Insect Pests


Carpet Beetles


The carpet beetle, Anthrenus scrophulariae is a member of the family of dermestids, and is a particularly destructive pest. The adults are small, about 1/7 inch in length and are black,white and red or brown in colour. The larvae are much larger, about 1/4 inch in length, and covered with long brown hairs. This beetle is native to Europe and was imported into North America in the mid 19th century. It is destructive only in the larval stage, but as the adults consume flower pollen, they may enter a house in search of food. Larvae will consume any object composed of keratin, this includes wool, fur, bone and feathers. Also, dead insect remains will attract carpet beetle larvae.

Beetles can be caught in sticky traps and infested objects should be frozen in order to kill beetle larvae and eggs.

Gallery of Horror


At first glance, this powder horn appears to have been gnawed by a mouse. Close inspection revealed an absence of teeth marks that are typical of rodent damage. The damage was in fact caused by carpet beetle larvae.


In contrast, the chisel-like teeth marks left by a mouse on this buff leather belt are very obvious.


A large number of asymetrical holes are also typical of carpet beetle attack.

Preventative Conservation Measures

Damage to artifacts by beetles can be avoided or minimised by:
1.Inspection of the artifact immediately upon acquisition.
2.Freezing suspect artifacts.
3.Cleaning the artifact.
4.Storage or display in a proper environment.
5.Inspections on a regular basis.
6.Good housekeeping and cleaning procedures.

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