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Carpet beetles

Article author: Wizzie Brown
Most recently reviewed by: Blayne Reed (2021)

Common Name(s): black carpet beetle, common carpet beetle, furniture carpet beetle, varied carpet beetle

Description

Eggs are white, oval, and less than a millimeter in size.

Larvae are elongated (1/8-1/4 inch) and tan to brown in color with stiff hairs coming off of the body.  Larval color can vary based upon the color of food larvae are feeding upon. They have well developed legs and are capable of moving about, but do so slowly. As larvae grow larger, they leave shed exoskeletons behind.

Pupation either occurs in the last larval skin or in a sheltered location near where the larvae were feeding.

Adult beetles are round to oval in shape and are small in size (1/16- 1/8 inch).  The hardened wings, elytra, are covered with scales.  Color can vary dependent upon the species of carpet beetle from mottled browns and cream to mottled cream and brown to solid black.

 

Origin and Distribution

Carpet beetles can be found worldwide.

Habitat & Hosts

Carpet beetles adults can be found outdoors on crape myrtles or other plants where the adults eat pollen and nectar. When adult carpet beetles are found indoors, it is often near doors and windows where they are attracted by sunlight. Adults may also be found in rodent or bird nests.  When adults move into homes, they may lay eggs which can lead to problems. These beetles can be pests in warehouses, homes, museums and other locations.

Carpet beetle larvae feed on high protein foods, usually animal based, but they can also feed on plant material. They can be found in a variety of locations throughout the home. In the pantry, you may find them in items such as powdered milk, dried meats (jerky), or pet food. Other areas of the home they can be attracted to items made from wool, fur or feathers, areas where dead insects accumulate (i.e. light fixtures), leather book bindings, hair, silk or dried plant products. If the larvae are seen feeding on synthetic fibers, it is because the material is stained with body oils or food.

Life Cycle

Complete life cycle: egg- larva- pupa- adult

Eggs (50-100) are laid by adult females near food sources.  Larvae hatch out after about two weeks and begin to feed.  There can be from 6-12 instars (larval stages) and it can take two to six months before pupation occurs.  Adults emerge from the pupae after about 1-2 weeks.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

A program utilizing sanitation, exclusion and insecticides should be able to get a carpet beetle problem under control.

  • Clean accumulations of hair, dead insects, and bird, rodent or wasp nests
  • Regularly clean rugs, carpets, upholstery, etc.
    • make sure to get along edges, under cushions, and under furniture where debris may collect
  • Inspect animal based items (taxidermied animals, leather, feathers, wool, silk, etc.) once a year to avoid infestations
  • Keep pantry items/ dry goods in sealed, air-tight containers
  • Infested items (if possible, depending on the items) can be heated or cooled to kill any beetles
    • freeze 2 weeks at temperatures below 18°F
    • heat for at least 30 minutes to temperatures above 120°F
  • Insecticides should be used as spot treatments- make sure carpet beetles are listed on the label as well as the area/ item you are treating
    • make sure the product will not stain

If you find a few adult carpet beetles in your home, squish them and vacuum them up.  A few adults usually do not warrant a full treatment, but you should watch for a developing infestation.

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Black-and-Yellow Argiope

Article author:
Most recently reviewed by: David Kerns & Janet Hurley (2020)

Common Name(s): argiope, Corn Spider, Yellow garden spider, Zipper Spider

Description

Argiope aurantia female and male. Photo by Tony Bartlett.

The word Argiope means “with a bright face” in Latin. Like all spiders, they have a cephalothorax, abdomen, eight legs, fangs, and a silk spinner. Being an orb weaver, spiders in the genus Argiope spp. have a unique third claw on each leg that is used to assist in the weaving of the spider’s complex webs. Their webs are often large and have a zig-zag pattern in the center. The reason for this pattern is unknown, though it is thought that it may be used to attract prey. Argiope spp. spiders consume and rebuild their web every day. Known for their black and yellow patterns on their body, and occasionally an orange and/or black pattern on their legs, these spiders are incredibly beautiful and easily recognized. As with most spiders the females of this genus are larger than their male counterparts. Females are usually around ¾” to 1 ⅛” while males are usually ¼” to ⅜” in size.

Origin and Distribution

Found all over the world and in the lower 48 states of the U.S.A

Habitat & Hosts

Argiope spp.  spiders are not a pest in the traditional sense of the word as they do not feed on crops or garden plants, but to those who are afraid of spiders it can be considered a pest. As with most spiders, Argiope spp. are beneficial organisms because they kill and consume insect pests that damage crops and garden plants.

