Carpet beetles are common insect pests of homes where they damage a variety of indoor fabrics and other valued materials. Carpet beetle damage is often mistaken for clothes moth damage, as carpet beetles frequently chew holes through clothing, especially dirty clothing that has become saturated with perspiration. Generally, however, carpet beetles eat away at carpeting, rugs, wool, leather, furniture upholstery, and any material containing the fibrous animal protein known as keratin. While carpet beetle adults are responsible for invading homes where they lay eggs, only the larvae that emerge from these eggs eat away at indoor fabrics.
Carpet beetles are considered economically significant insect pests due to their tendency to inflict property damage within homes. For example, back in 1962, a carpet beetle infestation within a New York man’s home saw the pests damage two antique armchairs, an 18th century tapestry and an imported carpet. The cost of restoring these items amounted to 2,000 dollars, which is more than 17,000 dollars today. Unsurprisingly, the man’s insurance company was reluctant to pay for the damage, which led to a lawsuit that reached the New York State Supreme Court.
Jacob Sincoff expected his insurance company to fully cover property damage inflicted by carpet beetles. However, the Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company rejected Sincoff’s insurance claim, as his insurance contract contained fine print stating that property damage inflicted by “vermin” would not be covered. When this case went to court, a pest control professional took the stand and described “vermin” as parasitic pests that live off of the human body, like fleas and lice. He further stated that carpet beetles cannot be considered vermin, as they feed on dead animal matter, and not on human blood. The insurance company’s legal team argued that carpet beetles should be considered vermin due to their habit of feeding on materials that are important to humans. However, this argument did not hold up, and the insurance company was ordered to pay for all carpet beetle-related damages.
Have you ever considered filing a lawsuit that involved insect pest issues?