What Are Carpet Beetles and How To Get Rid of Them

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Carpet Beetles may seem harmless and even cute at times, but these insects should not be taken lightly. Without proper inspection and elimination, these insects can cause serious damage. 

Unfortunately, finding them and getting rid of them is harder than it looks. 

Don’t worry. I’m here to help. In this post, I will go over everything you need to know about carpet beetles and how to get rid of them. 

Let’s dive in. 

What Are Carpet Beetles?

Carpet Beetles are a type of beetle that produces destructive larvae. The larvae eat organic animal material. 

There are between 200 and 400 different Carpet beetle species that produce destructive larvae that feed on decaying plant or animal matter.

In residential and commercial buildings, this can cause damage to the furniture, carpets, and other fabrics that are lying around.

What Do Carpet Beetles Look Like?

When identifying carpet beetles you need to watch out for both larva and adults. 

Adult Carpet beetles look like most other beetles.

They have an oval-shaped body and measure between 1 and 4 mm. There are several species of carpet beetle and they vary in color.

The most common species has a pattern with several different colors. The pattern almost looks like swatches of paint on the exoskeleton.

The colors are typically black, white, yellow, and in some cases orange. 

How Did I Get Carpet Beetles?

Getting carpet beetles is a lot easier than it sounds. Adult carpet beetles live outside and often make their way into your home by flying through open doors and open windows.

Carpet beetles can also enter your home through window sills, door sills, and other cracks and crevices on the outside of your home.

When carpet beetles are inside your home they lay eggs on the natural fabric around your homes. Common places include furniture, clothes, carpets, and other blankets.

If you don’t clean your home often then these subtle infestations can continue to grow uninterrupted.

How Serious Are Carpet Beetles?

Adult carpet beetles are harmless. They mainly feed on pollen from plants and don’t cause any damage.

Although adults are harmless if they are indoors, this is a sign of carpet beetle larva inside your home.

Carpet beetle larvae are a serious problem because they can cause serious, irreversible damage to the natural fabrics in your home. 

The larvae eat holes in natural animal fabrics such as wool, silk, feathers, and other decaying organic material such as dead insects.

These larvae also shed small bristles when they live in your house. These small hairs are known to cause serious allergic reactions in some people.

What Do Carpet Beetles Eat?

Adults and larvae carpet beetles eat two drastically different diets. Adults carpet beetles feed on pollen and plant nectar. 

Carpet beetle larvae feed on animal products and other decaying organic matter. Some common items that carpet beetle larvae eat are feathers, fur, wool, hair, cotton, and dead insects. 

These larvae will avoid synthetic materials because they can’t digest these materials. 

Larvae are known to eat a variety of different organic materials, including: 

  • Silk 
  • Wool 
  • Fur 
  • Felt 
  • Leather 
  • Human hair 
  • Animal hair
  • Feathers
  • Dead insects 
  • Blankets 
  • Crumbs 
  • Carpets 

If you suspect carpet beetles inside your home, inspect near potential food sources. Carpet beetle larvae tend to live and stay near their food source for efficient food consumption. 

Do Capet Beetles Spread Diseases?

Carpet beetles don’t spread or cause any diseases. This makes them relatively safe.

The two major threats that carpet beetles can cause is asthma or allergic reactions.

Carpet beetle larva shed small bristle hairs that can get caught on the fabrics they crawl on or suspended into the air.

When some people come into direct contact with the bristles, they can have allergic reactions. When these bristles and other particles are suspended in the air, they can also cause asthma attacks

Where do Carpet Beetles Live?

Adult carpet beetles must live outdoors. Unless you have plants with nectar and pollen inside your home, they won’t survive.

Carpet beetle larvae tend to live indoors. Often adult females will find dark, secluded areas where natural fabrics are present. Once the adult females find a suitable place, they will typically leave the site while the larva consumes the organic material until it’s ready to molt into an adult.

The carpet beetle larvae live near their food source. This makes it easy for them to eat and conserve energy.

Types of Carpet Beetles

There are three common types of carpet beetles that you will find in your home. There are hundreds of species of carpet beetles across the world. The two most common carpet beetles you will find in your home are the varied carpet beetle and the black carpet beetle. 

 

Varied Carpet Beetles 

The varied carpet beetle is one of the most common types of carpet beetles. Varied carpet beetles are between 1mm and 4mm. 

These carpet beetles have a signature pattern on the bodies. The wings have yellow scales that eventually wear off when they become an adult. 

 

Black Carpet Beetles 

Adult black carpet beetles are the same size as varied carpet beetles. These carpet beetles can range from dark brown to black. 

