Overview

Brief Summary

The black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor, is a serious household pest, the most common and most destructive of the carpet beetles in North America and Mexico (the other species being the common carpet beetle, furniture carpet beetle, the varied carpet beetle, all in the dermestid family). Attagenus unicolor is thought to have been brought to the states from Europe in the 1800s. This insect is particularly common in areas with lower relative humidity, as their eggs are susceptible to molding in humid conditions. The name carpet beetle derives from the damage these pests have historically incurred on wool carpets, but they are trouble in a much more general sense than simply carpets. In the larval stage, Attagenus unicolor will damage any product containing keratin (furs, feathers, leather, wool, silk, dried meat, dander, hair). They also do great damage to man-made synthetic products when they are mixed in with natural products (e.g. wool-synthetic yarn blends) because they need to eat more in order to satisfy their nutritional needs. In addition, black carpet beetles attack plant products (grains and cereals), making them a kitchen pest as well as a general household pest. Their destructive eating habits are much feared in museums. This species lives up to 650 days as a larva, depending on conditions. Larvae are carrot shaped, may reach up to almost 13 mms, and are covered with bristles with a distinguishing tuft of long hair on the back segment. The adults, elongated dark beetles about 3-5mm long, live up to two months and feed on flower pollen.

(Gahlfhoff 2010; Bughelp; Dill and Kirby 2010; Koehler and Oi 2003)

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Ecology

Associations

Flowering Plants Visited by Attagenus megatoma in Illinois

Attagenus megatoma Fabricius: Dermestidae, Coleoptera
(observations are from Robertson)

Apiaceae: Pastinaca sativa sn fq (Rb), Sium suave sn (Rb); Caprifoliaceae: Sambucus canadensis fp fq (Rb)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Attagenus unicolor

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Black carpet beetle

The black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor, is a beetle, 3–5 millimetres (0.12–0.20 in) long, that can be a serious household pest. The larvae grow to 7 mm (0.28 in) in length, are reddish brown in colour and covered with bristles. The larval form feeds on natural fibres, damaging carpets, furniture and clothing.

Life-Cycle[edit]

Attagenus unicolor undergoes complete metamorphosis, which has four different life stages: Egg larvae pupae adult Each stage looks different, and needs different amounts of time to reach the next stage.

Eggs are usually laid near or on a food source, if no food source can be found the female will lay them in dark undisturbed locations, where the larvae can feed on carpeting, or clothing that they find nearby, although most of the time they are laid on the clothing itself. They will also lay eggs on or near dog food/other pet food. Eggs take anywhere from 5-20 days to hatch depending on the conditions, such as temperature and humidity.


Larvae are small when they hatch from the egg, about 1mm in size, they grow fairly quickly depending on the food source availability and protein found in the food itself. Larvae moult about 10-15 times, or more depending on conditions. Sometimes if food is scarce they will Retro-Moult with the larvae moulting into a lower instar. They can do this multiple times, if they are large enough. But most of the time they don't require to do this as the food sources are plenty, and they aren't too picky about what they eat. The larvae stage is the longest stage and the destructive stage, they can remain larvae for up to 3 yrs. But it usually doesn't take longer than 3 months to go through the larvae stage if food and conditions are good. Larvae pupate in undisturbed locations, far away from the food source so that they aren't cannibalized.

Pupae are cream white but quickly turn yellow and darken with age. They do not eat in this stage nor move. They transform into the beetles in about 8-20 days, depending on the conditions. The beetle may stay in the shedded pupae case for an additional day or two.

Beetles start out white but darken with age, they do not eat [although sometimes they will eat flower pollen in the wild, but not indoors] and only live for a few weeks, just long enough to mate and lay more eggs. They are eventually black in colour. Hence the name Black Carpet Beetle. Females are capable of laying 50-100 eggs.

The whole Life-Cycle under ideal conditions takes about 4-5 months, or less if given protein rich food, such as pet food. The adult females will lay more eggs if water is present in small amounts.

See also[edit]

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