Looking to kill and get rid of carpet beetles around your home?
Often confused with moths, especially when it comes to damaged clothing, linen and fabrics, carpet beetles are not that easy to spot.
And what you see is usually the damage, first, before any other signs. So, getting rid of carpet beetles will naturally prove successful only if you know a bit more about the pest.
This guide by PestStrategies.com will cover everything that you need to know about the tiny spotted rug bugs so that you’re prepared to act swiftly, kill them wash the remains away.
If trying to exterminate carpet beetles on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best trained professionals that are able to use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
What Are Carpet Beetles?
There are several common carpet beetles that don’t necessarily attack just carpets and rugs. As these pests feed predominantly on organic fabrics and materials, some carpet beetle species come with a name that is based on what they find most tasty to eat.
Types of carpet beetles:
Here are five types of widespread carpet beetles that cause problems for commercial goods, public facilities, and of course, domestic properties.
Varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci
They reach 3,5mm in size and can live up to 3 years, depending on various conditions. They are almost round in shape and are speckled in different-colored fine scales, forming patches of brown, yellow and white, hence, the name.
Fur (carpet) beetle, Attagenus pellio
This type can get to 6mm in size. Its color varies in the hues of red, brown and black. Each of their wings has a distinctive white patch.
Furniture carpet beetle, Anthrenus flavipes
It looks similar to the varied carpet beetle, in terms of size and color (black with a mottle of yellow and white), covered in yellow scales. The fur beetle has a much shorter life span of up to two months.
Leather beetle, Dermestes maculatus
Relatively large in comparison to other species (6 to 10mm), this is a carrion type of beetle, which lives only for a few months.
A curious creepy fact is that it’s used for animal and human skeleton preparation by universities, as this beetle can eat away flesh within a few days.
Black carpet beetle, Attagenus unicolor
These beetles are no bigger than 5mm and are black in color. They have hard shells, a relatively short life cycle, with adults, which rarely eat, living only for a few weeks.
What Do Carpet Beetles Eat And Live?
Let’s clarify one thing, first. When talking about carpet beetles’ diet and the damage on our possessions that the pests cause, as a result, adult beetles are only facilitators in the latter. As they feed exclusively on pollen and plant nectar only, it’s their offspring, the larvae, which can be considered true vermin.
The youngsters are the culprits behind ruined furnishings, floor coverings, museum artifacts and even natural history museum exhibits, as they eat fabrics, carpets, fur, textiles, leather and animal matter (feathers, pet hair or dead flesh).
So, naturally, adult beetles will “reside” outdoors, where they can find food sources and mate. Their babies are hatched often indoors, however, after the female has laid the eggs in a cozy crevice or another hidden place in the interior of a building. As a result, the larvae will attack anything organic that is made from wool, silk, cotton, leather, fur and so on.
Some species feed on carrion, dead insects and animal sheddings, be it skin flakes, hairs or feathers. Occasionally, young carpet beetles will munch on grains, pet food, cereal, and certain spices.
What Are The Signs of a Carpet Beetle Infestation?
Carpet beetles leave pretty obvious signs of their presence. So, read on and find out what the experts at Fantastic Cleaners (UK) advise to look out for:
#1 Damaged items.
As we’ve pointed out, the larvae of carpet beetles can severely damage your possessions. So, if you notice any ruined carpeting and rugs, clothing, upholstered furnishing, leather and any other fur items, linen, etc., there is a good chance that this is the works of baby carpet beetles and not moths.
Moths, compared to carpet beetles, tend to leave numerous small holes, scattered across a textile surface. In contrast, carpet beetle larvae will eat their way through the fabric in a manner of leaving larger holes.
In addition, you may notice that your books, paintings, and photos have been damaged, as well.
Also, both the adults and their larvae of certain carpet beetles are quite happy to nibble on grains, sweet spices, pet food, and even potpourri. And if you’re into taxidermy and have some real stuffed animals on display around the house, then, they would be most definitely damaged, too.
Here’s an example video showing you what a full infestation can look like.
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#2 Moult sheddings.
Around the affected area, you may spot tiny piles of bristle skins that have been shed by the growing larvae. Most insects molt during the different stages of their development and carpet beetles are no exception. The bristles are nature’s way of protecting the youngsters from predators, like ants and house spiders, by making the larvae hard to swallow and digest.
These, again, could be found near the area of damage and carpet beetle activity. Although small in size, the feces can be distinguished if you look closely. Their color is usually similar to the coloring of the material that has become a food source for the pests’ offspring.
#4 Carpet beetles’ eggs.
