Sometimes the name of a pest just doesn’t do it justice, carpenter ants don’t build things, deer mice don’t have antlers and carpet beetles can be found in so many more things than just your rug. Of course the name animal fibers such as wool, furs, silk, feathers, felt and leather, foodstuffs and cereal, pasta, nuts, blankets, hair, dead carcasses, abandon bird nest and oh yes carpet beetle might be a little long so I guess we’ll just have to live with it.
Not easily found
Carpet beetles are a common pest but infestations can go long unnoticed. The adult beetle is seemingly harmless and is most often seen dead on a window sill or away from the original infestation point. The larvae prefer to eat in darkened quiet areas typically on clothing not worn often in a dark closet or the edges of carpets and under furniture. The eggs are woven in tiny sacs that blend in with the surrounding fabric and hard to spot. Although the larvae are easily distinguished because of their dense hair covered bodies and what looks like a stinger (actually more hair) what most people find is just shed skins and not the larvae itself. Both the larvae and the adult tend to wander so finding one of these may not be the best clue as to where the original infestation is. Dead mice or a old bird nest in the attic could be your source just as easily as the wool sweater in your dresser.
Control begins with cleaning
Cleaning is always the first step in carpet beetle control. Not the kind of cleaning mind you that you would do for roaches but a thorough vacuuming, laundering of clothes and going through dresser drawers or boxes where things they may eat are stored for long periods of time. This can be a huge undertaking for most of us but the more thorough you are the better your chances for complete control. Now I’ve been around for a while and I realize not everybody’s gonna do this 100%. Ok let’s face it you’re probably only going to clean out the one closet where you have chewed up clothes or vacuum the one room with the gnawed on carpet corners. So we can either stop here or try and get you beetle relief and get you on to things you enjoy doing.
How to treat
Liquid treatments are going to be the most effective in areas such as closets or carpets but never on clothing. Demand CS or Suspend SC work well and should be mixed with Gentrol which is a growth regulator and won’t allow the larvae to reach the adult stage. While some may recommend sprinkling boric acid on the carpets I’ve never been a big fan of it. It doesn’t adhere to the fibers the way the liquid will and gets stirred up with activity. Moth flakes or boric acid in storage boxes or under carpets along the tack edge will work but that’s as much dust as I would use. Using the liquid sprays along edges such as baseboards, around window frames and fan spraying carpeted areas should do nicely to get adults and larvae. Using Gentrol is a long term strategy so you need to give it time and only reapply in about 4 months if needed. The forgotten tool for carpet beetle control is pheromone traps and could be your key to keep you from sorting through all those boxes. A few well placed traps will attract the carpet beetle to help stop the beetle from continuing its cycle.
Calling a pro
There are just times when you have to call in a pro to have the job done right. It may be that they’ll traverse the attic looking for the source or using their experience find an old dead mouse under the stove which is the starting point for the carpet beetle. I doubt if they’ll sort through your clothes and very few offer carpet cleaning but they can spot things pretty quickly and have all the tools and products that should be used for successful treatment of the problem. Although severe infestations are rare that won’t matter to you much when you go to pull out an old favorite sweater and you find your turtle neck is now a V.