Carpet beetles are small insects that can wreak havoc on your home by damaging your carpets, clothing, and other household items. They are common household pests that can be difficult to get rid of once they have established themselves in your home.
Not only can they cause damage to your belongings, but they can also cause allergies and skin irritation in some people. If you have noticed small holes or damage to your carpets, clothing, or other household items, it’s possible that you have a carpet beetle infestation.
In this article, we will discuss what carpet beetles are, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to get rid of them. We will provide practical tips and advice on how to prevent future infestations and protect your home and belongings from further damage.
Whether you are dealing with a current infestation or want to take preventative measures, this complete guide will provide you with the information you need to keep carpet beetles at bay.
What are Carpet Beetles?
Carpet beetles are common household pests. They cause greater damage to fabrics, carpets, rugs, and woolens than clothes moths. There are four species of carpet beetles that are common in the United States. They can do a lot of damage to things like fabrics, carpets, furs, stored food, and taxidermy specimens.
Adult beetles are most often seen on flowers in the spring. They enter homes by crawling or flying through vents, windows, doors, and eaves. Adult carpet beetles are drawn to light. They are frequently spotted near windows.
Adult females lay eggs on lint around baseboards, carpet edges, cracks, in hot-air furnace ducts, on dead mice, or in other similar places.
Lifecycle of a Carpet Beetle
Eggs are laid by the adults on potential food sources such as furs, woolen cloth, and carpets. Larvae emerge from eggs in about 2 weeks in standard indoor conditions at room temperature (77 to 78 F) and eat for several weeks to months, depending on the species and the surrounding environment.
As the larvae are ready to pupate, they will either continue to burrow deeper into the food or will stray off and burrow somewhere else. If they can’t find any other safe place, they may even pupate inside their last larval skin.
How to Identify Carpet Beetles
The most common type of carpet beetle is the black carpet beetle, or Attagenus unicolor (Brahm). It’s around 1/8 to 3/16 inch (3-5 mm) in length, black, and oval in shape.
The larva is carrot-shaped, ranges from light brown to black in color, and can grow to be 1/2 inch (13 mm) long. It is easy to tell this species apart because it has a tail with long hairs, and that is why it’s often referred to as ‘woolly bears.’
Similarities exist in the look and behavior of the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), the furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes LeConte), and the common carpet beetle (Anthrenus Scrophularia).
Adults range in length from around 1/12 to 1/8 inch (2-3 mm) and have a round body. The body is covered with scales of various colors, including white, brownish, black, orange, and yellow.
The mature larva measures approximately 1/5 inch (5 mm) in length, which is considerably shorter than that of the black carpet beetle. At the sides and end of its body, it has a lot of bristles and hair.
The larva of the varied carpet beetle can be distinguished from that of the black carpet beetle larva by its narrower head end compared to its wider tail end.
Damage Caused by Carpet Beetles
When they feed, carpet beetle larvae can destroy natural fibers, leaving holes in blankets and clothing. If the bristly hairs are clinging to clothing, they can also irritate human skin. Except for causing skin irritation, they pose no health risks to humans.
In most situations, they do not cause harm to the property itself, but rather to the interior, such as bedding, carpets, and furniture. If they are allowed to breed, the problem may worsen.
Carpet beetle larvae hide in the things they feed on. Infestations of carpet beetles differ from infestations of clothes moths in that the damage typically affects a large area or part of the garment or carpet, as opposed to being scattered throughout.
Shed skins are a sign of a carpet beetle larva. In contrast to clothes moths, they do not form webbing. Adult carpet beetles can be found living both outdoors and indoors. They can be found outside on the flowers of flowering plants that produce a lot of pollen, such as daisies, crape myrtles, wild asters, and spiraea.
Larvae often surround bird nests and eat debris made by other animals. Larvae consume a wide range of items when they are indoors.
Their typical food consists of pet food, nests made by birds, bees, and wasps, as well as carpets, woolens, furs, stuffed animals, leather book bindings, feathers, horns, hair, silk, and even dead insects.
Carpet beetles may also infest plant products including seeds, grain, and cereals.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles Effectively
Carpet beetles can be tricky pests to eliminate since they can live and hide in obscure places. And so, there are a few different steps that are recommended to effectively get rid of them:
Step 1: Inspect to Find the Source
Finding the source of the infestation is the first step in carpet beetle control.
It’s important to check everything, including dark storage areas, lint-covered nooks, heat ducts, cold-air return ducts, attics, basements, areas under slipcovers on furniture, the back sides of furniture, and infrequently used sofas in darkened corners.
In the spring, placing sticky traps around windows will capture adult carpet beetles that are attempting to enter or exit the home. To monitor the activities of carpet beetle larvae, food-baited sticky traps can be set around the perimeter and corners of floors.
Step 2: Prevent Carpet Beetles From Entering
Keeping doors and windows completely closed will help to reduce infestations by adult beetles.
Getting rid of flowering plants and shrubs right next to the building will make it harder for pests to get in. Inspect cut flowers for the presence of beetles before bringing them indoors.
The most significant factor in reducing damage from fabric pests is proper storage. Expensive furs and other materials derived from animals should be kept in cold storage or sealed garment bags.
Before storing the items, examine them thoroughly to ensure they are clean and pest-free. Woolens need better storage than just a chest or cabinet, especially when storing for long periods of time.
Fabric pest damage can be avoided by adding naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene (PDB) to storage space. These control products should not come into direct contact with the articles. PDB has the potential to ruin plexiglass, a wide variety of resins and finishes for furniture, as well as buttons and embellishments on garments.
Step 3: Clean and Sanitate Thoroughly
Dry cleaning and washing in hot water are effective methods for eliminating fabric pests.
Things that can’t be washed can be put in a plastic bag and stored in the freezer for two weeks. To prevent condensation damage, the objects should be allowed to return to room temperature within the sealed plastic bag after treatment.
Lint should be cleaned out of floor cracks and spaces around baseboards. All rugs and carpets should be washed and vacuumed on a regular basis. To keep carpet beetles from getting out of the bag, throw away the vacuum bag as soon as you’re done.
Remove bird, rodent, bee, and wasp nests, as well as old spider webs, from outside the house. It’s possible that carpet beetles are hiding in these nests.
Step 4: Consider Chemical Treatment
In areas that cannot be cleaned, insecticide dust or sprays may be necessary. Look for a product with a carpet beetle listed on the label.
While some pesticides can be harmful to humans, diatomaceous earth dust is less toxic. Active ingredients such as bifenthrin, beta-cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and permethrin can be used to get rid of carpet beetles.
Spot-treat or spray only the edges of floor coverings, cracks and crevices, under rugs and furniture, floors and walls of closets, and shelving where susceptible materials are stored. Fabrics should not be treated with pesticides.
Insecticide treatments in apartment buildings are less effective because crawling larvae are harder to reach.
Step 5: Fumigate Your House
Chemical fumigation may be the best option in cases of severe infestations or in situations where getting to all of the pests’ food sources is difficult. Typically, a pest control professional is required to do fumigation.
A fumigant treatment is the most effective approach to penetrate many layers of fabrics or rolled carpets and eliminate all fabric pests in contaminated materials. Fumigation can be done in a variety of different environments, including purpose-built fumigation chambers, trailers, shipping containers, and fumigation bubbles, or simply by covering the building in a tarp.
Contact your local pest control company for further information. Always remember, that sanitation and prevention can help carpet beetle infestations from reaching a point where fumigation is necessary.
So, follow all our steps to ensure that your house and property stay pest free!
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.