The larvae (known as “woolly bears”) of these small, oval beetles have outstripped the clothes moths as the major British textile pest. The Variegated Carpet Beetle is 2 to 4mm long, like a small, mottled brown, grey and cream ladybird. The related Fur Beetle is black with one spot on each wing case, and there is a rarer Black Carpet Beetle.
The larvae are small (about 4mm long), covered in brown hairs, and tend to roll up when disturbed.
As they grow, they moult – and the old cast-off skins may be the first sign of infestation. Adults are often seen in April, May and June, seeking egg-laying sites; and the grubs are most active in October before they hibernate.
The adult Carpet Beetle feeds only on pollen and nectar of garden flowers but lays its eggs in old birds’ nests, felt, fabric or accumulated fluff in buildings. It is the larvae from these eggs that do the damage. They feed on feathers, fur, hair, or wool and tend to wander along the pipes from roofs into airing cupboards – which house the clothes and blankets which constitute the food.
The life cycle takes about a year, and the grubs can survive starvation in hard times for several months.
Carpet beetle damage consists of fairly well-defined round holes along the seams of fabric where the grubs bite through the thread.
The commonest of the pest species of flea in Britain; it does not confine itself to cats.
Use only special veterinary products to treat affected domestic animals themselves. Pet bedding may be treated with any powder or aerosol product labelled for flea control. If the problem persists call a professional.
As mouse-killers their efficiency varies enormously. Few of them really come up to scratch. They cannot often get into areas where mice can live in a building.
In addition most house cats have lost the hunting ability of a good farm “mouser” and may even bring live rodents into properties.
Cats are unacceptable in food preparation areas and, indeed, wild cats breeding under hotels and hospitals can be reservoirs of flea infestation as well as causing problems with noise and smell.
Feral cat (or stray cat, alley cat) is a cat which has been separated from domestication through abandonment, loss, or running away, and becomes wild. The term may also refer to descendants of such cats, but not to wild cats, whose ancestors were never domesticated.
Feral cats may live alone but are usually found in large groups called feral colonies.
If you experience problems with any feral cats, or you are not sure, please contact a reputiable pest control company specializing in feral cats or alternatively contact your local RSPCA shelter.
A small shiny black fly with reddish eyes whose slender grubs “skip” by curving their body into a ring and releasing themselves.
The larvae burrow into cheese or ham and can cause internal irritation if eaten.
There are several species of clothes moths, all of them characterised by folding their wings tent-wise along their backs. The adult Common Clothes Moth is 6 to 7mm long with pale, plain golden-buff wings fringed with hair. The rarer Case-Bearing Clothes Moth, is duller and has three dark brown spots on each of its wings.
The adults do no damage when feeding.
It is the larvae which hatch from the sticky eggs that eat wool, hair, fur or feathers – with a preference for blankets, wool carpets, wool garments or upholstery that have been soiled with perspiration or food. The grubs are white caterpillars with golden-brown heads, which spin a hiding place of characteristic loose silk webbing, beneath which they feed.
They make irregular holes in textile fabrics and pupate as silken cocoons. The Case Bearing Clothes Moth grub produces an open ended cylindrical case of silk as it feeds, and attaches fibres of its food material to this in order to camouflage itself.
These are dark greyish flies about 8mm long with yellowish hairs on the back and with overlapping wings. In autumn they congregate in large numbers in upper rooms or roof spaces of houses to hibernate. A mass of cluster flies has a characteristic smell. They are sluggish in flight and are a nuisance in the house.
The larvae of one species are parasitic upon certain earthworms, so this species is more common in rural areas.