These are oval in shape and in a cream or off-white hue. The eggs are so tiny (¼ to ½ mm) that it’s unlikely for the naked human eye to spot them.
But where do carpet beetles lay eggs?
Rug bugs will lay their eggs in hidden places, like baseboards, within the very fabrics of your furnishing, on drapery, curtains, in cracks and on top dusty surfaces. They can even choose another pest’s nest to hide their eggs and give the young ones an immediate meal, once eggs hatch.
So, again, it would be hard for you to actually discover those unless you do a thorough search with a magnifying glass.
#5 Alive carpet beetles.
You may sight the hungry larvae right in action, feasting away on your fur rug or wool carpet. Or you can spot live or dead adult carpet beetles on a window sill. As the winged creatures usually feed outdoors, they will try to get out to find some pollen after completing the task of reproducing indoors.
Tips to Get Rid and Kill Carpet Beetles and Larvae:
How to get rid of carpet beetles will be a natural concern of yours if you’ve been unlucky to find the signs of an infestation. There are several steps to apply, in order to successfully remove the insect pests for good.
Depending on where the main damage has been done, you may need to resort to some extra extermination techniques, along with the general removal methods. So, here’s what it’ll take to kill carpet beetles and get rid of the leftovers permanently and for good:
- Get your handy vacuum cleaner – Vacuum well carpets, rugs, mattresses, sofas, couches, storage, various surfaces, and your soft furnishings, as well.
- Dispose of badly damaged items – These could be clothes, linen, blankets or other items that you can part with.
- Wash clothing at a hot temperature setting – Give infested clothing and other fabrics a good wash, unless they have been completely ruined.
- Dry clean delicate textiles – Items that can’t be washed should be dry cleaned and disinfected by a professional.
- Steam clean or do hot water extraction cleaning – Use a home steam cleaner or hire a specialist to utilized the pressurized hot water extraction technique.
- Throw away infested food – This goes without saying. You wouldn’t like to have contaminated pasta for dinner, right?
- Discard anything that has been affected but can’t be treated – From natural-hairs brushes to your luxurious fur collar, don’t take the risk of leaving those hanging around.
- Use a suitable insecticide – You may be able to control a medium-grade infestation yourself with a store-bought pesticide.
- Apply Boric acid powder on affected areas – Sprinkle the product over the affected surfaces and vacuum thoroughly after a little while.
Read Also: What is boric acid?
DIY Removal Methods & Pro Carpet Beetle Control
We are not necessarily trying to compare the two carpet beetle removal techniques, as both have their place in the case of an infestation. Or in other words, it won’t hurt if you vacuum thoroughly all surfaces around your home, remove or wash all infested items and so on, before getting a professional pest controller to do the rest and treat your home with an insecticidal product.
What we want to point out, here, is that dealing with severe infestations, which have spread across different areas in your property, by yourself is simply unwise. Boric acid or general-purpose insecticides from your local store are just not as effective as professional pesticidal treatment solutions.
What’s The Best Way to Prevent Carpet Beetles from Infesting Your Home?
To prevent a carpet beetle infestation it is applying vigilance as the first line of defense against a potential problem. You should also:
- Vacuum regularly and steam clean occasionally furnishings and carpets to remove anything that can be regarded as carpet beetle food.
- Check for signs around and under bulky furniture, where adult beetles may choose to lay their eggs.
- Store away all susceptible items in secure storage units, be it your fur items, blankets, sheets or food supplies.
- Always check new and existing indoor plants for signs (adult carpet beetles will not miss getting a hitch on or landing a plant, especially if it’s in blossom.
- Carpet beetles will fly in through doors and windows, so make sure you keep them closed during the insects’ breeding period (warm weather months) or at best – install insect screens.
- Ensure that you address rodent and bird problems around your property, as carpet beetles favor these critters’ nests to lay their eggs.
- If you’ve suffered from a beetle problem in the past, consider replacing natural fabrics with synthetic ones.
- Use Boric acid or an insecticidal spray as a preventative measure, especially if you had to deal with carpet beetles not long ago.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with Carpet Beetles
As you can see, carpet beetles are far from just an inconvenient nuisance. The damage they cause can be devastating and costly, especially if you own expensive or antique natural-fiber items. Not to mention, that they can destroy art collections and entire museum displays of rare animal exhibits.
And although the vermin don’t transmit dangerous diseases, the molting insects can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people.
So, it’s always best that you don’t ignore the problem or half-deal with it in the hope that it will go away by itself. Use common sense as a key prevention and proofing measure, and apply comprehensive management and extermination methods, as soon as you spot a sign of an infestation.