Common Carpet Beetle

Common Name: Common Carpet Beetle

Latin Name: Anthrenus scrophulariae

Common Family Name: Dermestid or skin beetles

Latin Family Name: Dermestidae

Other Names: Common carpet beetle, buffalo bug

Origin: This destructive species appears to be imported into the United States, possibly of European origin. The genus Anthrenus is a large one though, with other species in it that are native to North America.

Biology: These small beetles feed on a wide range of animal and plant products, being severe pest problems in stored foods as well as on wool, hides, furs, feathers, or other materials with animal hair origins. They feed commonly on dead insects, and this may be the attraction to structures, where the beetles find leftovers in wasp nests, ant colonies, termite colonies, or bee hives, as well as accumulations in window sills. They are destructive to collections of insects or animals in museums. It is only the larvae that feed on animal byproducts, as the adults feed on nectar and pollen from flowers. Their presence indoors may be due to their ability simply to fly in from outside. Females lay from 30 to 90 eggs on suitable food sources for their larvae, and the time from egg to adult varies widely, depending on the food source and the temperature, but it averages about 95 days. Adults live for about 1 month.

Identification: Carpet beetles in general are patterned in mottled, checkerboard, or wavy lines with black, white, gray, brown, or orange colors. They are only around 2 to 3 mm long, flattened from top to bottom, oval in shape, and very compact, with no separation between the prothorax and the elytra. The Common Carpet Beetle is possibly the least common of the three major species, and it is the darkest, being mostly black with some white scales and a band of orange/red down the middle of the back. The larva is typically Anthrenus, being brown and very thickly covered with long brown hairs. It is widest at its middle and has several tufts of longer hairs at its posterior. It is very active and very fast.

Characteristics Important in Control: Control of carpet beetles begins with storing susceptible food or fabric materials in containers that exclude the adult insects. Prevention also centers around removal of abandoned insect, rodent, or bird nests that may contain leftover skins, feathers, or hairs that the carpet beetle larvae feed on. If the infestation is in progress a thorough inspection to determine the source is needed, prior to the application of any pesticides. Pheromone traps exist that may facilitate the inspection and monitoring process.