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Insect life cycle

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Fine Carpet, Aubusson,Tapestry cleansing & restoration'


BeharProfex Ltd
The Alban Building
St. Albans Place
Upper Street

London N1 0NX
(UK)Tel: +44 (0)20 7226 0144
Fax: +44 (0)20 7359 4795

Insects-so small you hardly notice them-may be doing damage to garments and other textile items around your home. Generally, you aren't aware of them until its too late. And the babies are the culprits-eating their way through your sweaters, jackets, and pants, or wool rugs and needlework as they mature. Their mothers and fathers do no damage-except to leave behind their eggs from which the hungry larvae hatch.

Most people know that clothes moths can do considerable damage, but carpet beetles can cause extensive damage if they are not controlled. Clothes moth larvae are usually found on their food material. Carpet beetle larvae are more adventurous and may crawl from one room to another, or from one apartment to another. They also can be found in bird and rodent nests.


Mature insects deposit eggs in a variety of locations-clothing, upholstery, rugs or carpet, toys, animal skins or trophies, and even natural-bristle brushes. As the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed on animal-based materials: silk, wool, feathers, and leather. They also have been known to eat fabrics blended with wool and items soiled with food stains or body oils.

Eggs and larvae of moths and beetles can be carried into homes on articles containing wool or other animal fibers. Items such as secondhand furniture, upholstered furniture, and other home furnishings can be home for these pests. Clothes moth eggs or larvae also can hide in woolen fabrics or rugs.

Adult clothes moths prefer darkness and quickly hide when they are disturbed. Clothes moths are not the moths seen flitting about lights. Adult clothes moths are about 1/2 inch long and light tan in color. They have narrow wings and prefer darkness.

Adult carpet beetles are attracted to the sunlight and are known to feed outdoors on pollen of flowers. The most common adult carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped insects that are black with varied patterns of orange and white. They are sometimes mistaken for common garden lady beetles because of their similar size and shape.

Two types of clothes moths damage textile items. Casemaking clothes moth larvae (cream-colored caterpillars less than 1/2 inch long) spin protective cases incorporating pieces of the items they are eating. The cases, which they drag along as they move, eventually become tough cocoons in which the insect pupae develop into adult moths. Webbing clothes moths spin a silken web to form feeding tubes that they attach to the item being eaten. See fig. 1.

Fig. 1
Webbing clothes moth                                    Casemaking clothes moth
Tineola bisselliela (Hummel)                          Tinea pellionella (Linneaus)

Carpet beetle larvae (about 1/8-1/4 inch long and covered with hairs or bristles) do not spin webs or make cocoons. (fig. 2) As they mature, they shed their skins, which look like living larvae. Carpet beetles crawl from place to place as they eat, but may be found in areas that do not provide any food. Fecal pellets are found where beetles have been feeding.

Fig. 2. The life cycle of the carpet beetle. Carpet beetles undergo complete metamorphosis. The adult lives 20 to 60 days and lays 30 to 100 eggs, which hatch in 6 to 20 days. The larva lasts 60 to 325 days. Both the larval and adult stages damage fabric. (Actual size of adult 1/10-1/3 inch, or 2.5-5 mm).