Common Types of Carpet Beetles in the UK

Carpet beetles can be a pest in your home both in their larval and their adult forms. They can cause damages to your home, as well as to commercial premises, in each of their life stages.

Here are the most common types of carpet beetles in the UK so you can quickly identify them, the damages they cause, and act fast before they infest the whole house.

Varied Carpet Beetles

Close up photo of an adult carpet beetle.

Appearance:The size of an adult Varied carpet beetle (A. verbasci) varies from 1.7mm to 3.5mm. The shape of the body is almost spherical. The colour of the body is a mixture of white, light and dark brown spots, and older specimen might even have grey-ish colour.

The larva is elongated and furry, also called woolly bears. They are brownish and can reach up to 5mm.

Depending on the environmental conditions, the Varied carpet beetles (A. verbasci) can live from a year up to three years.

Feeding:The larvae feed on natural fibres, including dead insects, animal hair, feathers. They also feed on keratin. The adult Varied carpet beetle feed on pollen, plants' nectar, wheat, seeds, oats, rice, other packaged food in your home. A variety of natural materials in your home are also suitable for their diet preferences, such as wool, fur. This means that clothes, soft furnishings, and carpets with natural materials in your home are in danger.

Habitat:This type of beetle is native to most of Europe, North Africa, North Asia, and some others. The Varied beetle is primarily a household pest but can infest warehouses, even museums as well. The adults emerge sometime between the end of May and the beginning of August. They are great at flying and can fly long distances to find food. They get inside your home through open windows or cracks.

Reproduction:During the life expectancy of the adult beetles, they can reproduce at least once. They prefer to lay eggs in dark places, which makes your home a great place. Especially under rugs, under furniture, in closets, etc.

Image by: Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin

Fur Beetle

Close up photo of a fur beetle

Appearance:The adult Fur beetle (Attagenus pellio) is black, oblong, reaches length from 4.5mm to 6mm. Its body is covered in tiny white hairs and has two small white spots on its back (or elytra). These two white spots are how they are mainly recognised by people and pest technicians. The larvae have a distinctive tuft of long hairs projecting backwards.

Food preferences:The larva of the Fur beetle will feed on anything made from natural material. Be it dead animals, fur, wool, hair, feathers. Whereas the adult beetles will also eat cereal and vegetables, flower pollen and nectar, as well.

Habitat:The Fur beetle is spread in Europe and the USA. It is quite common in the UK.

Image by: David Short

Leather Beetle

Close up photo of a leather beetle

Appearance:The adult Leather beetle is also oval-shaped like the other types of carpet beetles but is more elongated than the Varied carpet beetle. This type of beetle is distinguished by its dark (black or brown) colour uppermost and a white underside. Its wings are hard and leathery. Size varies between 5mm and 10mm.

The larvae are longer than the adult beetle. Like the larvae of other beetle types, it is oblong with hair, but can be distinguished by the orange stripe running down its back.

Food:These beetles are scavengers and feed on animal materials - dead animals, skin, feathers, hair, dried fish. In rare occasions, they’ve been reported to attack live turkeys. The adult beetles may also feed on dog food, cheese, bacon, poultry.

Habitat:They lay their eggs in solid materials only (preferably softwood). The Leather beetle is a common pest in commercial premises where there are a lot of dead animals - slaughterhouses, food storage, etc.

If you find Leather beetle in your home this might mean that there is a dead rodent in the house. Or they have simply hidden in some wooden part of your home and laid their eggs.

The Leather beetle lifespan is between 2 and 3 months.

Image by: Udo Schmidt

What Damages Do Carpet Beetles Do?

As mentioned above, the three types of beetles feed on natural fibres and a few other things. However, in your home, they will be drawn to soft furnishings, carpets, drapes, clothes made from natural fibres - leather, fur, wool, feathers, etc. That’s where their damaging powers are sensed the most.

This means that the most expensive items in your home and wardrobe are at risk!

When your home suffers a carpet beetle infestation (regardless of the type), you will see the following signs - round holes on fabrics or clothes. Also seeing live adult beetles in your home or trying to get out of your home.

Some of the species, not all, will also attack packaged food in your pantry - cereal, pasta, vegetables, herbs and spices even.

What is more, another danger of having a carpet beetle infestation in your home is that their spiky larvae hairs can irritate sensitive skin and even cause dermatitis.

Conclusion

Carpet beetles enter your home through open doors, windows, or gaps in walls. You may not realise there’s a problem for a long time during which they can cause quite a lot of damage to your property.

It’s important to get professional pest inspection and control at the first signs of beetles in your home. If the problem is caught on time you can save yourself a lot of costly damage.

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Disclaimer

Bear in mind that we only aim to provide some useful information about the types of carpet beetles in the UK, what are the possible health risks and dangers to you and your family. We cannot guarantee that you will experience the above - mentioned concerns. We don't provide professional medical advice.

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