Friday, January 21, 2011

Carpet beetles...and other things

Exciting news to start off with- we are back in our office! While we're still unpacking, trying to move furniture and put things back together, it's still great to be back. It's a process, and each day brings us closer to I just need to find my desk!

So, I had someone drop a sample off this week and it turned out to be carpet beetles. Carpet beetles can be found outdoors on crape myrtles or shrubs or in bird and rodent nests. These cute little guys and gals can become a pest in the home under the right conditions. They seem to prefer dark, secluded areas.

Carpet beetle adults are small, round to oval shaped and often brightly colored. Larvae are small, tan and ringed with bands of long hairs.

Carpet beetles like high protein foods, usually animal based, but they can also feed on plant material. This often allows them to be found in a variety of locations throughout the home. In the pantry, you may find them in items such as powdered milk, dried meats (jerky) or pet food. Other areas of the home they can be attracted to items made from wool, fur or feathers, areas where dead insects accumulate (i.e. light fixtures), leather book bindings, hair, silk or dried plant products. Adults do not feed on animal products; they feed on pollen and nectar.

A program utilizing sanitation, exclusion and insecticides should be able to get a carpet beetle problem under control. Tip for carpet beetles:

  • Clean accumulations of hair, dead insects and bird, rodent or wasps nests
  • Regular cleaning of rugs, carpets, upholstery, etc. (make sure to get along edges)
  • Inspect animal based items (mounted trophy animals, leathers, wools, silks, etc.) once a year to avoid infestations
  • Store items in sealed, air-tight containers
  • Infested items (if possible, depending on the items) can be heated or cooled to kill any beetles- freeze 2 weeks at temperatures below 18°F or heat for at least 30 minutes to temperatures above 120°F
  • Insecticides should be used as spot treatments- make sure carpet beetles are listed on the label as well as the area/ item you are treating; make sure the product will not stain
For more information on stored product pests, see Pantry and Fabric Pests in the Home.