Carpet Beetles

Fabric or textile pest infestations sometimes present the most difficult problems a pest management technician can encounter. Except for fumigation, pesticide use alone is never an effective control for textile pest problems.
Textiles that are infested and consumed by pests are usually wool-based such as woolen clothing, carpets, and tapestries. Two types of insects are responsible for the usual woolen fabric damage but by their nature these pests, carpet beetles and clothes moths, feed on a broader diet than wool alone. Besides textiles made of processed wool, many other substances with high-protein content are eaten by these insects. One particular protein, keratin, is present in wool and other hair or fur. The same material is also found in feathers, skins, horns and hoofs. Other materials that are high in protein are insect bodies, pollen, silk, grains and seeds (particularly the "germ" as in wheat germ or non starchy portions). Insects are the only animals capable of digesting keratin. Only a few microorganisms and fungi in other kingdoms are keratin reducers.

Fabric pests, carpet beetles and clothes moths, developed as scavengers, consuming feathers, fur and hide of dead birds and mammals. Many species feed on dead insects, the molted skins and pupal cases of moths, silkworms, tent caterpillars, mud daubers, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, dead bees and pollen.

Textile pests are generally secretive and develop on food that decomposes slowly. As populations of textile pests increase, individual adults and mature larvae migrate away from the infestation to mate or pupate in protected solitude. This activity often is the only signal that a pest infestation is present. The four groups of carpet beetles and two species of clothes moths can be identified from specimens of either adults or larvae.