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Carpet beetles are found inside homes, warehouses, museums and other buildings. Once inside they may cause serious damage to clothing, furs, carpets and other stored fabric items. The DC Metro area is home to several common species of carpet beetle:
Varied carpet beetle
Common carpet beetle
Furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus scrophulariae)
The varied carpet beetle adult is black with an irregular pattern of brown, white and dark yellow scales on its elytra (wing covers). It is visible to the human eye at 1/8-3/16 inch in length. They look like small, miniature ladybird beetles (lady bugs) but with a black shell and yellow spots. Varied carpet beetle larvae appear brownish in color and appear to be “hairy” or “bristly.”
Black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor)
The black carpet beetle adult is dark brown to oily-black. The body length can range from 1/8 to approximately 3/16 inch. Black carpet beetle larvae are typically seen as having carrot-shaped, or elongated, bodies with a tuft of long bristles at the narrow end. Inside homes, carpet beetles typically deposit their eggs on or near wool carpet and rugs. A female carpet beetle lays around 40 eggs, which take 10 to 20 days to hatch. A female adult carpet beetle can live for 2 to 6 weeks, and a male can live for 2 to 4 weeks. Adults usually appear in spring and early summer. Indoors, they are often seen near windows.
Varied carpet beetles are not considered to be harmful to humans or pets. Carpet beetles are harmful to carpets, furniture and clothing and will often remain a nuisance pest. In rare instances, the bristles on carpet beetle larvae can create skin irritations, causing a sensation of being bitten.
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Because carpet beetles feed on natural fibers and particles, they are especially attracted to any or all the following:
Wool (including carpets, rugs and other woolen goods)
Animal skins and furs
Leather book bindings
They also eat dried plant products and silk plants. Inside homes, these “fuzzy” bugs are often found on the floor or around baseboards, in closets, beneath upholstered furniture and on the undersides of carpeting. Carpet beetles, like many other pests, enter the home from the outside. Adult carpet beetles frequent homes and buildings by entering through small cracks and openings around windows, doors, and from underneath siding. They will also use electrical lines and above-ground pipes that lead into the home.
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