Textile Pest Species

Textile pests are scavengers of natural fibres such as wools, silks, feathers, animal hair and fur. Damage is done by the larval stage of the beetle, while adults feed on flowers and shrubs.

Some species are associated with decaying carcasses and are used in taxidermy and by natural history museums to clean animal skeletons.

Learn more below about commonly found textile pest species in the UK:

Varied Carpet Beetle

(Anthrenus verbasci)

Varied Carpet beetles are a common pest in museums and homes



  • 3 mm long, ladybird shape.
  • Patterns vary according to species but often a mixture of black, white and yellow.
  • Larva — 4–5 mm long.
  • Brown and hairy with three bunches of spear–headed hairs either side of the rear segments.
  • Pupa — formed in the last larval skin. Duration 10 to 30 days.

Life Cycle

Normally one generation per year but possibly two in warm temperatures.

Fur Beetle

(Attagenus pellio)

The larvae of Fur Beetle commonly attack furs, skins, woollens, etc. and stored grain.



  • Adult — 4–6 mm long.
  • Elongate oval.
  • One small patch of white on each wing case, otherwise red–brown to black.
  • Larva — 6 mm long. Long orange tufts of hair on the last abdominal segment. Larvae have a banded appearance.
  • Pupa — formed in the last larval skin.

Life Cycle

Mating takes place outdoors after which they fly indoors to lay eggs.
Normally one generation per year but development may extend to three years depending on environmental conditions.


  • A common inhabitant of birds’ nests.
  • Adults feed outdoors often on Spiraea plants.

Leather Beetle

(Dermestes maculatus)

The Leather Beetle is also known as Skin or Hide beetle. Some species, commonly called "bow bugs," infest violin cases, feeding on the bow hair.



  • Adult — 6–10mm in length.
  • Uppermost is black, underside is white.
  • Larva — similar in appearance to larder beetle (comet shaped, brown and hairy) but with an orange stripe running down the length of the back.

Life Cycle

2–3 months at 18–25°C.


  • Scavenger feeding on various animal materials such as skin, feathers, animal hair and dried fish.
  • Pupates in solid material, e.g. wood.
  • Quantity of white on the underside may vary according to species.
  • Adults fly readily.