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.
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.
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.
Summary of Controlling
Carpet Beetles and Clothes Moths
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