What Eats Carpet Beetle Larvae?
Carpet beetle larvae are the immature stage of the beetles. During the larva stage, the insect eats and grows. Carpet beetle larvae look very distinctive. Some are oval, but most species have tapered bodies. Some are almost “carrot-shaped” – wide at the head and slender at the tail. A few are slender at the head and wide at the tail.
Carpet beetle larvae are covered with hairs. The hairs give the larvae a “bristly” appearance. Because of these hairs, many people think that carpet beetle larvae look like tiny bottlebrushes.
Carpet beetle larvae also have tufts of very special hairs on their bodies. These special hairs are called hastisetae. The tips of these hairs have points like spears. Scientists suspect that these hairs serve as a defense against predators.
The hastisetae can become airborne. When the carpet beetle population is very large, people sometimes develop respiratory problems and allergic reactions to the hastisetae in the air.
Carpet beetle larvae have a special ability. They can digest a substance called keratin. It is a protein that occurs in feathers and animal hair. Many species of carpet beetles require keratin in the larval diet in order to develop into adults.
In nature, carpet beetle larvae are usually scavengers in the nests of birds, rats, squirrels, and other animals. Scientists have found that the larvae seem to develop more easily in nests that are in or on human homes. It may be that nests that are on houses are more protected and so the birds or animals may survive in greater numbers.
In nature, there are very few insects or animals that are direct predators of carpet beetle larvae. Many species of ants would eat the larvae if they could find them, but since the larvae develop in bird and rat nests, they are hidden from most foraging ants.
In homes, carpet beetle larvae eat woolens, silks, and even fabric blends. They also attack furs, feathers, and dried flowers. If they find their way to the kitchen, they invade packages of flour, cereal, and other foods.
Keeping woolen clothing cleaned and stored carefully can prevent many carpet beetle infestations. Storing food products in tightly sealed containers can keep the larvae out of the pantry.
Adult carpet beetles eat pollen in flowers. When shrubs like crepe myrtle are blooming, carpet beetles often cluster in large numbers. Check to be sure exterior doors close tightly and replace any missing weather-stripping. Repair any damaged screens on windows and vents.
Inspect any cut flowers that are being brought in from the garden or flowerbeds to avoid bringing adult carpet beetles in at the same time.