Varied carpet beetles are 1/10-inch long black beetles with irregular patterns of white, brown, and yellow scales on their hard wing covers (Figure 1). The adults are active in early spring after completing their development indoors. Attracted to sunlight, they fly to windows in early spring as they attempt to move outdoors to feed on nectar and pollen.
The hairy, caterpillar-like larvae (Figure 2) prefer dark, protected places – drawers, stuffed furniture, closets, etc. They feed on a variety of natural products, including wool, silk, and cotton; furs, feathers, and hair; processed meals and mixes; spices, cereals, crumbs; and dried pet foods. They also feed on accumulations of dead insects in ceiling light fixtures, wall voids, and attics, and on shed pet hair. These insects are common in homes or buildings having problems with fall accidental invaders, such as cluster flies and boxelder bugs.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist