Dermestid beetles, or “carpet beetles,” as they are more commonly known, are considered insect pests within households. Carpet beetle larvae develop on indoor materials such as woolen items, fur, leather, silk, and of course, carpeting. These materials contain keratin, which carpet beetle larvae must feed upon in order to develop properly. So technically, it is carpet beetle larvae, not adults, that infest homes and damage indoor materials. Keratin is a fibrous animal protein that carpet beetle larvae are able to digest. Cotton and synthetic fabrics are rarely consumed by carpet beetle larvae, unless these materials are manufactured to contain keratin materials. Infestations can develop without homeowners noticing, allowing the larval pests to cause significant damage to many items that are commonly found in homes. When carpet beetle damage is noticed, the destructive larvae are not always seen given their tiny sizes, which range from one sixteenth to one eighth of an inch in body length. In rare cases, the eggs of these beetles are found before the larvae hatch, which leads many to believe that carpet beetles are solely indoor insect pests. However, carpet beetles generally live outdoors where they are able to locate numerous food sources.
Outdoors, carpet beetles feed on dead insects and dead plant matter, making them beneficial outdoor pests, but once they find their way indoors, the beetles become pests. Carpet beetle adults are effective flyers, and infestations often occur after adults fly indoors where they lay their eggs on keratin-rich materials. Infestations can be particularly difficult to notice when larvae feed below carpeting, and since carpet beetle larvae feed on animal furs, they often develop in obscured areas where animal hair accumulates, such as vents, air ducts and baseboards. When carpet beetle larvae are found indoors, their food sources must be located in order to eradicate infestations. In many cases, items that have been damaged by carpet beetle larvae are discarded, but if larvae infest valuable items, treating the materials with high heat or freezing temperatures is often effective.
Have you ever found carpet beetle eggs within your home?