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Both the common or spotted fur beetle and the brown fur beetle usually live close to humans, but are quite undesirable because their larvae damage fabrics, carpets and clothing. And they are also feared intruders in museums.
The brown and the spotted fur beetle
The brown fur beetle is the smaller variant of this beetle species. He grows to four millimeters tall, has a dark brown to black pronotum and light brown wing covers, which are hairy. He is originally from Africa and was first discovered in Germany in the 1980s. The common fur beetle is up to six millimeters in size and has a black, densely hairy body, in which the hair turns out a bit lighter in places. He is found worldwide and rarely in the wild, where he feeds on carrion, but almost always in the vicinity of human settlements.
In spring, the females lay their eggs in apartments, where the hatched larvae can then cause great damage to leather, furs, textiles or carpets. Popular places for oviposition are those near hair and wool, because the larvae feed on keratin, which is contained in both. Several years can pass before an egg develops into a beetle; under optimal conditions it takes a year.
Fighting fur beetle larvae
For their development, fur beetle larvae need animal fibers, that is, fabrics made of animal skin or fur, wool or feathers. Especially these materials should therefore be regularly checked and cleaned when the fur beetle occurs. The removal of the hair or feathers of pets as well as human hair helps to deprive the larvae of food so that they do not develop further. Garments made from the materials mentioned can be protected with moth paper for a longer storage period and the beetles can be impeded from entering the flat by fly screens.
In already infested substances, the larvae can be killed by a two-hour storage in a cold room with at least -20° C. Another source of nourishment for the larvae is smoked meat and smoked fish, which should be kept safe if brown or spotted fur beetles are sighted in the house.
Control of fur beetle larvae with insecticides
Commercially, some insecticides are available that can be used in an infestation with fur beetles. They usually affect the nervous system and thus ensure a quick death. But since they are also dangerous for humans, they should be used with care, or in case of doubt better an exterminator should be brought to the rescue. Other sprays are made from pyrethrum, which is made from a variety of chrysanthemum species.
However, this substance has the disadvantage that it is poisonous to all insects, including the beneficial, and decomposes by light and so quickly loses its effectiveness. More harmless are tea tree or neem oil based remedies that work equally well, but are relatively harmless to humans and animals. Such pesticides are sprayed directly into the suspected hiding places of the larvae.