Beetles in larval stage eat fabrics

GARDEN Q & A

December 02, 2006|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to The Sun

I'm having my home fumigated for carpet beetles next week. Are the beetles or larvae harmful to humans? Do they only eat fabrics? How do I clean clothes (that I don't dry clean) to get rid of larvae and eggs?

Carpet beetles and larvae are not harmful to humans. Adult carpet beetles do not damage fabrics. They feed outdoors on pollen but sometimes enter homes and lay eggs in unclean woolen goods, cracks and concealed places. Hatched larvae feed on accumulated lint, pet hair, food crumbs, dead insects and other organic debris. Larvae do damage fabrics, fur, or anything made of animal fibers, wool-synthetic blends or synthetic fabrics stained with urine or sweat. Hand washing woolens with soap should kill them. Prevention is the best control. Chemical control is a last resort only appropriate for major infestations. For more detailed help with stopping carpet beetles, call us or go to our Web site publication.

Checklist

Prevent fungus gnat problems around houseplants by allowing the top of potting soil to dry out between watering.

Ticks remain active as long as temperatures exceed 45 to 50 degrees. Check yourself for ticks when hiking or doing yard work on mild days.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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