Will carpet beetle eggs survive the move?
August 14, 2010 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Exactly how fragile are black carpet beetle eggs?

I didn't know that those relatively friendly looking, black, oval-shaped bugs were any different than the occasional ant, fly, or spider. But now I know they are different -- they want to populate my house, eat my fabric-based stuff, and generally freak me out.

Also, I'm moving a few states away very soon.

A few online sources say that the eggs are fragile and won't survive if you "brush" your clothing/cloth material. One internet person who kept some captive larvae for a while said that they eventually laid eggs, but that they never hatched. I've read that the larvae like dark, undisturbed locations, and the adults like to lay eggs in those places.

So here's the scenario I'm wondering about:

A black carpet beetle lays eggs on something in my house, like a book or folder of papers. I don't notice the eggs, or don't clean the item well enough to remove all of the eggs. I pack the eggy item into a moving box, seal up the box, stick it in a u-haul, and move it to my new place. I unpack the box at some point, perhaps within a week or so.

Will these transported eggs be viable? Is the disruption and movement and potential exposure to light etc. enough to halt the development? I can't find any info about that.

I'm friggin out over here. I know carpet beetles are not like fleas or bedbugs and that they don't want anything to do with humans really, but I'm irrationally fearful.

btw, I know there are pesticides, natural and manmade, that I could use. But I really am curious about how the eggs do with moving, pesticides aside.
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They are somewhat fragile, but not nearly fragile enough. Since you're moving, this is kind of a critical issue. I know in tiny text you don't want to use pesticides, but Raid bombs will kill black carpet beetles and their larvae. I think in this case it's justified.

The problem is that in theory if you could pick up every single item you own, brush it off, and set it in the sunshine, that would probably do the trick. But the eggs are tiny, and get int the cracks and in between pages in books and inside the fibers of your couch, etc etc etc.

The only thing that can provide the kind of into-every-nook-and-cranny penetration you need is a bug bomb.
posted by ErikaB at 9:33 AM on August 14, 2010

I have no idea how fragile the eggs are, but we had carpet beetles a few months ago and we only ever found one or two larvae. We got an exterminator in (our landlord paid for it) and after that, we only found dead beetles. He warned us, though, that if there were any larvae that hadn't hatched yet, the spray wouldn't kill them and they could hatch -- we never had that problem though. So my advice would be to get an exterminator in for your peace of mind and for the benefit of the next person living there, and keep an eye out for the larvae. Look carefully at all your animal fibres (wool, silk, etc -- they won't eat cotton, apparently) and leather-bound books and physically check for them. But seriously, get an exterminator. We had a couple months of freaking out with them before we called and I wish we had done it sooner.
posted by pised at 9:50 AM on August 14, 2010

This is purely anecdotal, but I've lived in several places where I had an annoying amount of carpet beetles. In each case I never brought them with me when I moved or took many precautions, and I've never had a carpet beetle problem at two places in a row. So it seems that for me, their appearance inside has always been related to the environment outside leading to the adult beetles coming inside.

In the first place, where I had the worst problem, I tons of the larvae until I got rid of the major source of infestation (a sweater), but I never stopped seeing them entirely. When I eventually moved I didn't really take any special precautions, except to make sure I didn't actually pack any live larvae. In the whole time I lived at my next apartment I only saw one larvae and it was a different species (furry!) so I assume it was unrelated to my previous beetle problem.

The thing that comforted me is that at least for the species I've ended was dealing with the most (black carpet beetle) the life cycle of the larvae is really long. It can be up to a year--so you really have a long time to take care of the larvae. It's not a situation where you are hosting their great-great-grandbeetles in just a few months.

Once I learned what carpet beetles were (that first infestation took me by surprise) I started being diligent about their food sources. I keep an eye on my wool in the summer rather than just piling it in a heap in the back of my closet. I keep grains in glass jars in the kitchen. If you do that, it is not too hard to interrupt their life cycle before it becomes a problem. Since that first infestation I've never had a serious problem with them.
posted by everybody polka at 10:21 AM on August 14, 2010

Mmm, I was given a very nice wool area rug that had some kind of horsehair underlay. If I had known it was being stored in an outside shed, I would have never, ever, ever let it in my house.

That was three homes ago, and the rug is long gone, and I still find one of those little hairy carrot-looking bastards now and again.

Kill them when you see them, use a real live vacuum cleaner, store your freshly-cleaned out-of-season clothes in sealed plastic, and don't let dust bunnies live under your bed, because these things can happily eat shed hair.

If you have a cat or other fur bearing varmint, line her bed with a towel or something you can wash on the "hot" setting.
posted by Sallyfur at 6:52 PM on August 14, 2010

« Older Getting over rejection.   |   Does my power amp work? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.