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Varied carpet beetle

Varied carpet beetle

The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is a 3 mm–long beetle that can be a serious household pest. It feeds on natural fibers and can damage carpets, furniture and clothing.

Anthrenus verbasci has an unusual life cycle for an insect, developing from larvae to adult in 1-3 years, depending on the environmental conditions. Larvae hatch from eggs in the spring and early summer, often in the nests of birds (including those of the House Sparrow and House Swift) or around stored fabrics.

Larvae feed on natural fibers throughout their development, eventually experiencing a dormancy period (also known as diapause) prior to pupation into the adult stage. The length of the dormancy appears to depend on environmental factors.

Adults emerge between late May and early August, flying to and feeding on the pollen of flowering plants. During this period, mating occurs, eggs are laid, and the cycle begins anew. Adult beetles usually lay their eggs in air ducts, in closets, under furniture, or under baseboards. Once hatched and until they pupate into adults, the larvae hide in dark, undisturbed areas and feed on organic material. The larvae are thus responsible for the damage of various items, such as furniture, clothing, blankets, furs, and carpets.

Collections of specimens, especially of insects, are also vulnerable to attack, making A. verbasci a common pest in museums.[8] Infestations can be prevented by regular vacuum cleaning, dry cleaning or airing clothing outside, placing naphthalene balls in closets, and removing abandoned bird and insect nests attached to the building. Signs of an infestation include the presence of damaged articles, molted larval skins in dark areas, and an abundance of adult beetles near windows.