The Variegated Carpet Beetle
I hate to break it to you, but you most likely have carpet beetles. In fact, some research says “all” homes have carpet beetles, but since I can’t prove that for sure…we will go with “most”.
So what exactly is a carpet beetle? These beetles are a common pest in Georgia and one of the only animals in the world that can eat keratin. Keratin is the protein found in hair, nails, wool, and the epithelial cells of the skin. These insects are about an eighth of an inch long and the coloration tends to be black or a variety of dark colors on their back area. The babies, or larvae, are extremely hairy and have white and tan stripes.
How do we know the carpet beetle is present? Carpet beetles are very small so it is unlikely we will see them although it is still possible. The eggs are also difficult to spot, and the cocoons have colors that tend to blend in with the surrounding fabric. So, all this being said, we are not likely to see this pest visually, but the results of their presence will be the evidence. Most people notice carpet beetles in the fall or early winter when they pull out their favorite wool sweaters and find small holes. Many times, the culprit is a carpet beetle and not the usually suspected moth. But clothing is not the only place we have problems with carpet beetles.
Our family once purchased a home with wool carpet. We were lucky enough to not encounter the little pests, but other homeowners have not been so fortunate. One unhappy family installed a wool carpet only to find thousands of carpet beetles a few short months later. Another oddity these pests enjoy is taxidermy items. We have a customer with a very unique and expensive collection of taxidermy items who found, to his horror, they were being consumed by the little beasts. Lastly, they can be a food pest as well, consuming cereals and pastas.
Now we get to the important part: What are we to do about carpet beetles?
First of all, the primary focus is always on prevention. Keeping the beetles out is the most important thing to do. Keep your home tightly sealed. Check around your doors, windows, pipes, and wire entry points to make sure accessibility isn’t likely. A professional pest control company is most efficient with this process since the where, how, and when of entry is a bit of a science. Canton Termite and Pest Control are pleased to offer free inspections and estimates to our customers. Also, keep your doors and windows closed or use screens since the adults do fly and can enter through open areas.
Second in the line of prevention is keeping the food source away from the insect. Don’t invite them in, and if they get in…don’t offer a banquet!
Your woolen clothes need to be cleaned and put away after winter usage. The reason for this is that the beetles are attracted to body oil, sweat, and yucky food stains. For this reason, make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before storing them in airtight containers. The larvae of the carpet beetle eat hair (yours and your pet’s hair), dead skin, dead insects, and old food particles. Frequent deep cleaning is absolutely necessary to keep these pests out of your home. Don’t give them a reason to hang around.
And just so you know, my grandmother’s method of preventing damage to our woolen clothes didn’t actually work. Cedar chests nor mothballs will deter the little bugs. Sigh…but the good news is that careful cleaning and regular pest control will be the very best deterrent to an infestation of carpet beetles.
If you are concerned about carpet beetles or any other pest, call us at Canton Termite and Pest Control for a free inspection and estimate to protect your home.
Don’t forget, your spring cleaning should include washing and properly storing any wool clothes you may own.
Happy Spring from all of us at Canton Termite and Pest Control