Carpet Beetles are one of the major pests of textiles. The adult beetle lives outdoors and feeds on pollen, it is the larval stage that feeds on natural textile fibres. They will feed on, and damage, woollen fabrics, carpets and clothes, even wool/synthetic mixtures, but do not attack pure synthetic fibres. The success of these beetles is attributed to central heating, giving more uniform temperatures, and the increased use of fitted carpets. Damage is often found when heavy furniture standing on wool mixture carpets is moved because the larvae like the dark space beneath where they can remain undisturbed.
What do carpet beetles and woolly bears look like?
The adults are about 2-4 mm long. The colour is variable, brown or black and mottled with yellow or white marks on the back. The larval stage has a characteristic banded appearance, 4-5mm long and covered in short bristles. The larva is known as a Woolly Bear.
What is there Life Cycle?
The adult female produces 20-100 eggs over a two week period. These are cream coloured and about 0.5 mm long. They are deposited in suitable crevices or stuck onto a potential larval feeding site. The eggs hatch in 2-4 weeks to the distinctive woolly bear. The mature larvae are 4-5 mm long and brown with tufts of hair, especially at the posterior end. The larvae avoid light and curl up when disturbed. The larval stage can last up to 10 months, depending on humidity, temperature and the availability of food. In general, soiled materials are preferred to clean ones. Larvae hibernate over winter and pupation occurs in the spring where the larvae have fed. Pupation lasts for 10-30 days then the adults emerge. Adults live for 2-6 weeks and can fly to the flowers on which they feed, and to search for egg laying sites.
How do you get rid of them?
These insects have a wandering habit that makes them difficult to control. Any pest control treatment must be carried out as part of a programme to remove their habitat. The first step is for you to find and remove the source of the infestation. This may be an old bird's nest, animal remains and wool based insulation, lagging or the debris that accumulates between floorboards. All sources of infestation should be removed and, if possible, burned. Regular checking and cleaning are also important. You can treat infestations yourself with a residual insecticide. When treating carpets and other furnishings, it is very important to carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions to avoid causing damage. However, thorough treatment is essential to ensure that all larvae are destroyed.
Havant Borough Council does not offer a treatment service for Carpet Beetles. Private Pest Control companies will offer a treatment service for Carpet Beetles and you can find more information from your local telephone directory.