Carpet Beetle Control - How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles are possibly one of the most common household pest found in UK homes and are certainly one of the most difficult to eradicate completely. The adult beetle is not the real problem as it lives outdoors feeding mainly on nectar and pollen extracted from flowers. Occasionally they can be a nuisance if they fly into the home or are brought in on cut flowers. It’s at the larval stage, however, when the trouble begins for the household that is infected by them.
Carpet beetle larvae can live for anything up to three years and during this time they have voracious appetites. They are capable of eating their way through carpets, clothing, furnishings and indeed, just about any natural material such as hair, feathers, wool, cotton, linen, etc. They prefer a warm, dry environment and, of course, an abundant supply of food. This makes the average centrally heated house a veritable haven for them.
Identifying Carpet Beetles and Larvae
Adult carpet beetles are oval-shaped and reach about 2 to 4mm in length. Their larvae are small grub-like creatures about 4mm long. They are mostly brown in colour with white or yellow markings and are covered with short, bristly hairs. The larvae tend to stay out of sight under carpets or concealed within folds of clothing or blankets in storage cupboards and wardrobes. However, they can sometimes be seen making their way down a wall or along a windowsill in their search for food.
How Carpet Beetles Get Into Your House?
As already mentioned, the adult carpet beetles spend most of their time out of doors. After mating the female carpet beetle goes hunting for a suitable place to lay her eggs. A prime location is in a disused bird’s nest such as can be found in a loft or perched in the eaves of the roof. Other favoured places are old woollen blankets or carpets that are lying loose and easily accessible in the loft. When the eggs hatch the resulting larvae feed on the remains of feathers and any other organic matter found in the immediate area. Once this food supply is exhausted they will begin to explore your home in search of other items to eat.
Like most beetle larvae they are adept at moving around and they soon find their way into the upper floors of a house, usually by means of hot water pipes: airing cupboards are favourite gathering places for these creatures. They will home in, however, on any dark, undisturbed place where items made from wool, cotton and other natural fibres are stored.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
As always prevention is better than cure and the first steps in carpet beetle control, for both carpet beetles and their larvae, is to make your home as inhospitable to them as possible. The eaves, gutters and loft areas should be cleared of any old birds’ nests and lofts need to be free from old pieces of carpets, blankets and similar items made from natural materials.
Clothing that is to be stored for long periods should first be laundered and then tightly sealed in plastic bags. The cleaning process will remove any traces of perspiration and other causes of odours that attract the beetles. Mothballs can be added to the bag as an additional deterrent.
Regular vacuuming of carpets will lift most carpet beetles and larvae that are hiding there and will also remove hair and feathers, thus reducing the food supply. Particular attention should be given to cleaning carpet and skirting board edges and areas under heavy furniture that might not normally be reached during routine housework.
In addition to good housekeeping practices there are several types of insecticides that are effective against carpet beetle larvae should you wish to deal with them yourself. These products are available as powders or in liquid form for spraying and they should be liberally applied to the underside of carpets at their edges and underneath furniture.
Fumigating an area is also advisable as the smoke penetrates all the cracks and crevices which could be difficult to reach with other pesticide formulations. Pest Control Supplies offer foggers and smoke generators such as the Fortefog Midi Fumer Smoke Generator. The manufacturer’s directions should be carefully followed whenever using any type of insecticide. In the range of sprays there is Protector C Carpet Beetle Killer Insecticide Spray and in the powder range there is Agrodust Silicon Dust.
Normally the areas where insecticide has been applied shouldn’t be vacuumed for about a week. Bear in mind that these pests are small and they bury themselves deep within the pile of a carpet or rug and a single application of an insecticide might not be sufficient to get rid of carpet beetles completely. If signs of the larvae are still apparent a week after insecticide treatment then a further application needs to be considered.
If this doesn’t get rid of the infestation then it is time to call in the professionals. They have access to stronger pesticides than are sold to the public and they can also make use of smoke bombs in enclosed areas such as lofts so as to ensure that every surface is dealt with, but this is a more expensive alternative.
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