The black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) is the most frequently encountered and economically impactful carpet beetle in the US. This stored product pests’ common name refers to its all-black coloration. Many people experience an allergic reaction to carpet beetle larval hairs and blood. These beetles live all over the US, but they’re most common east of the Rockies and in northern states.
Black carpet beetles measure 1/8 to 1/4 inches long and look either dark brown or black. Their bodies are oval-shaped, and resemble shells. It’s difficult to see an adult black carpet beetles’ heads from above.
Black carpet beetle larvae are ¼ inches long, brown or reddish-brown, and “carrot-shaped.” Larvae appear to have distinct body segments and taper off, becoming thinner from head to rear. A distinctive, long tuft of brown hair usually protrudes from the end of the larva’s rear. Larvae may also look as though they’re covered in spines or bristles.
Black carpet beetles undergo a complete metamorphosis, hatching from eggs and undergoing larval, pupae, and adult stages. It takes the beetles anywhere between 2 months to 2 years to complete this cycle, depending on environmental temperature.
Female black carpet beetles lay an average of 50 eggs at a time. These eggs hatch into larvae within six to ten days. The beetles spend a majority of their lives as larvae, continuously eating and growing. black carpet beetle larvae molt 5 to 11 times and grow up to half an inch. After growing sufficiently, larvae pupate for 6 to 24 days. Upon emerging, adult black carpet beetles only live long enough to reproduce and lay eggs. They do not eat in the adult stage.
Black carpet beetle larvae are general feeders. They frequently consume animal materials including hair, fur, feathers, hides, horns, carcasses, and dead insects. Larvae commonly infest bird, rodent, and insect nests. They’ll also feed on plant material such cereal, stored grain, nuts, seeds, cayenne peppers, and processed foods such as flour.
Larvae often chew small, irregular holes into fabrics and chew through hair on fur materials. They’re also capable of burrowing through some packaging materials to infest stored food. Black carpet beetles will infest and feed on stored food continuously if you let them. The more they eat, the faster they can grow and molt. Upon reaching adulthood, black carpet beetles seek mates and deposit eggs in dark, secluded places near good food sources. They may lay their eggs on top of food sources like carpeting or stored food.
CONTROL AND PREVENTION
The key to controlling black carpet beetles is to cut them off from their primary food sources. Start by looking for areas around your building that may contain the remains of overwintering pests like cluster flies, boxelder bugs, mice, or even birds. Clean up these areas as thoroughly as possible. Make sure you wear appropriate safety gear, especially if you’re dealing with dead pests.
If you find beetles, larvae, or frass, you should remove it using a vacuum cleaner. Throw out the vacuum bag when you’re finished. Protect areas and food sources that may appeal to the beetles. Store food in airtight, hard plastic containers. Vacuum and clean carpet and fabric regularly. Clean up after every meal and don’t leave dishes sitting out. Eliminating their access to food sources is the best way you can prevent Black carpet beetle infestation.
First, a Plunkett’s technician will quickly remove all visible, accessible black carpet beetle breeding sites. We’ll wipe out both the larvae currently infesting your home and also any eggs that have yet to hatch. Technicians also make insecticide, spot, crack and crevice, and structural void treatments to keep beetles from sneaking back in. Our objective, as always, is to wipe out your current infestation and prevent future infestations at the same time.
If you think you have a black carpet beetle problem, don’t hesitate to call Plunkett’s right away. We’re always ready to wipe out stored product pests and help you feel happy in your home again.