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As the climate warms during the early stages of the spring season, insects that had been lying dormant all winter begin to emerge, and these insects include the few insect pest species that are known for successfully overwintering within Massachusetts homes. These insect pests include brown marmorated stink bugs, boxelder bugs, western conifer seed bugs and cluster flies. In response to cooler temperatures during the fall, these insect pests gravitate into homes in massive numbers where they establish a winter-long harborage within wall voids and other dark and inaccessible indoor spaces.

Come spring, overwintering pests emerge from their hiding spots before making a frantic, and usually hopeless effort to reenter the natural environment. Carpet beetles are also known for overwintering within wall voids where they are known to feed on the corpses of dead overwintering insects all year round. Therefore, carpet beetle infestations last for long periods, but they make their presence known during the spring when they emerge in interior living areas where they feed on a variety of fabrics, especially animal-based fabrics like silk and wool.

While carpet beetles readily feed on any fabric containing keratin, they are also scavengers that will feed on a wide variety of materials, including human foods. Keratin is an organic compound found in all organisms, and carpet beetles rely on keratin as their sole source of nutrients. Keratin is found in human hair, nail clippings, lint, dead skin, and even sweat, and carpet beetles will feed on any fabric where these human products have collected, including furniture upholstery, clothing, and carpeting. Good housekeeping practices, particularly regular vacuuming, will prevent carpet beetles from making a snack out of carpeting. It is often said that mothballs repel carpet beetles, but this has been proven false; instead, residual insecticides should be applied to indoor surfaces where carpet beetles are most likely to make contact.

Have you ever struggled to eliminate a carpet beetle infestation?