The carpet beetle is a fabric pest: in its larval stage (they start as eggs, become small worm-like larvae and finally emerge as an adult beetle) they eat natural fabrics. While the name suggests their favourite meal is carpet fibres, they’re equally happy eating clothing, curtains and other fabrics found in the home.
We’ve spent the better part of this morning treating a large home that had a very distributed case of carpet beetle. We were called initially because they’d been found on the mattress in a spare bedroom but, on closer inspection, there were beetle larvae in almost all rooms of the home. The grub is about 5mm long, with white and brown segments and short hairs – visible to the naked eye – around its body and give rise to its nickname: the woolly bear (these hairs can cause irritation to the skin, thankfully one of the less common indicators of an infestation). The best places to find these are in the areas a vacuum can’t reach easily; carpet edges, nooks and crannies, the corners of clothes cupboards – and we found them in all these places.
Preparation and Treatment
After clearing the floors and cupboards of as many items as possible, the areas were given a good Hoovering to rid them of woolly bears. This won’t get them all but it will help to break the life cycle by reducing their number dramatically. Next was an insecticide treatment in the form of a water-based spray that was applied to the carpets, stairs, clothes cupboards and bedrooms. After a few hours, we’d treated all the surfaces that needed it and, blessed with a warm day, had windows open to air the rooms. Job nearly done.
There are fabrics we can’t treat in this way: clothes, of course, can’t be treated with insecticide, nor can bed linen (both possible targets for carpet beetle) but a steam treatment, hot wash or even freezing items will serve the same purpose so the next step is to make sure all theses hiding places get dealt with.