Carpet beetles prefer the outdoors – so how do they end up in customers’ homes?
When investigating pest infestations, understanding the natural behaviours of the pest in question can help unravel how the problem started in the first place and influence the recommended management plan. This is certainly the case for carpet beetles as the inside of homes is not their natural environment. So how do carpet beetle infestations start?
Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen and nectar, so seek out flowering plants. Typically they would live in forested areas and woodlands, but with the gardens in residential areas providing lots of flowering plants, urban areas are an ideal, albeit artificial environment for carpet beetles. In their natural environment, female carpet beetles seek out spider webs, bee and wasp nests, and bird nests to lay their eggs. These sites have a plentiful supply of animal protein, which the carpet beetle larvae prefer, such as dead insects, beeswax, feathers and pollen.
Knowing these facts, it provides clues as to how carpet beetles get into homes. The most obvious route is by accident, simply flying through open doors and windows from flowers in nearby gardens. However, the introduction of a significant instant population of carpet beetles is more likely on cut flowers being brought into the home.
In terms of locating all the sites of infestation inside the home, it’s important to remember that the female carpet beetles will be trying locate good sources of animal protein to lay their eggs. Whilst the carpet beetle’s primary site of infestation is sometimes the wool rugs or carpets where the damage is first spotted, often the first site of infestation may be a ‘fresher’ source of animal protein. Bird nests or animal carcasses in roof voids and subfloors can be a common starting point for carpet beetle infestations and don’t forget dried pet food as a potential egg-laying site for females.
Once all the sources of infestation have been located, the infested items need to be removed or treated. In terms of preventing more carpet beetles entering the home, eliminating flowering plants adjacent to the building would be a good start, although this is not something homeowners like to change. If any flowering plants are to remain, well fitted insect screens and inspecting any cut flowers entering the house are a must.