These beetles can be found in the kitchen rather than in bedrooms or near organic materials. They will also infest wool, animal fur, and fathers if it’s available. 

One of the biggest differences between the varied carpet beetle and black carpet beetle is their color and shape. 

Black carpet beetles have a circular, rectangular shape rather than the varied carpet beetles’ oval shape. 

How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

1. Inspect Your Home and Prepare for Treatment

The first step to treating the carpet beetles inside your home is to first fine the source of the infestation. Once you have located the infestation then you can begin preparing the area for treatment.

To find carpet beetles it’s best to use a flash light, a face mask, and a pair of gloves. The bristles that carpet beetle larva can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks so its important to protect against those when inspecting.

If you’re moving clothes, blankets, or furniture these small bristles and other particles can come in contact with your skin or get suspended in the air without you knowing it.

Where To Look For Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetle larva prefer to hide in dark and undisturbed areas around your home. Some common places that carpet beetles larvae tend to hid include basements, attics, closets, dressers, cabinets, shelves, garages, vents, ducts, carpets, and rugs.

These carpet beetles tend to hide near or on their source of food.

Inside homes this tends to be clothes, blankets, carpets, rugs, or other fabrics that are in dark and secluded areas of your home.

Some other miscellaneous areas where carpet beetles can be found include:

  • Inside musical instrument cases. Carpet beetles will feed off the felt or velvet lining the case.
  • Underneath lamps with felt or velvet pads
  • Underneath furniture or furniture legs with felt or velvet pads
  • Inside baits for rodents. They will also feed off the carcasses of dead rodents, so emptying these baits often is essential.
  • On taxidermied animals
  • In or on fresh flowers. This is a common way carpet beetles are unknowingly brought into the home.

When inspecting for carpet beetles its important that you not only inspect for live carpet beetles but also their damage.

Carpet beetle damage is sometimes hard to spot so it’s important that you use a flashlight to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Damage includes small holes, large holes, track marks of missing fabric, and fabric falling apart.

2. Wash All Your Fabrics

The easiest thing that you can do to remove carpet beetle larvae fro your clothes and other fabrics is to wash them.

As a precaution you can wash all the fabrics in your house, especially those that don’t get used often. To ensure that you eliminate any eggs or larvae in your clothes is to wash on high heat and dry on high heat as well.

Your clothes must reach 120 degrees F to eliminate carpet beetle larvae and eggs.

3. Vacuum and Steam

Steaming your clothes is a great way to eliminate carpet beetles from items that can’t be washed or from furniture.

Most steamers can easily reach temperatures higher than 120 degrees F. At this temperature larvae and thier eggs will die immediatly.

This will allow you to quickly kill carpet beetles without having to wash your belongings.

After you steam your blongings you can vacuum your furniture, carpets, and other items to clean up any dead insects and the debris they leave behind.

For the most effective treatments you can perform routine steaming and cleaning to kill and larva or eggs that you missed during the first treatment.

4. Use Insecticide Indoors and Outdoors

Indoors

To treat the inside of your home there are several different insecticides you can use.

Residual insecticide sprays are the most effective type of treatment against carpet beetles. It’s best to apply residual sprays to carpets and other fabrics that won’t directly touch your skin.

Residual insecticides give you extended protection even after application. The length of coverage will depend on the type of insecticide you are using.

You can also use insecticide dust such as Delta Dust or DE to kill carpet beetles that are hiding on your clothes or other crucial fabric that your skin will come in contact with.

You can apply a thin layer to the surface. Let the dust sit for several hours. After the dust has set you can use a vacuum to remove the dust from the fabric.

 

Outdoors

The root of carpet beetle infestations starts outside. If you can eliminate carpet beetles outside then you will prevent them from coming inside and infesting your home.

Residual insecticides are the most effective against carpet beetles. Outdoors you can apply residual insecticides more liberally.

Targeting potential entry points around your home such as windows, doors, or other crevices around your home will keep them outside of your home.

Carpet beetles tend to live around flowers and plants, where they eat. Use a plant safe insecticide is the best option here. This will allow you to kill any carpet beetles that are feeding on the plants around your home.

This will prevent them from laying inside your homes in the future.

5. Monitor

After you’ve treated inside and outside your home the next thing you need to do is monitor carpet beetle activity.

The easiest way to monitor carpet beetle activity indoors is to use sticky traps. Place sticky traps in the areas were you saw or suspected carpet beetle activity. You can place small pieces of fabric at the center of the sticky trap to attract carpet beetles onto the trap.

Monitoring carpet beetles outdoors is a bit more difficult. Since adult carpet beetles can fly sticky traps are not an effecitve way to monitor them.

