Varied Carpet Beetle
Common Name: Varied Carpet Beetle
Latin Name: Anthrenus verbasci
Common Family Name: Dermestid or skin beetles
Latin Family Name: Dermestidae
Origin: Not known for certain, as some literature suggests it is of European origin, while others suggest it may be native to North America, given that it is found in natural settings in the U.S. It is now found throughout the world.
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. The length of time from egg to adult varies widely depending on temperature, humidity, and food quality, but appears to average around 275 days, extending to almost 2 years in some circumstances. Adults live for around 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 Varied Carpet Beetle is the most common in the western U.S., and it has the typical coloration and a “checkerboard” pattern, and the elytra meet at the posterior end with a straight juncture. The Furniture Carpet Beetle is identical to the Varied, but where the elytra meet there is a small concave notch, or “V” at the juncture. The larva of the Varied Carpet Beetle is brown, very hairy, with several enlarged tufts of hairs at its tail end, and is much wider at the tail end than at the front.
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.