© Stuart M Bennett 2000
Attagenus pelio
(Fur or Carpet Beetle)

Adults, oblong shape and 4.5 - 6mm long; colour: black, but for small patch of white hairs on either side of elytra; base of thorax also covered with white hairs; larvae have distinctive tuft of very long hairs which project backwards.

The Fur beetle may be found in a wide variety of products including furs, skins, textiles and grain. Adult carpet beetles live outdoors on pollen and nectar, they can also be found wandering On walls and windows. In temperate climates the larvae are particularly evident in 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 reservoirs of infestations, so museums are a favourite stop (see damage below to an insect specimen).


Larval forms can cause considerable damage to keratin-containing products such as wool, fur, leather silk and dried animal remains. Occasionally, food products of plant origin, such as cereals and fibres, will also he attacked. Damage takes the form of clean, irregular holes and in textiles these generally occur around seams. There is no webbing or excrement present and by the time larvae are observed, considerable damage has often been done. Because of the large number of larval moults, when cast larval skins are seen they tend to exaggerate the extent of the infestation.

Carpet beetles are of limited significance as a health hazard, although they are potential vectors of anthrax. In certain situations the larval hairs cause skin irritation to those exposed to large numbers of the insects.

Control Measures


Locate the source of infestation before treatment. Carpet beetle larvae prefer to feed in dark, undisturbed, protected places. Use a flashlight and nail file to check in such places as under baseboards, in and under upholstered furniture, piano felts, air ducts, stuffed animal trophies, stored cereals, bird nests under eaves, rodent nests, wasp nests in attics, dead birds or rodents in wall voids, woolens, clothes closets, furs, etc. Often the cast skins are more abundant than the larvae. Adult beetles flying around windows may help in locating the infestation.


Good housekeeping is critical. Use a strong suction vacuum cleaner with proper attachments to remove lint, hair and dust from floors, shelves and drawers. Periodically brush, air outside, or dry-clean furs, woolens, blankets, etc. Clean rugs, carpets, draperies, furniture, baseboards, air vents, moldings and other hard-to-reach places regularly. Destroy untreated worthless animal skins or hides, valueless insect collections, old woolen rags and old clothing. Cedar-lined closets and chests help but are not 100 percent effective. Use one pound of naphthalene flakes or balls or paradichlorobenzene (PDB) crystals per 100 cubic feet of closet space for limited protection (but always remember the health risks to children who may think moth balls are sweets). Any tight box or bag that can be sealed is a good storage container. Place garments in and add PDB crystals or naphthalene flakes interspaced between sheets of paper. Use one ounce of crystals or flakes per two cubic feet of container space. Be sure that all cloth goods are dry-cleaned, washed, pressed with a hot iron, sunned or brushed prior to storage. Fur storage in cold vaults is effective. Remove and destroy abandoned bird and insect nests in attics, under eaves, etc.


Woolen carpets, clothing and blankets may be sprayed lightly with a ready-to-use aerosol spray such as permethrin before placing in storage. Do not over-apply and be sure to dry-clean clothing before wearing after they have been in storage. Upholstered furniture and pillows may require fumigation by a pest control operator where surface sprays would not be effective. After thoroughly cleaning under heavy furniture, rugs, rug pads and carpets, especially around the edges, apply insecticide crack & crevice sprays and spot treatments. Apply coarse spray surface treatments along edges of wall-to-wall carpeting in closets, corners, cracks, baseboards, moldings and other hiding places. Spraying surfaces where insects crawl or hide is very effective. Some carpets and their dyes may be susceptible to running and discoloration by certain insecticides. (If in doubt, conduct a small test of the product on the target carpet or similar material before treating.) Use of dusts in voids will offer long-term treatment.

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