The Carpet Beetle has outstripped the clothes moths as the major British textile pest. Carpet Beetle damage consists of fairly well defined round holes along the seams of fabric where the grubs will bite through the thread.
As the grubs grow, they moult and the old cast off skins are the first signs of an infestation. The adult Carpet Beetle feeds only on pollen and nectar of garden flowers but lays its eggs in old birds’ nests, felt, fabric or accumulated fluff in buildings. It is the larvae from these eggs that do the damage. They feed on feathers, fur hair or wool and have been known to wander along pipes from birds’ nests into roofs and then into airing cupboards, which house the clothes and blankets which constitute a great food source. Unlike many other species of beetle, the adult Carpet Beetle is also a good at flying.
The adults are most commonly seen in April, May and June, seeking laying sites for between 25 – 100 eggs whilst the grubs are most active in October before they hibernate.
The Varied Carpet Beetle is 2 to 4mm long, like a small, mottled brown, grey and cream ladybird. The related Fur Beetle is black with one spot on each wing case and there is also a rarer Black Carpet Beetle. The larvae of carpet beetle are also small (about 2mm long), covered in brown hairs and tend to roll up when disturbed.
The full lifecycle for a Carpet Beetle takes about a year and the grubs can survive starvation in hard times for several months.