There are several species of carpet beetles found throughout the United States. The more common species include the varied carpet beetle, the common carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle. Others are the hide beetle and the odd beetle. These pests are more common than people realize. This is true because they usually don’t develop into large populations that are easy to find. You are likely to find one or two every now and then but since they live in hidden areas “out of sight”, they seem to be “out of mind”. Unfortunately, their populations will readily grow and will cause a lot of damage.
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CARPET BEETLE BIOLOGY
Carpet beetles exist throughout the entire United States. They live outside feeding on many types of plants. During the summer months, when populations are most active, they will find their way into homes through windows and open doors. Carpet beetles can fly so it is easy for them to get inside. It is not known why they seem ready to get into our homes, but it is suspected there are certain scents or odors which lure them. Like the common house fly, carpet beetles seem to know when doors or windows are open. If they enter at this time, they are usually looking for a place to lay eggs. Adults which have fed during the summer months mate and females will spend their time laying eggs. All types of carpet beetles resemble lady bugs, but are smaller – about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of a lady bug. The coloration of carpet beetles vary. Like snow flakes, it is not likely you will find similar patterns on specimens unless they are gathered from the same home. Only then is it likely they were from the same crop. Their color may range from light to dark. You may find some with different colored spots on their wings. Some are solid in color. Although their look and coloration vary, a trained eye can properly identify them.
Once inside the home, female carpet beetle will look for a place to lay eggs. She will lay 50 to 100 eggs on surfaces that she feels will provide good food for the larva when they hatch. Larva are the stage which cause all the damage. They eat just about anything. Common food includes carpet, furniture, clothes, drapery, pet or human hair, antiques, and just about anything which is made of or has natural material in it. For example, most synthetic carpets have some natural content mixed in during the manufacturing process.
Carpet beetles have been observed living on such fabric although the natural materials added to the fiber was only 10%. This ability to find food will enable them to live on many items throughout the home. Most people will find pockets of adults or larva. This is common on the underside of furniture, along the baseboard where carpet meets molding, under area rugs, or in closets.
Carpet beetles only lay eggs once a year, although established populations in the home may do so twice. Adults live 2-4 years, so they are capable of laying several hundred eggs during their life span. Since they seem to attracted to light, there is no real pattern to how or where they may infest a home. You may find a pocket nesting in a piece of furniture and then another upstairs in your closet. These pockets could have been formed by different beetles coming into the home or an adult could have left the furniture downstairs and found it’s way into the closet. Because of this random behavior, it is necessary to treat all the carpeting to insure none are avoiding control methods. Many people will make the mistake of not treating certain areas or furniture. This is not recommended. Though you may have only found a few in one area of the home, it is likely others are elsewhere. Since they like to live deep in carpeting, it is hard to find every place they may be residing.
CARPET BEETLE INFESTATIONS
The most frustrating type of infestation is one which is thought to be in a closet. Most clothes which are found to have a hole or two chewed in them are immediately diagnosed as having been eaten by clothes moths. In fact, it is much more likely the insect causing the damage is a carpet beetle. Moth infestations are easy to identify because you will find adult moths flying around the clothing they are infesting. You will readily find adult moths, pupa casing or cocoons and larva in your clothes. They tend to stay where they are feeding. Carpet beetles are different. Once the larva feeds, they will generally move somewhere else to pupate. They won’t move far, but they usually won’t stay in the clothes either. This is important when treating.
CARPET BEETLE CONTROL
Controlling carpet beetle infestations can be difficult. This is true for several reasons. First, they are likely to be active in small areas but there are usually several such areas throughout the home. Second, they tend to be active in hidden areas. Unlike roaches, ants or flying pests, carpet beetles feed and nest out of sight. Though most pests learn to hide out of sight, they tend to feed where we are likely to see them. Carpet beetle infestations are more likely to be discovered because of the damage they do – not because large populations are being found. Third, the cycle of the carpet beetle enables them to have a built in defense mechanism against treatments. Although larva and adults are easily killed, eggs and pupa are not. When you treat, it is likely you will kill adults and larva which are active. However, eggs and pupa which hatch after the residual treatment has worn off can easily establish the population again. To stop this from happening, it is important to treat at least twice and in some cases as many as four times. Though every case may have specific keys to getting success, here are some guidelines for treating:
1) Be sure to treat all carpets. Though your main carpeting may be synthetic, it can likely feed carpet beetles.
