You probable protect your silks and woolens from clothes-eating moths, but they aren't the only insects that feed off fabric. Carpet beetles don't just snack on rugs and upholstery -- they also munch on natural fibers. Synthetics aren't safe, either, unless you never perspire or spill anything on your garments. Good housekeeping helps prevent carpet beetles from infesting your home.
Different species inhabit various parts of the country. In the United States, the most common types of carpet beetle include the black beetle -- also the most distinctive species. It's difficult to tell the difference between the varied, furniture and common carpet beetles, all of which have black, yellow and white spotting. While the black beetle matures at about 1/2 inch long, the other beetles are slightly smaller.
While it's easier to spot adult beetles, they aren't the ones feeding on your garments. Larvae consume those materials. Female beetles lay their eggs in areas with food sources for their offspring. While the larvae hatch from the eggs in just a couple of weeks, they remain in the larval stage for as long as three years before becoming adults. Larvae are adept crawlers, so they can move all over your house. Besides finding rips and holes in the items, suspect carpet beetle infestation if you see the brownish larvae, which sprout hair-like projections.
If you suspect carpet beetle damage, hire a professional exterminator. These creatures are often hard to locate, even for pest control agents. If one location is discovered, it's a good bet they're also hiding elsewhere in the house. Carpet beetles tend to congregate in ventilation systems, behind moldings and in other dark, secluded spaces in a building. They also turn up in pantries, as they eat dried foods.
You can prevent carpet beetle infestation by keeping your premises scrupulously clean. Put clean woolens in storage with mothballs for the spring and summer months. While mothballs deter carpet beetles, cedar chips do not. If you enjoy shopping at vintage clothing stores, wash or dry clean any garments before hanging them in your closet or putting them in drawers. Thoroughly clean any used upholstered furniture or rugs before bringing them into your house. Vacuum your dwelling regularly, including those hard-to-reach spots around radiators and heat ducts. If you find infested clothing or other materials, clean them immediately or throw them away.
- New Mexico State University: Preventing Damage from Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles
- University of Minnesota Extension: Carpet Beetles and Clothes Moths
- North Carolina State University: Clothes Moths & Carpet Beetles -- Controlling Fabric Pests
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Carpet Beetles
- University of California Riverside: Pests of Fabrics and Paper
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Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.