Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Doot Dots

With carbon molecule for size
There was a dot on my wall the other day. Looked a lot like a house fly doot, except it was moving. Ambulatory poop always merits close inspection.

Tiny little sucker though. I couldn't even focus on it so I took a picture and blew it up. Sure enough it was a working beetle of some kind--possibly a pet for a ladybug. A few days later I saw another one. Then a dead one. Then a couple more live ones. The Doot Dots were trending.

So I looked them up on the internet, which has everything. And the very first photo that came up was my guy. He's a Carpet Beetle. He just mates and dies, but his babies eat carpets.

It's always a bad sign when the first ten pages of Google hits on a subject are from pest control outfits. And how could there have been carpet beetles all this time and I've never heard of them until now?

What else is out there that I don't know about? Linoleum flies? Chintz bugs? Wallboard weevils? I was a bit concerned because we have invested in good wool rugs. I finally found an article not written by an exterminator and discovered the following: carpet beetle larvae feed on animal-based items such as feathers, silk, wool, and fur. The adults like to mate near a light source, so I assume they do not engage in body-shaming, even though, like most beetles, they're awfully round. My beetles are true to form. They're mostly on a guest bed that Tater cat prefers. The pillow is a feather pillow and the pillowcase is felted in cat fuzz. Plenty to graze on. And there's a window right above it. Bada-beetle-boom.

Really, despite the exterminators' best efforts, it was hard to work up a good lather about the carpet beetles. They aren't really big enough to do a ton of damage in a hurry. And they prefer to dine undisturbed, so even going around scaring your linens once in a while might be sufficient to deter them.

Where they are really of concern is in museums and taxidermy shops. They like to eat dead insects and if you happen to have a valuable dead insect collection you're definitely going to want to monitor for the beetles. My own dead insect collection, which I store mainly in cold-air vents and light fixtures, is still purely at the hobby level.

And I had only the one plan for taxidermy. I was going to be stuffed upon my demise and mounted in a zombie pose inside a sheetrock partition somewhere so I can make a final impression on whoever eventually does the demolition. Now I have to worry that my victim will be only momentarily startled and then go "Oh, look, carpet beetle damage. That's not alive."

Anyway I'm not planning to do much about them at this point. It says here they're drawn to "stored or rarely used items such as pet dander," which is a concern. It's so hard to throw away your pet dander because you know just as soon as you do, you're going to need it.

The adults do fly and that's considered a nuisance by some, but I'm not sure I'll be able to distinguish them from my eyeball floaters. They're preyed upon by ants but I'm not about to introduce an ant population to clean up my carpet beetles. I know that song. Eventually somebody swallows a horse, and they die, of course.

Really, all they say to do is vacuum regularly and move your stuff around. Essentially, the beetles succumb to normal household hygiene. So it looks like ours will be around for a while.

They'll chew away at the fabric of our lives under cover of darkness and we won't even know the extent of the damage until it's too late. Nothing to do but vote the little suckers out.

29 comments:

  1. Y'know... it's hard to get worked up over carpet beetles after you find out that there are microscopic mites living in your eyelashes. Can't remember where I read about it, but that sounds like something you may have posted about at one time.

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    1. Why, yes indeedy it do. They don't poop until they die on your face. Yes.

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  2. Were there no beetles before the invention of carpets? Or a carpets eternal and is that really god on your floor? We should worship carpet beetles as messengers of the gods or god snackers. Have I been godsnacked or what?
    Psst! Hey buddy, do you want to try some of this?

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  3. My house is full of spiders and they leave spider poop everywhere which requires a chisel to remove. So no sympathy here.

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    1. My house is also full of spiders but I don't think I've ever noticed any poop. Now I'm wondering.

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    2. I've seen spider poop, but it's so tiny that you can barely see it. What kind of spiders does Tabor have? Tarantulas?

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    3. Perhaps it's a spider poop build-up, like the guano on those islands.

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    4. I'd love to think that spiders go in the same place every time, like they have a latrine.

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  4. Very funny stuff, Murr. I'll be coming back to this one from time to time to see what wondrous comments your crew leaves. I wish I could chime in but it's too damn hot & humid to think.

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    1. We're having the greatest weather here. I'm astonished. I was anticipating the worst (hottest) and we still have August to go, but most days have been 78 degrees with a light breeze.

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  5. I took a wool rug to be cleaned and the shop owner told me that carpet beetles had been munching on the rug. I said that I had read that they like living in the dark, and that the room definitely wasn't dark. He replied that under the rug it is.
    Damn beetles, smarter than I am.

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    1. Sometimes we just don't think things all the way through. This reminds me of when Julie Zickefoose mentioned the chickadee nests have a nice tunnel in the middle for the eggs and I reported that mine were flat like a mattress. She said, well sure, once they hatch and stomp all over it for a couple weeks. D'Oh!

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  6. They say every house has carpet beetles. We just don't notice them, mostly. I think the adults are cute, but anytime I find a larva, it goes into solitary confinement; one ate holes in my favourite sweater a long time ago. But they're useful for cleaning up stray skulls that I might have lying around.

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    1. I think that's what most people use them for.

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  7. I’ve had damage to my knitted shawls from these fiends. And a long time back, they ruined a bunch of buttons I had sitting in a knitting basket, waiting to be attached to a sweater-in-progress. Turns out the buttons were made of horn and quite irresistible. But then, I’ve seldom maintained “normal household hygiene” in any consistent way.

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    1. How could this be such a "thing" and I've only just noticed them???

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  8. "Normal household hygiene!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I do try to vacuum in a cursory fashion once a week, whether it needs it or not, but other than that... I'm sure I have a lot of these doot dots, but I can't see them for all the other stuff.

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    1. There is so much serenity to be gained by lowering your standards.

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    2. Amen to that. Although if I lowered my standards any further I'd need a post-hole digger to retrieve them.

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    3. I like to think I'm maintaining tiny ecosystems.

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  9. "Normal household hygiene" has me laughing and cringing at the same time. We have tiny moths that also feed on pet fur. What do you do? Tell the cats to stop shedding? Spend fifty percent of your life vacuuming? I think that's what it takes once these things get a toehold.

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    1. If only they could feed on the cat fur whilst it is still on the cat.

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  10. I don't have any carpets or rugs, just a couple of fluffy bathroom mats, because they're washable, so I don't really worry about things like carpet beetles. But now I've learned they like feathers and pet hair I guess I'm going to have to drag out the vacuum cleaner after all. I have two feather pillows and a feather doona, plus the rest of the place is covered in cat hair and probably dander too.

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    1. Housecleaning tip: if you leave the cat hair undisturbed for several years, you can roll it up all at once like a felt.

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    2. So I could wait until the cat dies then do it all at once? But she's only ten.

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    3. The thicker the felt, the easier it rolls.

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  11. Don't you ever see their kids? Technically, I think they come as a package deal, pre doot dot.

    https://aeshnacaerulea.blogspot.com/2010/10/habitat-destruction-at-tense-towers.html

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    1. That's a great post, and how about that! I read it JUST after leaving the comment about maintaining ecosystems! Great minds...

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