2) Don’t ignore area rugs. These are readily infested since they are more likely to have more natural fibers. Be sure to turn the edges up and try to treat 2 feet in on the bottom side if not the entire bottom. Larva will feel right at home under area rugs and if you see some on top, there are probably more on the bottom.
3) Treat all fabric woven furniture. Be sure to turn pieces upside down and get the bottom. If the light fabric on the bottom is hanging low or is torn, spray inside the piece. Larva and adults will readily seek such places.
4) Don’t skimp on chemical applications. Because carpet beetles tend to be deep in carpeting, it is important to have the product penetrate. If you disperse the amount necessary to treat a given area over a larger area, it may not get down deep where it needs to be. This will make the whole treatment ineffective.
5) Understand: Since eggs and pupa are impervious to the chemical treatment, they will continue to live. After 30 days, they may hatch and live as if you never treated. This is why you must treat at least twice. Depending on the product used, you may need to treat once every month for 4-6 months. More about these options will detailed below.
6) Clothing where infestations have been discovered needs to be inspected. Though you can spend a lot of money laundering all your clothes, it is usually not needed. Take a vacuum to all your clothes for a quick and effective way to remove adults, larva, eggs or pupa. Be sure to throw away badly infested pieces.
7) Do a thorough vacuuming of the home before treating. This helps because it will remove some of the beetles as well as get them lifted up or moving where they are active. Your treatment will prove to be more effective if they are stirred up.
The above guidelines are general and apply to most situations. If you have a unique problem which may need some further preparation, be sure to call for suggestions.
CARPET BEETLE TREATMENTS
Now that you have vacuumed and allowed for access to furniture and closets, you are ready to treat. Treatment is done with one of our SPRAYERS. Be sure to use one which has a nozzle that sprays in a flat fan. This means it comes out much like the way a paint brush applies paint – in a pattern which is uniform and constant. Nozzles which spray inconsistently will not allow the product to be uniformly distributed over surfaces. This will lead to areas not properly treated which will let the carpet beetles live.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
Watch this short video to see what a “fan pattern” looks like.
CARPET BEETLE LIQUID SPRAY
There are several types of chemicals which that can be used for carpet beetles. For mild infestations, use PERMETHRIN. It has no odor, is easy to mix and will last 2-4 weeks. This product is the safest to use as it is used on pets and people for other insect control.
Permethrin 10: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/permethrin-10
Another active that’s proven effective on carpet beetles is D-FENSE SC. This material which will last longer – about 4-6 weeks per treatment – and will knock the population down quicker. It uses Deltamethrin for an active which is odorless and effective for many common household pests. You will need to do 2-3 treatments a month with the Permethrin and monthly treatments with the D-Fense for most active infestations. But if you treat following this schedule for at least two months, you’ll break the cycle of the infestation and knock out the problem.
Now since there can be eggs throughout the infested area, it’s important to think “big” in coverage. This way you insure you get all stages and all that may be hiding somewhere. And since most eggs will hatch inside of two months, in theory the problem should be done in this amount of time. Unfortunately it’s sometimes not that easy.
This is true because carpet beetle eggs are able to live longer and because of this, it may be necessary to treat every month for 4-6 months to get complete control. Every case is different. In general, two treatments will resolve about 50% of the homes treated for carpet beetles. But for the other 50%, 4-6 treatments are needed. This is why some pest control companies will charge $500.00 to $1,000.00 to do a job! It is very likely they will have to come back to the home several times and since there is no way to know how long any one population of carpet beetles will need treatments, they must insure they’re properly covered for a worse case scenario.
CARPET BEETLE JUVENILE GROWTH REGULATOR
Now to help alleviate this potential time span of the infestation, add some INSECT GROWTH REGULATOR to your tank mix when spraying either the Permethrin or D-Fense. Growth Regulators are basically a juvenile hormone which is labeled for many pests and when eggs and larvae are exposed to some in their environment, they’re not able to properly develop into adults.
