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Beetles Intro

Beetles (Dermestidae)

Family Name 
Dermestidae, also known as ‘skin feeders’.  Other common names include carpet beetles, hide or leather beetles, khapra beetles, larder beetles and museum beetles.

General characteristics
Hard, leathery forewings meeting along the midline of the dorsal surface.   Hindwings membranous, although sometimes lacking.  Also feature biting mouthparts and well developed thorax.  Metamorphosis is complete, comprising egg, larval, pupil and adult stages.

Pest control
The wandering nature of these insects means that they often infest large areas, making them difficult to control.

The first step is to establish the source of the infestation.  This can be an old birds nest, animal remains, wool based lagging, soundproofing or the general litter that accumulates between floorboards.

All sources of infestation should be removed and, if practical, burned.  Subsequent routine observation and regular cleaning are recommended to prevent a reoccurrence.

If the infestation is extensive thorough surface spray treatments should be used to ensure all larva are killed.  Care should be taken when treating carpets and furnishings.

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Species Characteristics
The most common species are the Varied Carpet Beetle and the Furniture Carpet Beetle. Click on the names to see their specific characteristics.

  Varied Carpet Beetle - Anthrenus verbasci

Varied Carpet Beetle - Anthrenus verbasci

  • Adults, 2-4mm long, body strongly convex
  • Colour: variable, brown or black and mottled with yellow or white scales on the dorsal surface
  • Ventral surface clothed with fine grey-yellow scales
  • 11-segmented antennae with 3-segmented clubs at tip, clubs have nearly parallel sides
  • At rest, antennae lie in recesses in thorax
  • Eyes smoothly rounded
  • Legs short, retracting into grooves on the ventral surface
  • Larvae brown, bearing 3 bunches of golden hairs on tip of abdomen

  Furniture Carpet Beetle - Anthrenus flavipes

Furniture Carpet Beetle - Anthrenus flavipes

  • Adult, 2-4mm long, body strongly convex
  • Colour: variable, brown or black and mottled with yellow or white scales on the dorsal surface
  • Ventral surface clothed with white scales
  • 11-segmented antennae with 3-segmented oval clubs at tip
  • At rest, antennae lie in recesses in thorax
  • Eyes indented on inner side
  • Legs short, retracting into grooves on ventral surface
  • Legs thickly clothed with yellow scales
  • Larvae brown, bearing 3 bunches of golden hairs on tip of abdomen

Details 2

Areas where they are found
The varied carpet beetle is indigenous to Europe and in England is common south of a line drawn between Bristol and the Wash. The furniture carpet beetle is of subtropical origin and is more sensitive to cold.

Both species are pests of animal products and occasionally food products of plant origin. Consequently, they may be found wherever these commodities are stored or handled. Carpet beetles are now one of the major pests of textiles, their success being attributed to central heating, which ensures uniform temperatures, and to the increasing use of wall-to-wall carpeting, which allows the insects to breed undisturbed.

Adult carpet beetles live outdoors on pollen and nectar and can also be found wandering on walls and windows. In temperate climates the larvae are particularly evident in the autumn when they wander in search of food and hibernation sites.

Carpet beetles thrive in situations where they remain undisturbed, for example beneath carpets, around skirting boards and in wardrobes. Bird and rodent nests, animal remains and dead insects are frequently homes to infestations.

Significance as a pest
Larval forms often cause considerable damage to products such as wool, fur, leather, silk and dried animal remains. Occasionally food products of plant origins are attacked, such as cereals and fibres. The damage caused will be clean, irregular holes in the product.

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