The carpet beetle causes havoc in households when they run rampant, feasting on animal materials, such as woolen fabrics. To protect your fabrics from holes and to keep carpet beetles out of your linens and food, follow these instructions for finding and eliminating the pesky carpet beetle larvae.
Identifying Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet beetles are only dangerous in the larval stage, but when you spot adults, larvae are somewhere to be found, although maybe not in the same area since the beetles may lay eggs and then move to a different part of your home. Four main species of the carpet beetle may be inhabiting your home and putting your fabrics at risk.
First, the black carpet beetle is the most abundant, causing the most damage to fabrics. The adults are a shiny black with brown legs and are about 1/8 inch in length. The larvae are dark brown to black, and they can molt up to 11 times, reaching up to ½ inch in length. They like to hide out in dark places like inside upholstery or under baseboards. They will remain in the larval stage from 9 months to 3 years. They tend to be surface feeders, consuming the nap of the fabric, but leaving most of the base threads untouched.
Second, the varied carpet beetle is quite a bit smaller than the black carpet beetle, and it can be identified by the yellowish-orange scales on its back. The larvae have 3 pairs of arrowhead shaped hair tufts on the end of their abdomen. The larvae will live for 7 to 11 months, reaching about ¼ inch in length. They feed on carpets, woolens, hides, horns, bone and other materials. Look for them also in the pantry, feeding on cornmeal, rye and other grains.
Third, the common carpet beetle is grey to black, with and orange-red streak down the center of its back. Their larvae are reddish-brown with brown or black hairs, remaining in the larval state for up to 70 days. They are known for attacking carpet, silk, fur, feathers, woolens and other materials
Finally, the furniture carpet beetle is infamous for feeding on upholstered furniture. The adults are blackish, but speckled heavily with white and yellow. Their larvae are oval-shaped and heavily covered with brown hairs.
Inspecting for Larvae
Search the dark corners of your home, especially in closets, under baseboards, carpet and door casings. Use a knife to scrape up lint and inspect it closely for the tiny larvae or their shed casings. Periodically search through boxes of old clothes that have been stored away, and where hair from your pet may have accumulated like in heating ducts.
Thorough and consistent housecleaning is an important aspect to prevention, especially if there are animals in the house as their shed hair can attract the carpet beetle. Besides regular carpet cleaning and vacuuming, keep fabrics in a sealed container with Insect Guard crystals.
Once your home has already been infected, there are numerous insecticide treatments available that can usually be sprayed in affected areas. Spray a fine layer, soaking the fabric or upholstery may stain it. If you are moving furniture out of a room to spray the carpet, place pieces of cardboard under furniture legs if you are returning it quickly back to the treated carpet. This will help protect against rust marks from metal furniture and other stains to your which will be difficult to remove. Finally, if your infested fabrics were kept at room temperature, placing them in a freezer may kill off the larvae. The larvae will only be killed if they are suddenly introduced to a large drop in temperature, as there bodies can acclimate to slowly dropping temperatures.
Protect your fabrics from carpet beetle destruction by identifying and elminating them quickly!