Carpet beetles – this is a pest you should start worrying about if you find it in your home. They are scavengers which not only feeds on your carpets, but also your linen, cotton and rayon clothes, furniture, hair, blankets, leather, food and dead insects. So if you know you have these guests at home, it’s time you did something about them.
It’s difficult differentiating between the damage inflicted by moths and carpet beetle larvae. However one major difference is that the beetles tend to eat large holes in one part of the fabric or carpet while moths make various holes throughout the fabric.
Signs of an infestation
You know your home is infested with carpet beetles if you find bugs’ shed skins and fecal spots and of course, holes in fabrics. However if you notice adult bugs in your home, it doesn’t imply that its larvae is in the same spot.
The adults don’t usually feed on items attacked by larvae. However if you find even one carpet beetle, you need to ensure you carry out a thorough search of your home to find its source of infestation.
You need to first locate the carpet beetle larvae, which can be difficult as they are drawn to inaccessible dark places and dead insects located in light fixtures and windowsills. Check under carpets, couches and large pieces of furniture, especially the lesser moved furniture. Also check folds of upholstered furniture, stored woolen clothing, basements and closets.
Check any food products which has been stored, and haven’t been touched or used for a long time. Even old animal and bird nests in the house and accumulated dead insects around windows attract carpet beetles.
These beetles enter your home through open doors and windows, unnoticed on clothing and other things and through cracks and crevices. Once they reach inside, they look for organic material to lay eggs.
While a female beetle may lay up to 100 eggs at a go, the eggs take about one or two weeks to hatch. It’s after nine months that the larvae enter the adult stage. The beetles are attracted to sunlight and feed on nectar and pollen once adult.
Types of carpet beetles
There are three main types of carpet bugs; black carpet beetles, varied carpet beetles and furniture carpet beetles.
- The black ones are most widespread and dangerous as they can cause damage to fabrics and property. As its name suggests, these beetles are black in color when adults. It is its larvae which is responsible for all the damage the beetles cause.
- Varied ones are smaller than their black counterparts, measuring 1/8 inch to 5 mm in length. It has a rounder body shape with patterns of white, yellow and brown scales on its wing covers.
Its eggs hatch in 17 to 18 days’ while the larvae molt 7-8 times in 7-11 months. The adults have three pairs of hair tufts which can be irritating to your skin or if breathed into your lungs or nose. Its larvae are scavengers which feed on various animal products and even in dry wood termite workings after fumigation kills termites.
- Furniture carpet beetles are found world-wide as its famous for feeding the hair padding, feathers and woolen upholstery of furniture. It not only attacks upholstered furniture, but also wool, hair, glue, book bindings, insects, dried cheese and blood and dried carcasses. The adult beetles are 1/16-1/8 inches long.
Do carpet bugs fly or bite?
If you have ever wondered if they fly, the answer is yes. They are attracted to color of flowers and plants and the scents and odors of your home. Regarding their biting, well, they rarely bite humans. They are interested mainly in your plants and flowers and in destructing things made of organic materials! Even the larvae do not bite humans. The carpet beetle bites you think these beetles inflict may be a cockroach bite, which you can treat using an antibacterial agent.
How to get rid of carpet beetles
As the larvae is found in dark and protected areas, you need some tools like a good flashlight and a knife or small spatula while looking for them. Its larvae and pupa are commonly found in nooks and crevices where normal household dust, debris and lint accumulate. So look in between carpets and baseboards and hidden crevices in sofas and upholstered furniture.
- Once you locate them, you need to vacuum not only your carpet, but also where you see or suspect infestations like your curtains and furniture.
- Pick up anything on the floor you think may be infested by beetles and wash with warm water to get rid of the beetles, larvae and eggs. In case of your carpet, use a steam cleaner to wash it.
- You can also store valuable infested items in cold storage temperatures of about 4 degrees centigrade or even freeze them for a week to kill all beetle larvae.
- Try spreading boric acid, which is easily available in pest control stores, on infested carpets and furniture to kill living beetle larvae and prevent a new infestation. Boric acid attaches to the beetle’s body and kills it when ingested. As its low in toxicity, it’s however safe to humans. However don’t let it lie on your carpet for longer than two hours as it can bleach it.
- Various carpet treatments in the market containing chlorpyrifos, allethrin and bendiocarbs also help at getting rid of carpet beetles. However make sure you choose a spray or dust meant for carpet bugs.
- Once you think you have eliminated the infestation, treat all cracks, crevices and seams in carpets, rugs and cushions with some dust which spray solutions may not properly reach. This ensures a complete eradication of carpet beetles, and prevents a future infestation.
As prevention is always better than cure, it’s better implementing these preventive measures to prevent a carpet beetle infestation in the first place!
- Regular laundering and vacuuming of linen, furniture and carpets help as it removes lint and hair which can increase the chances of a future infestation. Regular steam cleaning of carpets and furniture also prevent not only carpet bug infestations, but also other similar pests.
- There are prevention sprays you can use to prevent a carpet beetle infestation.
- Practice good housekeeping to prevent an infestation. Inspect all the storage areas and clothes and destroy infested garments.
- Applying insecticide to your carpet and along areas near your home helps. Treat all potential entry points like windows, pipes, vents and door frames to prevent its entry.
- It’s better to buy synthetic carpets, furniture and fabrics for your interiors as carpet beetles exclusively eat organic products.
- It’s also important you control other pests as even if you clean a carpet bug infestation, other pests like rodents can bring carpet beetles into your home. So set up live or snap traps to treat the problem. Don’t use poisons as you may not find the mouse it kills, but carpet beetles definitely will!
- As carpet beetles like animal nests like bird and rodent nests, locating and removing them before winter helps prevent an infestation. This helps as any beetles in the nests may force to scuttle indoors on the first sign of an infestation.
- As the adult bugs like feeding on pollen and nectar, it helps if you inspect all your outdoor flowers for black carpet beetles.
- Installing tight fitting screens around windows and doors also prevents adult bugs from entering your home.
These preventive measures should prove helpful at preventing potential carpet bug infestations. So remember to conduct a thorough search for the source of the infestation if you find even a single beetle or larvae on your carpet or furniture. Negligence on your part can lead to the beetles causing large scale damage to your clothes and furniture.
Remember that while it’s easier killing larvae and adult beetles, it’s a bit more difficult killing eggs and pupa. They are best eradicated through a complete vacuuming with a strong and efficient vacuum cleaner or carpet cleaner. Vacuuming also helps remove the debris like hair and lint which attract carpet beetles to your home in the first place!