Carpet Beetle Larvae Around the House
Carpet beetle larvae are scavengers. They can digest a substance called keratin, which occurs in hair, fur, and feathers. They also attack silk, wool, and other fibers. In addition, they will feed on flour, cereal, and other foods.
Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen from flowers. They gather in flowerbeds and on flowering shrubs. The beetles are not very large – usually less than ¼”. Many people do not notice them on the plants outside their home.
The adult beetles come inside to find a place to put their eggs. They hide the eggs near a food that the larvae will eat. The adults put the eggs in crevices, in dark corners, behind baseboards, and even in air vents. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on any hairs or fibers that they find.
After the larvae have grown a little, they start to wander around the house. They can find food in almost any room of the home. In the bathroom, the larvae can go under the cabinet base and feed on any hairs that might be there.
If the hamper is in the bathroom, they can get into the dirty laundry. Scientists have found that if the garment is made from blended fabrics, the larvae will eat the natural fiber and leave the synthetic. If a garment has been stained with blood or perspiration, the larvae will even attack synthetic fabrics.
In the bedroom, the larvae can move into the closet. They will attack garments made of wool, silk, and leather. They will attack feathers and they will even attack dried flowers. If the larvae climb into the dresser, they can often hide in one of the drawers and find something to eat.
In the kitchen, the larvae can find plenty of food in the pantry and the cabinets. Even if they feed in the pantry, many larvae need to eat something containing keratin in order to finish developing into adult beetles.
Carpet beetle larvae can survive in the family room. If there is a pet bed, the larvae can hide in the crevices and eat the shed hairs. The larvae might also be able to attack some of the furniture. They might be able to attack the fabric and if there have been food spills, the furniture will be even more attractive.
Carpet beetle larvae usually eat the hairs off of a fur and leave the bare skin. However, the damage that the larvae do to fabrics is sometimes hard to see. Their fecal pellets are very small and the pellets often blend into the surface where they land, so people do not usually see them.
Carpet beetle larvae shed their skins 15 or 20 times as they grow. People often find these skins around the home. These skins are signs that carpet beetle larvae are active.
Homeowners who suspect that they have carpet beetles should do a thorough inspection. It is important to find everything that the larvae have been eating.
Fabrics should be cleaned and stored carefully. Infested food packages should be thrown away. If the larvae have attacked antiques, valuable items, or mounted animal trophies, it might be a good idea to consult an expert before trying to clean these items.