One of the most common and destructive pests in the United States, including in the Northeastern region, is the black carpet beetle. This tiny insect reaches lengths of only one-fourth of an inch at most, but it is capable of doing great harm inside a home. Below is more information about this pest and what you can do to rid your home of it.
An Overview of the Black Carpet Beetle
The black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) is a dark-brown or black bug with a shiny, hard covering over its body. This shell possesses a woodgrain appearance and is uniformly oval; the beetle has short legs that are often hidden by its body.
Black carpet beetles don't naturally inhabit homes; they are instead drawn to flowering plants. Adults feed on nectar from flowers and live only a few weeks; however, female beetles are capable of laying dozens of eggs during their short lifespans. They choose a location close to possible food sources when laying eggs.
The larvae are also small, though it is possible for their body length to exceed that of the adult form. Black carpet beetle larvae are usually tan or brown in color and have segmented bodies.
A distinguishing feature of carpet-beetle larvae are the long, thin strands of hair that protrude from the rear of their thoraxes. Interestingly, these tufts of hairs can be used for self-defense, as they provoke an allergic response when rubbed against the skin of would-be predators.
Why Black Carpet Beetle Larvae Are So Destructive
As is true with several other insect species, the larvae of the black carpet beetle have the greatest negative impact upon humans. One of the reasons why black carpet beetles are such a successful species is due to their larva's wildly diverse appetite.
In fact, the larvae will consume almost any animal product and several plants, including carcasses, hair, wool, dander, pet food, cotton, leather, and silk. That means your clothing, carpeting, rugs, upholstery, and even diverse items such as wigs and shoes are vulnerable to destruction.
The voracious eating habits of the larvae are just one reason why they are capable of causing untold damage. The other is the potentially long lifespan of the larvae; though the exact time can vary, it is possible for black carpet beetles to remain in their larval stage for up to three years before transitioning to the adult form. That gives the larvae plenty of time to eat their way through your clothing and furnishings.
What Can Be Done About Black Carpet Beetles
As with many insect pests, one of the most important things you can do to eliminate black carpet beetles from your home is to create conditions that discourage their presence.
Since black carpet beetles excel at scavenging for food, keeping your home clean and free of food sources is important. Always clean crumbs and other small bits and pieces of potential foods, such as pet foods or insect carcasses. Regularly vacuuming and sweeping will go a long way toward removing these attractants.
Another way you can eliminate black carpet beetles is to kill their larvae by using boric-acid powder. Boric acid is a natural pest-killing chemical that can be safely used around humans and pets, and it is inexpensive and easy to use. Simply spread the powder around loosely in areas where larvae can feed, and the boric acid will quickly impact the beetle larvae.
Be careful when sprinkling boric acid on carpets and rugs, and don't leave it for more than a few hours, as it can bleach the color from the fabric.
If you aren't sure about what to do or feel the problem with black carpet beetles is too much to handle, be sure to contact a qualified pest-control specialist. They can provide expert guidance on know-how to eliminate carpet beetles, and they are also qualified to use potent pesticides that can quickly eradicate a population of pests.