So since the above adult formulations only last about a month or so, adding a growth regulator will definitely enhance your treatment and get you longer protection without doing a lot of extra work. Growth Regulator lasts 3 months and helps to stop the likelihood of re-infestations by controlling young carpet beetles before they can grow into reproducing adults. And since there are so many locations for eggs to hide, every tool you’re able to add to your arsenal can make the difference between success and failure.
CARPET BEETLE DUST
Unfortunately, liquid sprays are not always well suited for all the areas carpet beetles may be active. Remember, eggs and adults will many times be up and under furniture, hiding below seat cushions out of sight. These sensitive areas are difficult to treat using a liquid. Better suited for the job is either a dust or aerosol. For the underside of furniture, nothing beats a light dusting with some DELTA DUST. This product is light and much like baby powder.
Use a CRUSADER to apply some up and into the spaces and voids where carpet beetle larvae love to forage. Dust treatments can last a long time, maybe 6 months or more, and really work well when used in certain locations.
This type of treatment is ideal for getting coverage under baseboard molding, where carpets “tuck” under the wood. Carpet beetles love this location and regular liquid spray won’t get into the void adequately. But dusting with Delta Dust will get this area properly treated.
CARPET BEETLE AEROSOL SPRAY
Now if you have a small area to treat, like some furniture, area rug, hardwood or tiled floors, a closet or an automobile, go with BEDLAM PLUS. It’s practically odorless and has both an adulticide and an egg killer. It’s more costly to use compared to the liquid sprays but because it’s conveniently packed in one can, Bedlam is ideal for small jobs and for flooring where spraying a liquid is not cosmetically possible (like hardwood or tiled floors).
CARPET BEETLE TRAPS
One more tool to employ are some traps/monitors. We have two kinds which can help monitor your problem and though neither are a “solve all”, they should be deployed with most carpet beetle control programs. The first is our DERMESTID MONITOR. These “half dollar” sized discs are full of a food lure carpet beetle larvae love to eat. These monitors will attract larvae from several feet away. Set them in sensitive areas where you didn’t spray and they can serve as an early warning system to missed areas that need treatment. Dermestid Monitors are NOT traps so any larvae you see foraging around, on or inside the discs need to be removed by hand. But since carpet beetle larvae are slow moving, caterpillar like creatures, they’re easy to control and restrain (and they don’t bite).
Dermestid Monitor: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/pheromone-and-food/dermestid-monitors
For adult beetles, we have two kinds of CARPET BEETLE TRAPS available: Hanging or Low Profile. The hanging style can be set out around windows or large open areas where adults have been seen flying. Low profile traps should be deployed on furniture, carpets, rugs and other locations that are flat. Keep in mind that unlike the Dermestid Monitors which will attract a wide range of larvae, the pheromone traps are specific to either VARIED CARPET BEETLE or BLACK CARPET BEETLE species. If you’re unsure which species you have, get a few of each but the black species is just that; mostly black. Varied and furniture carpet beetles will vary in color but not be close to the black carpet in look.
Carpet Beetle Traps: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/pheromone-and-food/varied-carpet-beetle-trap
Black Carpet Beetle Traps: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/pheromone-and-food/black-carpet-beetle-traps
These traps will remain active for 1-2 months and should be set throughout the home. Carpet beetles will usually get “in the mood” 2-4 times a year so in general, there will be one month per quarter where the adult beetles should be attracted to the traps you set out.
As stated above, it is important to use the proper amount of product for the area being treated. Be sure not to spread the chemical too thin. Although carpet beetles can be a tough and persistent pest, adulticides like Permethrin, and D-Fense can be used to kill existing beetle populations. Since eggs and pupae will be hatching in a month to three months following your first treatment, repeat the treatment to insure you have gotten complete control. And as suggested, adding Growth Regulator to the mix for added protection is strongly suggested.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
Email questions here: http://www.bugspray.com/about-us/contact-us
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