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Carpet beetles

By Les Harrison
Extension Director Emeritus  UF/IFAS  Special to The Star

In the heat of August, many area residents are spending more time in their homes and venturing outside only for required chores. In the heat of summer the lawn and landscape very active with the bugs, birds and other animals which make up Gulf County’s varied fauna.  

Unfortunately, there are some species which will invade the climate controlled residences with a destructive appetite capable of spoiling the artificial (and comfortable) environment. Carpet beetles are currently active and seeking new territory for foraging and conquest. 

Carpet beetles are a species which feed on several dry animal and plant products. These tiny and often overlooked beetles can damage fabrics, furnishings and clothing that contain natural animal fibers such as wool, silk, hair, bristles, fur or feathers.  

The natural habitats of carpet beetles are nests of birds, rodents, insects, and spiders. From these locations, they can easily spread into homes where carpets, clothing and other textiles will provide ample dining opportunities.  

Carpet Beetles are small, but in large concentrations can prove to be a problem when in a home. Varied Carpet Beetles are usually first noticed in window sills.

These pests also may feed on pollen in the wild and can be carried into the house on cut flowers. Outdoors, adult female beetles will search for spider webs and bee, wasp and bird nests containing eggs which serve as larval food.  

Varied carpet beetle adults, Anthrenus verbasciare, are about 1/8 inch in length with a dark body covered with white, brown and yellowish scales dorsally and grayish-yellow scales ventrally. In some older adult beetles the scales forming the color patterns wear off making these beetles appear solid brown or black.  

The varied carpet beetle’s life cycle is approximately eight to 12 months, but can be extended depending on environmental conditions and Port St. Joe and the surrounding communities offer ideal environmental conditions. The native habitat of this exotic invasive species is Europe, Asia and Africa.  

Additionally, there are several native species of carpet beetles. These live even longer, sometimes up to three years and eating all the time.  

Once a home is invaded the adult female beetles can lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch into larvae in one to two weeks. The larvae will develop under a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions.  

They tend to avoid light and actively feed in dark cracks and crevices which makes them difficult to detect. Their tiny size also makes them easily overlooked.  

The larvae wander considerably and may be found anywhere in a building. Most frequently they are scatted in cloistered locations such as closets, drawers or even inside upholstered furniture.  

The presence of carpet beetle larvae often initially detected by shed skin fragments and fecal pellets. This debris is about the size of a grain of salt and found around areas where they have been feeding.  

Adult carpet beetles are attracted to light and often are found on window sills or around flowers. By the time they are seen in clusters around a window, the damage is already underway.  

Hopefully, this season of heat and humidity (and all its other challenges) will not require the purchase of new clothes or draperies because of uninvited guests dining in. It is never a good time to be eaten out of house and home. 

To learn more about carpet beetles in the Gulf County region, contact the nearest UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/. To read more stories by Les Harrison visit: Outdoorauthor.com.