One way to monitor carpet beetles activity is using a bug zapper with a light. Carpet beetles are attracted to light. You can use this to your advantage by placing one outdoors and monitoring how many end up in the trap after several days.

If there are still many carpet beetles inside then a more extensive outdoor treatment is necessary.

How To Prevent Carpet Beetles

Preventing carpet beetles is much easier than it sounds. There are several steps you can take to keep carpet beetles outside of your home.


Seal All Entry Points

The first thing you can do is to eliminate any entry points inside your home. The best way to do this is to weather-strip your home and seal up any cracks or crevices outside your home.

It’s also important that you avoid keeping your doors and windows open for extended periods. Make sure that your screens are on and aren’t damaged.

Keeping adults outside of your house will prevent infestations from starting up.

 

Apply Outdoor Insecticide

You can apply insecticide outdoors to prevent carpet beetles from wanting to approach your home. If they do come in contact with the flowers or your home they will be infected with the insecticide.

 

Clean Your Home

Clean your home regularly and remove any clutter. Without any clutter or debris around your home this will eliminate potential hiding spots for carpet beetles.

 

Seal all Unused linens and Clothes

If you have lots of unused clothes and linens in closets, basements, or other storage areas then make sure your clothes is stored properly.

The best way to store your used clothes is in air tight plastic bags or air tight storage containers.

This will prevent carpet beetles from accessing any clothes or potential food sources.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Carpet Beetles Bite?

No. Carpet beetles don’t bite humans. Carpet beetle larva will bite and eat any natural fabric that it comes in contact with. Adults don’t bite humans or fabric. Adults consume pollen and pose no biting threat.

Are Carpet Beetles Harmful to Humans?

Carpet beetles don’t cause direct harm to humans. But they will damage your belongings that are made of fabric. They can cause some harm to humans that have sensitive skin or asthma.

Carpet beetle larva shed small hairs that can cause allergic reactions. These small hairs can also cause asthma attacks when they are suspended in the air.

Can Carpet Beetles Live In Walls

Yes, carpet beetle larva will live inside wall voids. They also commonly live in attics and basements.

Any small areas or crevices around your home are perfect hiding spots for carpet beetle larvae. The larvae are more likely to occupy wall voids or crevices if there is a food source nearby.

For example, it’s common for beetle larvae to infest wall voids that come in contact with carpets or those in closets.

This allows them to leave the wall void and quickly start eating. Since they can’t travel far or quickly, this is an essential aspect of where they live.

Can Carpet Beetles Infest Cars?

Carpet beetles can infest cars. These bugs can infest any structure or vehicle with natural animal-based fabric inside.

As long as there is a food source for the larvae, adult females will lay their eggs, and the lava will survive since there is a consistent food source.

Getting carpet beetles inside your happens just like your home. Adult carpet beetles will enter through open windows, doors, or other entry points.

It’s also possible that someone with carpet beetles brings them into your home. For example, if there are carpet beetles on a blanket that you are transporting. If a carpet beetle falls off, it will begin making its new home inside your car.

Can Carpet Beetles Live In Your Hair?

Technically carpet beetles can live inside your hair. Since hair is a natural food source for carpet beetles, they can consume your hair to survive.

This is not a common occurrence. The carpet beetle larva will likely fall off or only stay there temporarily to eat and then return to their original hiding place. 

How Much Does Professional Carpet Beetle Treatment Cost?

Professional treatments for carpet beetles will range in price from $100 to $500. Typically, an average infestation will cost around $150 – $200. If infestations are large and span different areas of the home, then treatments can cost upwards of $500.

Professional pest control companies will offer recurring preventative treatment that will keep carpet beetles away.

Depending on the level of prevention, these treatments can cost between $50 and 200.

The price of preventative treatments depends more on the level of prevention and the size of your home or area being treated.

What are the Natural Predators of Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetles are small insects that are consumed by many other animals outdoors. There is not a specific insect or animal that preys only on carpet beetles.

Insects and other animals will eat carpet beetles when they come in contact with them.

This can make it hard to use natural predators to get rid of carpet beetle larva. Any insects or animals that can be used will often become a pest inside your home if they are released.

I Found One Carpet Beetle Larva, What should I Do Next?

If you found one carpet beetle larva in your home, then there is some cause for panic. Well, don’t panic, but you must inspect your home. When there is one carpet beetle, this means that there are many more hiding nearby.

Adult carpet beetles lay eggs in clusters of 40 eggs. This means that you can potentially have 40 beetles in your home.

It’s best to begin treating the root of the problem as quickly as possible.

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