Carpet beetles are one of nature’s decomposers. They are scavengers that feed on dry animal or plant materials. There are between 500-700 species world-wide. Most of these insects have an oval shaped bodies that are covered in scales. One of the most common species inside homes and businesses is the varied carpet beetle. These adult beetles are very small, 2 to 3 mm in length with scales that can be white, brown, yellow, or even grayish-yellow. The larvae of these insects look like hairy maggots/worms and are known as “woolly bears”.
These types of beetles, also known as dermestid beetles, are known to feed off natural animal material like furs, wool, taxidermy, natural fibers, hairs, and plant materials as foods. These insects can be used to eat the flesh off bones and are also a very important insect to forensic entomology. When we respond to calls, we often see that the beetles have gotten into taxidermy at museums, homes, or businesses. It is also common to see these insects associated with an animal carcass either outside the home or inside the home. These jobs can be quite challenging, because the customer will see the adults and larvae on the floor and clean them up, only to find another mess the next day. In these situations, a mouse or bird may have died in the walls and the beetles are feeding off the carcass. In other cases, a rodent might have cached food in the walls and the beetles are feeding off the stored food.
Treatments for Carpet Beetles
The best solution to eliminate carpet beetles is to find the source of the infestation. We will look for the animal or plant material that the beetles are feeding on. This will probably take some time and can take multiple visits, trial and error, and process of elimination. Sometimes, we might make a recommendation to cut a hole in the wall to pull a carcass. In other situations, it might make more sense to inject a suspected wall void with an insecticidal dust, if removal is not an option. In addition, an exterior inspection will be completed, and the technician will look for feeding sources and either remove them or make recommendations to do so. For the interior, a crack and crevice treatment can be performed with a general use insecticide to decrease, if not eliminate, the current carpet beetle population. Again, it is important to note that removal of the food source is key, and without removal, complete elimination might not be possible and preventative services might be necessary.
The goal of the problem should be elimination of the food source (animal and plant material) and the carpet beetles. Every situation is unique, and the food source removal may not be possible either because of inaccessibility or because it might not be financially feasible. The pest NOCO Pest and Wildlife Control technician will be able to set you expectations based upon your individual situation based upon their site inspection.