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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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