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When it comes to certain kinds of pests, your home or garden is typically safe in the autumn and winter months.
Those seasons are too cold for insects to stay alive and thrive without hibernating, or it’s too early for their eggs to hatch.
However, come springtime, it’s Carpet Beetle vs. Lady Bug: A Tale Of Two Pests in your home and garden.
In this article, we will discuss the signs and characteristics of each, how to manage their infestations, as well as how to avoid them.
As their name suggests, carpet beetles are mainly found in carpets.
However, they don’t limit themselves to carpets.
They’re also in feathers, wool, cashmere, lint, human hair, inside of vents, ducts, and in the debris around baseboards.
Strangely, they’re also found in potpourri and dried flower arrangements, especially if they contain cattails.
If there are natural fibers, human hair, or pet fur, you can certainly find carpet beetles.
Not only do they go after the carpet, but they go after furniture, curtains, or anything else with natural fiber.
Proper identification is the key to eliminating many household and garden pests.
One elimination method may not work on a pest it was not designed for.
While there are many species of carpet beetles most adults are black with orange, white, or yellow patterns.
They are oval-shaped and grow up anywhere from 1 to 4 mm in length.
Their white or cream-colored eggs are also oval, and measure ¼ to ½ mm in length.
One distinguishing characteristic they have is that the eggs have spine-like projections at one end.
As for their larvae, they are oval and 4 to 5 mm in length coarse hair on the back. They are either brown and yellow, brown, or have brown and white stripes.
Signs of Carpet Beetles
Just like there are signs that a plant needs water or that a pet is ill, there are signs to look for if you suspect that you may have issues with carpet beetles.
These signs include:
- Shed larval skins. As the larvae of carpet beetles grow, they will molt several times. However, they leave their empty skins around the house where they normally feed. This leads to an accumulation of larvae skins. You can search for these shed skins on clothing, in corners where pet hair or lint accumulates, under furniture, rugs, or even in wool blankets.
- Damage to objects with natural fibers. The larvae love to eat fabric, either leaving holes or basal threads behind. This could be fabric on clothing, wool, blankets, furniture, and other items. They also love going after items that hadn’t been cleaned before storage.
- Bald spots on furs or trophy heads. The larvae will also go after furs, bristles on brushes, or even animal mounts. They won’t harm the hide underneath the hair but will leave bald spots on the item, much to the owner’s consternation.
It’s hard to believe that these cute, beautiful insects can cause so many problems in your home.
As a child, these insects brought smiles to many as they crawled along to their destinations.
Ladybugs normally eat aphids, which are serious plant pests.
They also eat other insects that have soft bodies, such as whiteflies, mites, and cicadas.
While they are beneficial to gardens, with pollen as another source of food for them, they do not belong in the house.
Inside your home, they will wreak havoc upon your home as they invade in numbers.
The lifespan of a ladybug is between two and three years. A ladybug is between 0.3 and 0.4 inches in length with black spots on their wing coverings that are half-spherical in shape.
Their adult coloring range from scarlet red to yellow, but are born black.
Females deposit up to 300 eggs after mating and two to five days alter a larvae hatches and immediately start eating anything it can find, particularly aphids.
From larvae, they become pupae for a week before emerging as an adult ladybug.
When in the larval stage, the pupae produce a repellent so adult ladybugs won’t mistake them for prey and eat them accidentally.
As an adult, ladybugs can secrete a malodorous liquid from their legs to ward off predators.
Signs of a ladybug infestation
While worrying about a ladybug invasion in your home seems somewhat amusing as these cute bugs are harmless to your garden, a swarm of ladybugs in your home is no laughing matter.
One reason is that a large infestation of ladybugs elicits allergic reactions ranging from hives, wheezing, and itchy skin.
Ladybugs like to accumulate in several areas of your home, such as door jams, windowpanes, ceilings, and behind walls.
They’re even found within the foundations of business and in cracks and crevices.
They like to come inside when the temperature drops and are typically noticeable when they start to leave the swelling after waking up during the spring months.
Other than finding ladybugs looking for a way outside, another sign of their presence is a yellow foul-smelling secretion that’s from their blood.
They use it to warn off predators, but can be found on the walls and windowsills, as well as clothing and carpets.
Carpet Beetle vs. Lady Bug: How To Manage Their Infestations
As with any unwanted infestation, it’s only natural to want to find a way to not only remove the infestation but take steps to prevent an infestation from happening again in the future.
Taking care of a carpet beetle infestation
Once you’ve verified that you have an infestation of carpet beetles, the next step is massive cleaning for the entire residence.
These steps include:
- Cleaning every surface with vinegar. Using equal parts water and vinegar, wipe down every surface you see. This includes coat hangers, walls, ceilings, shelves, cupboards, drawers, windowsills, doors, etc. Once you have wiped the surface with vinegar, allow it to air dry.
- Vacuum everywhere. This step is going to take a while as you’re going to have to vacuum everywhere in your home that can be vacuumed. This includes curtains, rugs, pet bedding, your bedding, stairs, furniture, blankets, etc.. Be sure to include the laundry area and storage rooms.
- Launder everything. It might not have been laundry day when you woke up, but now it is. Now you have to wash and dry all your clothing, bedding, and curtains. It’s also a good idea to wash and dry any clothing you have stored that isn’t packed into an airtight box. If any item is beyond repair, discard them.
- If you have a steam cleaner, then be sure to use it with hot, spay water. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from a local hardware store or hire a professional to help.
Taking care of a ladybug infestation
Once ladybugs get into your home, they are difficult to remove.
Due to their status as a cute little garden helper, the goal is to remove and relocate rather than eradicate.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Purchase a Ladybug Light Trap. This attracts them and you can relocate them outdoors
- Place a stocking inside your vacuum hose and secure it to the rim. The ladybugs will collect in the stocking and you can relocate them safely outside.
Before winter comes, caulk all openings and cracks around windows and doors.
Also, check for visible damage to your home’s exterior.
That way ladybugs can’t get in. The scent of mint, citrus, or chrysanthemums repels ladybugs.
As for carpet beetles, mothballs repel them, but leaves clothing smelly.
Don’t store clothing in basements, attics, or garages and use plastic storage instead of boxes.
Make sure to properly launder clothing before storage.
Taking proper steps for prevention takes far less time and effort than it does to fix an issue, such as removing an infestation from the home.