The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is a common stored product pest found all over the world. It’s particularly common in the midwest US. The name references the wide variety of colors found on the back of its elytra (wing covers). These colors give the beetle a distinctive spotted look.
Varied carpet beetle adults are 1/16 to 1/8 inches long. Their bodies are oval-shaped and black. Adults have a distinctive pattern of beige, black, yellow, and white scales on their pronotums (upper front portion of the thorax) and elytra (wing covers). The underside of an adult beetle’s body is covered with grayish-yellow scales. They may look slightly furry.
Varied carpet beetle larvae are about 1/8 to 1/4 inches long and pill-shaped. They’re tan or brown in color and covered in long hairs or bristles. Like other larvae, they appear to have distinct, caterpillar-like body segments. It can be difficult to tell one end of the larvae from the other, but the tail end tapers off slightly.
Varied carpet beetles exist in larval form for most of their lives, which are longer than most pest beetles’ lives. These beetles may remain in larval form for almost two years, depending on environmental factors. Unfortunately, the beetles also inflict all their damage during this stage of their development. The warmer and more hospitable the environment, the faster the beetle will grow and transform.
Female carpet beetles lay 35 to 100 white, oval eggs in cracks and crevices near a food source. These eggs hatch in one to three weeks depending on environmental temperature. After hatching, larvae find the nearest food sources and begin eating. Larvae undergo six to 12 instars before reaching pupation. Pupation occurs on the food source and lasts two to three weeks. Upon emerging, the adult varied carpet beetle immediately seeks mates and places to lay eggs. Adult varied carpet beetles do not live for very long after metamorphosing.
Varied carpet beetle larvae feed on a wide variety of animal and plant products. Inside, they frequently infest wool, carpets, furs, hides, feathers, horns, bones, hair, silk, fish meal, insect pupae, and dead insects. They may also infest plant products such as include rye meal, corn, red pepper, cacao, and cereals. They’re particularly fond of feeding on dried insect remains. Beetle larvae often bite small holes into fabric and other infested material. They also leave behind frass (droppings), shed skin, and other remains.
Varied carpet beetle adults are usually found outside during warm weather, often infesting flowers to feed on pollen. Female beetles often seek out bee, wasp, and spider nests as oviposition (egg-laying) sites. Indoors, adults often congregate around windows during the spring. When disturbed, larvae can stiffen their hair tufts and spread the bristles and hairs, forming a ball. Adults hatching from indoor pupae avoid or shun light until egg laying is mostly complete. Most outdoor adults show an attraction to light.
CONTROL AND PREVENTION
First, find out where varied carpet beetles are eating and keep them from getting to their food. Look for sites around your building that may contain the remains of overwintering or nesting pests. Look for cracks and crevices varied carpet beetles could use to access these areas, and seal them up.
Diligent sanitation practices are also very important for keeping pests away from infestation sites. Clean carpeting thoroughly, especially in secluded, dark areas where you may not spend much time. Keep dining and food preparation areas clean at all times. Never leave dishes out after meals or let crumbs pile up. If you happen to find beetles, scoop them up with a vacuum cleaner hose attachment. Make sure you throw out the vacuum cleaner’s bag when you’re finished.
When we treat for varied carpet beetles, we’re focused on two primary goals. Goal one: removing the current infestation. To do that, we track down all the areas where your beetles eat and breed. We’ll clean out all the beetles currently in the home and clean all infested materials.
Then, we work on goal two: making sure beetles can’t get back in your home. To do that, we figure out how they got in the first time. We’ll help you figure out how to seal off any access point beetles may exploit. Then, we may treat cracks, crevices, structural voids, and other at-risk areas with residual insecticide dusts or aerosols. These insecticide products will help prevent varied carpet beetles from coming back in or breeding inside.
If you think you have a varied carpet beetle infestation, get in touch with Plunkett’s Pest Control right away. The longer you have varied carpet beetles, the more entrenched they get and the more damage they can inflict. Let us know as soon as you find them and we’ll wipe them out.