Carpet Beetles – Indian Meal Moths

Carpet Beetles are a fairly common pest. Though these insects will do damage to fabric, they are known to be a pest in food products as well. Carpet beetles occur naturally outdoors and then make their way into buildings. They may enter through cracks and crevices or improperly screened doors and windows. Due to their small size, sealing them out is completely is difficult.

There are two groups of Carpet beetles: the Black Carpet Beetles and Varied, Common and Furniture Carpet Beetles. The adult Black Carpet Beetle, is black in color and oblong shaped and ranges in size from 1/8″ up to 3/16″ in length. The other three, though about the same size, will have a variety of different wing color patterns and are somewhat more oval in shape. Carpet beetles go through complete metamorphosis which includes egg, larvae (crawling stage), pupae (cocoon) and adult (beetle).

Larvae of the Black Carpet Beetles are fairly distinctive. They are quite hairy and are striped tan and white in color. There may be tail bristles (hairs) visible at the back of the insect as well. Inspection commonly reveals either live larvae or sometimes cast skins of the larvae. It is this stage of the insect that actually ingests the fabric or other food.

Carpet beetle larvae may damage carpeting, clothing, hair, fur and animal hides. They will also feed on the fur left on animal carcasses such as from mice, rats or squirrels that may have died inside of a wall, below a floor or in the ceiling or in an attic. As stated above, they may also be found in food products including milled products such as pastas, cereals, nuts, etc. Most homeowners spot the larvae or beetles crawling along a surface somewhere. They may wander into areas away from where they feed. They will chew irregular holes in fabrics including wool carpeting, but often feed on the nap of the fabric without eating the base threads.

A common food source for carpet beetles is pet hair. In areas around or behind furniture, accumulation of hair may provide ample food for this pest. These beetles can fly and are attracted to light and may be found near windows.

These insect may be difficult to control. Sanitation and identifying source areas is key. You can discard affected garments or fabrics or have them dry cleaned as needed. Removal of pet hair or fur regularly with thorough vacuuming is helpful in reducing possible food sources for the larvae. Removing clutter from floors will also help. Carpeting may be dry cleaned as well. You may want to dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the cup afterward as a precaution. Yet another alternative would be to place items in a dryer on the high heat setting for 20 to 30 minute on high where practical.

Vulnerable clothing made of wool, cashmere, silks or leather may be stored in air tight plastic tote containers to help protect them from the beetles.

Indian Meal Moth

This is probably the most common pest of food found in the home. The Indian Meal Moth is often confused with the Webbing Clothes Moth, a fabric pest. Indian Meal Moths affect food product and not fabric. Clothes Moths affect fabric only.

This pest in introduced into a building by being brought in with a food product which is already infested. Although manufacturers attempt to deliver food that is virtually pest free, they do not always succeed.

A question people frequently ask is what happens if they ingest infested food product. Since these insects do not contact disease containing surfaces and are thus do not transmit disease, there is no harm done to people or their pets if affected food is ingested.

As a moth, Indian Meal Moths goes through complete metamorphosis including egg, larvae (crawling stage), pupae (cocoon) and adult (flying moth). Therefore, if the infested food product is discovered and removed, and no other food source exists, the life cycle of the moth may be interrupted.

If an infestation exists, sanitation i.e. removal of all infested food product, is key to managing this pest. Thus, the first step in managing an Indian Meal Moth problem is inspecting for and then removing infested food product.

The list of products to check includes milled foods such as flour, pasta, cereals, cornmeal, spices and most commonly, dry pet foods including (especially) bird seed. Other sources to check include dried fruits, dried flowers, nuts, rodenticide baits, food brought in by mice, rats or squirrels and even decorative wall hangings containing food products such as beans or spices. Be sure to check areas other than the kitchen or pantry where these items may be stored. Think about the nuts that have been left out in the living room in case company comes or some food product that you may have left up in the attic and forgotten about. Also, be sure to move appliances away from the wall to see if any food is hidden behind or underneath.

Once the suspect food or foods have been identified and removed, thoroughly vacuum the corners of all cabinet shelves or any area adjacent to the food storage area using the crevice tool attachment to remove any insects living in those areas. As a precaution, throw out the vacuum bag. All County Pest control uses many different control processes and techniques based on every individual situation. We use an IPM approach in dealing with every problem. This includes your help in the control process.

Our professional service technicians will initially interview you and gather information in regards to your current pest infestation. All pests need food, shelter and water to survive. When we arrive at your home, there may have been conducive conditions that no longer exist, but still may be contributing to the infestation.

In addition to making IPM Recommendations, treatment may include one or all of the following:

  • Interior liquid insecticide application to cracks & crevices along baseboards, cabinets, sill plates or any area where pest activity exists.
  • Injection of dust insecticide application to cracks & crevices or wall voids in areas of activity and insect harborage areas.
  • Exterior perimeter treatments with liquid insecticide using truck mounted power spray equipment. Treatment is designed to reduce ant population on the exterior, reduce harborage and to control and prevent insects from entering of the structure. Scope of this treatment is to foundation, adjacent grounds, decks, porches, patios, base of large trees, gardens, mulch areas, window & door frames, roof lines and any other insect harborage and entry points.
  • Exterior perimeter treatments with time-released granules.
  • Use of back pack or hand help spray equipment.

Ask about our Home Protection Plan, this is the best protection we can provide to control ants in and around your home. Ants are a constant threat to your home environment and with on-going inspection, treatment and correction of conducive conditions, All County can provide a much better living environment for you and your family.

Contact All County Pest Control to schedule your service today!