Your Carpet’s Silent Killer

Your recent investment into carpeting for your home might mean that every room looks and feels like new. But a threat could be lurking which could cause the complete destruction of your brand new carpeting in just a few years’ time: the carpet beetle.

Otherwise known as the woolly bear and by its scientific name Anthrenus verbasci, the carpet beetle hatches in spring and early summer, feeding on the fibres it finds in carpeting and other materials like natural wool and the curtains in your home. Left to nature, a carpet beetle infestation can spread quickly throughout the home.

What Does a Carpet Beetle Look Like?

When in larval form, a carpet beetle is between 4 and 5 mm long, and has a hairy body with light and dark brown striping. At this stage, the carpet beetle’s front is narrower than its back, and can be identified by the three tufts on its rear abdomen, which it uses in defence.

The adult carpet beetle measures between 1, 7 and 3.5 mm long. The top of the beetle is scaled, with yellow-brown and white-brown colouring. Adults also have segmented antennae.

How Carpet Beetles Find their way Inside

While adult carpet beetles feed outdoors on nectar and pollen; the larvae tend to feed on foods found in the pantry such as animal food and seeds. Females will lay their eggs where an abundant food source for their larvae exists, and will enter the home through openings like doors and windows.

However, carpet beetles, due to their affinity for pollen and nectar can also enter a home via cut flowers and plants from the garden. Still others will live in animal nests, chimneys and walls and feed on insects and animals.

Bird nests are a common location for carpet beetles. If there is a tree located near an open window, it’s relatively easy for a carpet beetle to make their way into your home and your carpets.

Life Cycle and Fibre Preference

Carpet beetles can take up to three years to move from the larval to the adult stage. This is dependent on environmental conditions such as temperature and moisture. This means that, if larvae exist in your home, they have a lot of time as well as more than enough food such as carpet fibres and pantry items to sustain them.

Hatching in the spring as well as early summer, carpet beetles will continue to feed until they enter the dormant stage, which occurs just before the pupa stage in their development.

Carpet beetles in the larval stage prefer to dine on natural fibres like wool, from which many brands like Crucial Trading Carpets are made. However, they will also feed on synthetic fibres if these have been soiled by food, oil or perspiration.

When they mature and emerge between May and August, they cease to be a threat to carpets and other fibres, as the adult beetle’s diet is the nectar from flowers.

How To Eliminate Carpet Beetles

As long as it has been identified early enough and a thorough inspection conducted, carpet beetle infestations are relatively easy to treat. A full plan includes the application of a residual insecticide, along with regular vacuuming. For linens and clothing, dry cleaning and airing out is the recommended treatment.

It usually requires a few hours to spray a home for carpet beetles, and so it may be necessary to leave your home until the treated areas have dried.

Another way to rid yourself of carpet beetles is to prevent them. Checking lofts and eaves for abandoned nests and dead birds, and then removing them is one way to prevent an infestation. It can also help to ensure that any fluff or debris is cleared from carpeting, upholstery, shelves, floorboards and cupboards.