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Carpet Beetles & Clothes Moths

Carpet beetles and clothes moths can become serious pests in the home because the larvae of these insects feed only on materials such as wool, silk, hair, bristles, feathers and fur.  You can keep them from becoming pests in your home by knowing where to look for them, how to recognize them, and what actions to take to protect your belongings from them.  In this article, you will learn a little of the biology and habits of these pests, as well as what products to use in carpet beetle and clothes moth elimination.

Carpet Beetles    Clothes Moth   Control of Beetles & Moths

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Several species of carpet beetles enter houses.  The adult black carpet beetle is dull black with brown legs.  Adults of other species of carpet beetles are mottled with white, brown, yellow or black.  Carpet beetle adults are about one eighth of an inch long.  They fly readily and are attracted to light.  Many of the adults feed on flower pollen.  Carpet beetles breed and feed outside on dead animal material and in bird or rodent nests of dropped feathers and hairs.  Old wasp nests under eaves and in attics may also serve as carpet beetle breeding sites, since wasp skins provide a suitable food source.

A female carpet beetle lays about 100 eggs that hatch in a week or two.  The black carpet beetle generally has only one generation a year, but other carpet beetles may have as many as four generations a year.  Developmental time may take longer if food is scarce.  The larvae begin feeding as soon as they hatch.

Carpet beetle larvae are carrot-shaped with tail bristles.  Black carpet beetle larvae may grow to be one half inch long, are dark yellow to brown and have long tail bristles.  Other carpet beetle larvae are generally about one fourth of an inch long, stubby and are covered with dark bristles.  Carpet beetle larvae may crawl from place to place and may be found on items on which they do not feed.  Unlike the adult beetles, the larvae avoid light and prefer to live in undisturbed places.  Larvae are often attracted to soiled fabrics (such as clothing soiled with body oil or perspiration) and cracks and crevices where lint, food crumbs or dead insects accumulate.  Carpet beetle infestations can originate from old wasp nests or dirt nests made by mud dauber wasps.  Carpet beetle larvae may also feed on stored cereals, dry pet food and wool piano felts.

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Clothes Moths

Two species of clothes moths are of primary importance in homes: the case-making clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth.  Adults of both species are buff-colored with few distinguishing marks and look very much alike.  They do not feed and are not attracted to light.  Female moths lay from 100 to 150 small, pinhead-sized, white eggs which hatch in about five days.  Full-grown larvae are about one third of an inch long.  Larvae stage varies from six weeks to several years.  Larvae of the case-making clothes moths live in silken cases which they drag with them.  As the larva grows, so does the case, until finally the case is converted into a tough cocoon in which the pupa develops.  The moth emerges in one to four weeks.  Clothes moth larvae feed on wool, wool blends, feathers, fur hair, dry milk powder, leather, other animal products and sometimes on lint, dust or paper.  Clothes moth larvae do not wander like carpet beetle larvae so look for them on materials on which they feed.

Eliminate carpet beetle and clothes moth infestations

  • Locate the source of infestation.  Look in places where carpet beetle and clothes moth food is likely to be found .  Check corners, under furniture that has not been moved for a long time, behind baseboards, etc.  Carpet beetle larvae tend to wander, so consider sites in addition to the place you first found larvae.
  • Remove old bird nests, and any wasp or mud dauber nests from around the home.
  • Clean up or eliminate the source of infestation.  Good housekeeping is as important in preventing carpet beetle and clothes moth infestations as it is in control.  Your vacuum cleaner is often your best pest management tool.  Pay close attention to areas where lint accumulates (corners, baseboards, shelves, etc.).   Be sure to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag after you clean.   Clean or dispose of infested clothing, cloth, blankets and other fabrics.   Freeze-treat small items such as ornaments and fur toys by placing them in the home freezer for a week.  Periodic brushing and sunning of stored fabrics is helpful in prevention and control.
  • Store fabrics that contain wool or other animal fibers only after they have been brushed and cleaned.  Storage in tightly sealed chests or storage closets is recommended.  Cedar chests provide protection only for fabrics that are initially free from carpet beetles and clothes moths.  Moth crystals, flakes or balls can be used as noted below.
  • Treat with a recommended insecticide. See our Clothes Moth Elimination Kit
    However, chemical treatment will not be effective if proper cleaning is not done first.
      Chemical sprays should be used only for spot treatment of cracks and crevices, along baseboards and other areas where clothes moth larvae and carpet beetle larvae are most likely to crawl or encounter your pesticide.  A professional insecticide that is labeled for carpet beetles, fleas and clothes moths will be water-safe for fabrics such as upholstery and carpets.  Suspend SC is the best insecticide for carpet beetles, clothes moths, spiders and scorpions.  We also recommend the use of Suspend SC because it is odorless, non-staining, has an excellent residual and controls a wide range of household pests.  In areas inaccessible to pesticide sprays (small cracks & crevices, wall voids,) Drione Dust should be applied for heavy or stubborn infestations.  It is very important to apply Drione Dust at wall/carpet junctures, behind baseboards, beneath furniture, inside cushions of couches & chairs -- all areas where sprays cannot reach and where all stages of pests are hiding and breeding!
  • Inspect possible food sources regularly.  Regular and thorough inspection and cleaning are of utmost importance in prevention and control of carpet beetles and clothes moths.

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Summary of Controlling

Carpet Beetles and Clothes Moths

Proper inspection and sanitation are the keys to enhancing your pesticide application.
For hard to reach areas or severe infestations, Drione Dust should be applied.

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