by Doris Donnerman
(last updated July 26, 2008)
A pest that can cause millions of dollars worth of damage to homes and businesses, the carpet beetle is a scavenger that feeds on dry organic fibers. Found in homes and businesses alike, they also thrive in museums, destroying preserved specimens, fur, carpet, and fabrics. Sometimes confused with female lady bugs (beetles) because of their similar color, carpet beetles are distinguished by their carrot-shaped bodies. Adults do not feed on carpet, but their offspring do as soon as they hatch. Adult carpet beetles lay eggs on the food source—carpet—and the larvae burrow further into the carpet and begin to feed. As they grow, they also feed on soiled fabrics and dead insects. Once they reach adult status, carpet beetles will go outside, leaving telltale trails of insect carcasses around windows and door jambs.
Some victims of carpet beetle infestations report pulling carpeting back from the floor to reveal tiny, writhing larvae, and thousands of tiny beetles. If you feel that you may have a carpet beetle problem, follow these guidelines to rid your home of the destructive pest:
Once you find them, carpet beetles are not difficult to manage. If you remove all eggs and larvae, adult carpet beetles will not return indoors. During their fertile season, you may have to treat and vacuum, and re-treat and vacuum again, areas where carpet beetles like to lay their eggs.
To prevent their avenues of egress and ingress, make sure that doors and windows shut entirely, taking care to seal cracks where the tiny carpet beetle can slip through. Attic and basement windows are favorite entrances of carpet beetles, so take special care to seal those entrances entirely.
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