributed. Found inside homes and other buildings where food is available. Adult Anthrenus feed outdoors on nectar and pollen. Of the 4 species mentioned above, only Australian carpet beetle is native.

Life history:

Eggs are laid near food sources and larvae feed, often for more than 6 months, on the surface or inside the material. After a pupal period of typically 2-3 weeks, the adult beetles emerge in spring or summer. Anthrenus are sometimes found on the inside of windows as they try to fly outside. The complete life cycle takes 9-12 months.

Pest Status:

Larvae of Carpet beetles feed on dry materials of animal origin such as wool, fur, silk, felt, dried meat and carcasses. Carpets, rugs, underfelt, wallhangings, clothing, wool insulation and insect collections are frequently damaged. Variegated and Black carpet beetles are the most widespread and damaging species, although the others can be locally destructive.

Management:

If an infested article is transportable, remove and disinfest it by heat or cold treatment-leave it in the sun wrapped in black plastic, or deep-freeze it for 2 weeks.

Preventive measures are important. Vacuum-clean carpets, rugs, soft furnishings and upholstery frequently and thoroughly. Pay particular attention to low-traffic areas of carpets such as edges and under furniture. Washing and steam-cleaning, where appropriate, is effective. When susceptible clothes will be unused for a period (e.g. woollens over summer), clean them well and store in sealed plastic bags.

Possible obscure sources of infestation should be identified and either removed or disinfested. These include ceiling or pipe insulation, animal carcasses, birds' nests and pet bedding.

Chemicals registered for Carpet beetle control include dusts and surface- and space-sprays.

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