Welcome to Spring (AKA: Pollen season has started)
Some people see the signs of spring as daffodils, trees starting to bud and flower, warmer temperatures, or even the cacophony of birds coming back. I don’t. The first signs of spring to me are the carpenter bees and the carpet beetles. I talked about carpenter bees last year so go re-read that one. Today, I’m talking about the varied carpet beetles.
These little beetles start showing up in spring because they have overwintered as adults. Now that it is warmer, the adults are out looking for some love. Because so many of them are out, some find their way indoors through open windows, doors, vents, or other openings. Since many are opening their windows for the first time since last year, the winter storms may have damaged screens and frames, therefore, even more little beetles gaining entry.
Let’s back up a minute and talk about the basics of these. They are part of the larger family of Dermestid beetles which is important because there are a number of other beetles that look similar. While the varied carpet beetle could establish inside, it’s typically an accidental invader: the adults get in but they don’t necessarily find a food source and reproduce. Especially when they are found early and dealt with. Others in the family will often be infesting food inside structures. Here’s a great resource to help with identification.
As previously stated, these overwinter as adults and emerge in the spring. The adults go after flowers for the nectar and pollen. Hence being out in spring when the pollen levels are atrocious. Once they mate, the females lay around 50 eggs, typically in bird nests. The bird nests have the old feathers and bits of leftover bird food (typically proteins from insects but seeds too) that the larvae will feed and develop on.
If they do get indoors, it’s important to keep an eye on food sources that are high in protein like nuts, seeds, powdered milk, and dried meats. If those are stored in air-tight containers, the beetles can’t get in. But if products are open (like open bags of pet food or spilled powder in a pantry), the beetles can potentially become established. The adult lifespan is around 70 days if they have adequate food.
Of course, the name “carpet beetle” refers to the fact that they eat carpets...carpets that are made of animal fibers like wool. Synthetic carpets are safe but check for furs and animal skins. These beetles can be a very serious problem in museums.
Personally, I think these are pretty. The yellow and black and white pattern of scales on the adult wing covers are nice. Remember – yellow is for pollen!
There are a number of sping “invaders” that start up around this time of year and naturally find a few openings to get into structures. If you’ve been struggling with any of these, contact us, we can help!
Urban entomology consultants