Bad Bugs: Varied Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci)
This small (2-3 mm) cosmopolitan beetle is recognized by the presence of tiny flat, elongated white, yellow and brown scales on the elytra (the hardened 1st pair of wings on a beetle). The antennae have 11 segments of which the last three form an enlarged club. It is the larval stage that causes the damage. They are small, very hairy and have tufts of hairs clustered at the rear end. A pheromone is available for this pest.

The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is a Dermestid beetle that occurs naturally outdoors in wasp and bird nests. It is commonly encountered in Museum environments. It can be found in older homes, where it is often established in the attics, feeding on remains of dead insects. Over time, these beetles work their way down into the living areas and feed on fabrics, carpeting or rugs made of wool or silk. It will also feed on the fur, hair or feathers of taxidermy displays, skins, and clothing or furniture made with these materials. Adults feed on the pollen of small white or pink to purple flowering plants such as Spirea and Lilacs.

A new pheromone is available from Insects Limited Inc. to monitor this fur and fabric pest. It is a female sex pheromone which attracts the male beetle. The pheromone is not as volatile as the Indianmeal moth pheromone and, thus, will attract beetles from a shorter distance.

In 1998 varied carpet beetles were observed flying indoors on March 15 and were being caught in the No Survivor Trap™ traps with the new Bullet Lure™, until mid April. Outdoors, varied carpet beetles were being caught in the first week of April and continued until late June. Outdoor traps were catching 1-2 beetles per day with higher counts on very warm
days and on traps near flowering plants such as Spirea and Lilac. Very few beetles were caught when the temperature was below 70°F. While several species of carpet beetles were on the flowering plants, only male Anthrenus verbasci were caught.

A new pheromone and food attractant trap for varied carpet beetle is available from Insects Limited, Inc.  

Indoor pheromone and food traps caught beetles and larvae. Catches of more than 10 beetles in a 1-2 week period would indicate a heavily infested item is nearby. Traps in rooms with large windows caught more beetles than traps in a dark room because of the beetles’ biological need to fly to light in search of feeding and mating sites.

It is recommended that one indoor trap be placed for every 100-125 ft2 and placed on the ground near a window. Pheromone and food traps should be replaced every 4-6 weeks when indoors. Traps can be placed outdoors near flower shrubs and bushes to determine the pest pressure from the outdoors. Dermestids are notorious for moving from a nectar source outdoors to an animal protein food source indoors and back again.

Asian Lady Beetles
Camphor effectively repels the multicolored Asian lady beetle and could be a way to repel the insects as they attempt to overwinter indoors, Agricultural Research Service scientists report in a recent published paper. The results may help researchers balance the need for protecting this beneficial insect against the public’s concern for the nuisance the beetles create when they congregate in people’s homes and businesses. The research was published in the November 2000 issue of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. The multicolored Asian lady beetle, originally from China, was introduced to the United States in 1916. The beetle has been an effective biological control agent for aphids and scale insects.

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