Living With Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetle

Carpet Beetle
Photo: Clemson University

Carpet beetles larvae are scavengers feeding on the skin and fur of dead animals. They have an important role as decomposers. Adults feed on pollen and nectar. The adults are sometimes inadvertently brought indoors on cut flowers. Female beetles can find wool and fur items indoors that are food for larvae, lay their eggs and start an infestation.

As reported by the BBC, the Bakewell Old House Museum in Derbyshire, England is suffering from an infestation of carpet beetles. The museum has an extensive collection of vulnerable textiles. What to do?

A local ice cream manufacturer has offered space in its ice cream storage units. The beetle eggs are killed when kept for extended periods at -30C (-22F). The collection of textiles will be frozen, thawed and prepared for display.

Numerous museums have collections that are threatened by insect pests. Modern central heating keeps many buildings at a comfortable temperature for the visitors, and that includes pest insects. Some museums avoided problems in the past because the winter temperatures were low enough, the pest insects did not feed or develop and infestations were suppressed. The elevated temperatures put these collections at risk.

Q. Why did the beetle chew a hole in the carpet?
A. It wanted to see the floor show.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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One Response to Living With Carpet Beetles

  1. Louis Sorkin says:

    Carpet beetle larvae are not restricted to skin and fur of dead animals. They feed on feathers and down and will also feast on dead insects.

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