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Carpet Beetle on the rise in London

In the last year I have noticed a huge increase in the number of London homes that have carpet beetle infestations. I thought it might be useful to post some information about the carpet beetle. The aim is to help homeowners to better understand the carpet beetle and know how to prevent, or deal wIth an infestation.

First of all here is a short video produced by the Manchester museum which shows the Varied carpet beetle in action.

 

The Life cycle of the Carpet Beetle

The adult carpet beetle flies outdoors in late spring or early summer. It searches for pollen and nectar and also mates among the flowerbeds. At night the beetles are attracted to bright lights and enter your home though open windows or doors. Whilst indoors they will lay their eggs out of sight in cracks and crevices. The adult beetles themselves only live for six weeks and they cause little damage. It is the larvae ( aka wooly bears) which hatch from the eggs that cause all the problems. The larvae will continually eat through the winter months devouring woolen textiles including carpets, rugs, wool curtains and clothing. They love to hide in dark places where they can continue to feed undisturbed by light and vacuum cleaners! Often the first signs of damage to your carpets are found under beds and furniture, or around the edges of rooms. As spring approaches the larvae pupate for 2 to 3 weeks before the adult beetle emerges and the life cycle begins all over again.

How will I know if I have an infestation?

Irregular holes in wool or silk carpets and fabrics are a sure sign of carpet beetle larvae feeding. Also if you look underneath/behind furniture you may find evidence of carpet beetle larvae or the skins that they shed as they grow.

What can I do to prevent an infestation?

Remove any potential infestation sources. Particularly old birds nests, dead birds, or stored woolen items in the roof/loft of your house. Carpet beetle larvae feed on these and can directly access the top floors of your home from these sources. Eliminate accumulations of lint, hair, dead insects, and other debris that serve as food for carpet beetles. During Spring and Summer check any cut flowers that are brought into the home for adult beetles.

Initiate good cleaning standards. Carpet beetle larvae thrive in dirty undisturbed areas. Regular and thorough cleaning of rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets, and other locations where carpet beetles congregate is an important preventive and control technique. Thoroughly vacuum your home several times per week. Ensure that all items of furniture are moved and that the area underneath all furniture is thoroughly vacuumed. Also make sure that the carpet edges are vacuumed using a crevice tool. As you clean inspect closely for any evidence of larvae or larvae cases. Frequent, thorough vacuuming is an effective way of removing food sources as well as carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults.

Make sure that your carpets and wool fabrics are cleaned professionally on a regular basis. This will make your carpets less attractive to the larvae once the food stains, spills, body oils and perspiration are removed.

Use special carpet beetle  traps in the summer months. This will give you an early warning of the presence of adult carpet beetles before too much damage occurs.

What should I do if I have an infestation of Carpet Beetles?

Continue with the cleaning standards with particular attention paid to the areas that are infested. After vacuuming infested areas, dispose of the bag promptly because it may contain eggs, larvae, or adult insects.

Seek professional help and advice. Carpet Beetle infestations are notoriously difficult to deal with and wil often require the use of pesticides and methods not accessible to the general public.