Structure, Appearance and Characteristics Adults:
■ Length 5-10mm.
■ Uniformly dark or black in colour.
■ White hairs on side and undersurface.
■ Apex of wings come to a fine point.
■ 3 segmented clubbed antennae.
■ Strong, active fliers.
■ Chewing mouthparts. Larvae (the young):
■ Can be large, approx. 10-15mm long.
■ Brown in colour.
■ Very hairy.
■ 3 pairs of legs.
■ Distinguishable line along dorsal surface.
■ Chewing mouthparts.
■ Larvae are active and agile in dark, but become immobile in light. Life Cycle Complete metamorphosis (egg – larva – pupa – adult). Eggs approx. 2mm in length, creamy in colour and are laid in foodstuffs such as hides, and in cracks. Mating will cease if no suitable places for eggs exist. Egg laying continues for 2-3 months with a total of 200-800 eggs being laid in a lifetime. Eggs hatch in 2-12 days. Larvae moult 5-11 times.
Larvae cease to feed approx. 4 days prior to pupation. Larval period can range of 35 (in summer) -238 days (during other seasons). Larvae prefer to burrow into material to pupate. Timber, woollen goods, cork, tea-chests and similar materials are sought after by the larvae in order to pupate. Pupation period approx. 7 days. Average life cycle 60-70 days under favourable conditions. Adult life span 60-90 days. Habitat Found in tanneries, hide and skin warehouses, homes, bird nests, museum collections, stuffed animals. Can be found infecting any product of animal base. Food Utilise and attack items containing keratin, which is a chief constituent of structures such as hair of humans and other animals, horns, hoofs and feathers. Keratin is a protein which is quite stable chemically and is very resistant to most means of digestion. Will attack furs, skins and hides, feathers, smoked meats, cheeses, bone.
Adults will feed on flowers and shrubs as well. Pest Status Can cause considerable damage to merchandise, clothing and other animal based goods. Most damage is caused by the larvae. Large numbers of larvae can weaken timber structures because of ‘burrowing’ holes for pupation. In some cases parts of the building structure have been condemned. Larvae are considered the most damaging stage however adults can also damage commodities. Control Population will only grow to a size suitable to the availability of food sources, pupation occurs in well protected areas. This pest has a narrower band of food sources than other insects, activity occurs in dark areas. Controls would include removal of infested food source. If commodity is a food item it should be disposed. Non food items can be chemically treated or ‘heat’ treated if appropriate. The area around the infestation must also be treated to remove adult infestation and re-infestation.
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