Life Cycle

Argiope spp. mate once a year. Mature male spiders roam in search of potential mates. Once a suitable mate has been found, the male then builds a web with a zig-zag pattern either in the middle of or on the outer area of the female’s web and begins to pluck the female’s web as a courting gesture. Once impregnated females lay one or more egg sacs in her web close to her resting position. Each egg sac contains anywhere between 300 to 1400 eggs. The mother watches over her eggs but will usually die at the first hard frost. Spiders usually hatch around autumn or summer and look similar to their adult counterparts. Most spiders usually live for around a year though some females can live for multiple years in warmer climates. Most males usually die after mating.

Citations

Hammond, G. 2002. “Argiope aurantia” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Argiope_aurantia/

Hawkinson, C. ND, “Galveston Master Gardeners Beneficials in the Garden, Black and Yellow Argiope Spider” (On-line), Aggie-Horticulture, Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-24_spider_blackandyellow_argiope.htm

Murray, M. 2018. “What is a spider” (On-line), Australia Museum, Accessed April 17, 2020 at https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/species-identification/ask-an-expert/what-is-a-spiders/

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Brown recluse spider

Article author: Mike Merchant
Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter (2018)

Common Name(s): Brown recluse spider

Description

The color of the brown recluse spider varies from light brown to greyish spider, with slender legs extending over an area about the size of a quarter to a half-dollar. Two characteristics that help distinguish this spider from similar species include the dark violin-shaped marking on the back of the front portion of the body. The three pairs of eyes are arranged in a semicircle.

“Violin” shaped marking on the head and cephalothorax. Photo Credit: Bart Drees, AgriLife Extension.

Adult brown recluse spiders are most frequently seen during the spring months. Mating season in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, lasts from April to early July, during which time female spiders produce up to five egg sacs, containing about 50 eggs each. The length of time required for development to the adult stage is slightly less than a year, and in the laboratory, spiders have been observed to live for up to two and a half years.

Origin and Distribution

The best-known of the recluse spiders inhabits many of the Southern and Midwestern states.They are often found in garages, firewood piles, cluttered cellars, and piles of stored boards. Around homes they are often found around bathrooms, bedrooms and closets, under furniture, behind baseboards and door facings, or in corners and crevices. They are most active during the night when they hunt. People are often bitten while they are asleep after rolling over one in bed. Others are bitten while putting on clothes that have been hung undisturbed near where they are hiding.

Recluse spiders, as their name implies, are generally shy. They spin nondescript white or grayish webs, where they may hide during the day. They are predators of insects and other arthropods.

Habitat & Hosts

Brown recluse spiders are insect predators. When large numbers of spiders are present in a building it usually means that insect prey are also abundant. Common prey for spiders may include crickets, silverfish, cockroaches, etc.

Look in debris, under objects, piles of wood, utility boxes, storage areas, dark areas, clothing, boxes, furniture, clutter and stacks of things. Indoors,they are mostly found in undisturbed storage areas, such as closets, crawl spaces, basements and attics, especially those that are cluttered. These spiders hunt at night and hide during the day. They prefer to be in locations that are not occupied by human traffic. They usually run for cover when disturbed.

Life Cycle

Egg, spiderling (nymph) and adult.  Brown recluse spiders lay 1-2 egg masses per year in dark, sheltered areas. The egg cases are round, about 5/8 inch (1.6 cm) in diameter, flat on the bottom and convex on top. After 24 to 36 days the spider lings emerge from the egg case. Their slow development is influenced by their nutrition and environmental conditions.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

Making sure doors are well sealed and outdoor lighting is shielded to avoid attracting outdoor insects like crickets. Good sanitation, regular pest control, and vacuuming dead insects will also help reduce insect food for spiders.

Unnecessary clutter in the structure should be eliminated, spider webs should be removed from interior and exterior areas, and a thorough vacuuming should be undertaken around, under, and behind furniture. Brown recluse spiders are frequently found in and around boxes stored in closets and attics. Stored boxes should be tightly taped shut to eliminate the availability as a nesting site. Clutter removal is best done before your pest control professional arrives.

Sticky cards readily trap brown recluse spiders, and do provide some spider control. Placing sticky cards in out of the way locations, especially next to walls, in closets and under furniture, can not only remove some of the spider population, but will allow you and your pest control provider to track the effectiveness of your control efforts over time.

Extensive infestations often require the services of a pest management professional.

Related Publications

https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3003/

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