How to Identify Black Beetles

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Identify black beetles, often called carpet beetles, to determine if your home or warehouse has an infestation. The larva of these insects eat natural animal fibers and dry cereals. It's common to find an occasional specimen of this variety of beetle, but the presence of several usually indicates an infestation with larvae destroying fabric or contaminating food. Preventive practices can help avoid insect population, but serious cases call for professional pest control. Look for black beetles, their larvae and food sources to ensure against infestation.

How to Identify Black Beetles
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Step 1

Examine the adult beetles. Adult black beetles are about 1/8-inch long with the classic oval beetle shape. The head and wings that cover the body are typically shiny black, but they may show a deep reddish brown color. The adult beetle often is seen indoors on a windowsill or carpet.

Examine the adult beetles
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Step 2

Look at the larva. These crawling worms are 1/4-inch long with bristly tufts of hair and yellowish white and brown alternating horizontal stripes. The larvae are found in dark places that supply food such as furs, silks and wool items in storage, or boxes and bags of dry cereal or ground grain.

Look at the larva
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Step 3

Check the larva food supply. Damaged garments and contaminated foods will show signs of the black beetle larva. The larva molt 6 to 11 times in the course of one to three years at this developmental stage. The shed skins look just like the larva themselves. These remains distinguish black beetle larvae from moth larvae that leave webs behind on eaten fabrics.

Check the larva food supply
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Tips & Warnings

  • Clean with regular vacuuming to prevent black beetle infestation. Pay special attention to carpets containing animal fiber near walls and baseboards.
  • Use caution when applying insecticides for pest control. Check with a local government agency for a list of pesticides approved for use in your area.
  • Hire a professional pest control operator for infestations beyond your reach. Black beetles may originate behind walls where the larvae may feed on the fur of a dead animal.

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