They may be tiny, but carpet beetles can cause major damage to household fabrics and textiles. These invasive insects go through a complex life cycle inside your home, with voracious larvae hatching from eggs and chewing elaborate holes through sweaters, blankets, and upholstery.
Sneaking in through the smallest cracks and crevices, a carpet beetle infestation often goes undetected until significant destruction is done. But with knowledge of the telltale signs of their presence and a diligent integrated pest management approach, you can gain the upper hand on these fabric-feasting pests.
It takes an understanding of how carpet beetles breed, what attracts them, and their weak points to protect your fabrics and eliminate an infestation.
What Are Carpet Beetles?
Carpet beetles are tiny oval-shaped insects that measure 1 to 4mm long as adults. Their bodies are covered in an intricate pattern of black, white, yellow, and sometimes orange scales. The larvae are a bit larger, around 2.5cm, and are brownish, black, or white with long hairs covering their bodies.
There are over 100 species of carpet beetle, with varied and black carpet beetles being the most common household pests. Despite their name, carpet beetles don’t only inhabit carpets. They can infest and damage many household items.
Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen and nectar from plants and flowers. The larvae eat natural fibers and materials including wool, cotton, silk, fur, feathers, leather, lint, dead insects, pet hair, and skin flakes. They can damage clothing, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets, and more.
What Attracts Carpet Beetles Into Your Home?
There are several ways carpet beetles can enter your house:
- Riding on cut flowers or houseplants brought indoors
- Flying in through open doors or windows
- Carried in on infested furniture or other household items
- Living in chimneys or wall voids and entering through cracks
- Coming from pests nests like birds or rodents
Female carpet beetles instinctively look for places with abundant food sources to lay their eggs. Ideal spots are areas where pet hair or human skin flakes accumulate like carpets, pet bedding, furniture, and clothing storage areas. They avoid bright light, so tend to stick to dark corners or hidden spaces.
Signs of a Carpet Beetle Infestation
Spotting adult carpet beetles near windows, baseboards, or light fixtures is one sign of an infestation. More often, the damage caused by larvae goes noticed first. Telltale signs include:
- Small holes in fabrics – carpets, clothing, blankets, upholstery
- Bare patches on rugs or carpets
- Shed skins from larvae molting
- Visible crawling larvae
- Accumulation of dead adult beetles near windows
Thoroughly inspecting your home is important to identify all infested items. Pay close attention to carpets, especially along edges and under furniture. Shake out stored clothing, linens, and other textiles. Look for larvae in pet areas and where dead insects accumulate like windowsills and light fixtures.
If you find larvae, shed skins, or damage, a thorough cleaning is essential to eliminate all stages of the beetles. Just removing adults won’t get rid of eggs and larvae that can continue to breed.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles:
Vacuum frequently – At least 2-3 times per week, vacuum carpets, floors, furniture, pet beds, and other spots beetles congregate. This removes eggs, larvae, and adults along with hair and skin flakes they eat.
Wash infested fabrics – Clothing, bedding, and other items with signs of beetles should be washed in hot water and dried on high heat to kill all life stages. Severely damaged wool or silk should be discarded.
Use steam – Steam cleaning carpets and upholstery kills larvae and eggs with high heat. Steam along baseboards, window sills, and crevices where larvae hide.
Clean thoroughly – Wipe down shelves, drawers, hangers and other surfaces to remove hair, dust, and debris that attracts beetles. Clean under and behind furniture.
Inspect plants and flowers – Gently shake off any beetles before bringing plants indoors. Wipe leaves periodically to prevent buildup of eggs or larvae.
Seal cracks and crevices – Use caulk to seal any openings around windows, doors, pipes, vents, etc. that beetles use to enter.
Use pheromone traps – Traps containing pheromones lure adult male beetles which reduces breeding. Follow trap instructions carefully.
Discard infested items – Heavily damaged woolens and other unsalvageable items should be sealed in a plastic bag and thrown away to prevent further breeding.
Call a professional – For serious infestations, a pest control professional can use targeted insecticide treatments and fumigation methods to eliminate carpet beetles.
With vigilance and consistent thorough cleaning, carpet beetles can be controlled and your fabrics protected. Stopping them early before populations grow is ideal. Implementing preventive measures like regular vacuuming, sealing entry points, and promptly removing food sources keeps them from becoming a problem in the first place.