Black Carpet Beetle Facts, Identification, and Control in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
Scientific Order: Coleoptera
Scientific name: Attagenus unicolor
- Size: Less than ¼ inches long, pill-shaped.
- Color: Uniformly black or very dark brown, with shiny, shell-like eltrya. Adult black carpet beetle legs and antennae may look slightly lighter brown than their bodies.
Signs of Infestation
Black carpet beetle larvae eat large, irregular holes through their food sources. These holes are particularly noticeable on fabric. As they eat, larvae also leave behind shed skin near their food. This skin is very flakey and often breaks down into dust-like material. You might find this material on fabric or stored foods.
Treatment and Prevention
Carefully inspect dark areas such as basements, pantries, boiler rooms, and attics. Look for the beetles on either organic animal products such as fabrics or stored food products. Vacuum up beetles, larvae, and eggs you find. Throw out infested food and wash infested fabrics very thoroughly. Pay special attention to pet bedding and shed fur.
Behavior and Diet
Black carpet beetles feed on a wide variety of organic materials. Usually, they infest organic or partially-organic fiber materials. Larvae can consume nearly any animal product, including leather, wool, silk, feathers, hair, and other organic fibers.
Given the opportunity, beetles will also infest stored food like cereal, nuts, dry pet food, dried meat, grains, flour, or spices.
Carpet beetles reproduce as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. Adults can mate continuously as long as they stay warm enough. Black carpet beetles undergo a four-stage life cycle with a pupal metamorphosis.
Beetles may complete their entire life cycle in less than two months. A single female beetle can lay as many as 90 eggs at a time. Eggs hatch between 6 and 11 days. Upon hatching, larvae eat continuously until growing large enough to pupate. Adults emerge from pupation ready to mate and lay eggs immediately.
- Black carpet beetle larvae resemble caterpillars. They’re vaguely cigar or carrot shaped and look slightly longer and more narrow than their adult counterparts.
- Black carpet beetle larvae have a distinctive tuft of long, curled, golden-brown hair protruding from their tail-end.
- At the beginning of each step in their life cycle, black carpet beetles may appear pale or even white. The pest darkens very quickly with age.
- Penn State Dept. of Entomology Black Carpet Beetle fact sheet
- University of Florida Entomology & Nematology “Featured Creatures” black carpet beetle page
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension Carpet Beetles fact sheet