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Carpet Beetles: The Secret Menace In Your Home

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Carpet beetles are a common household pest that can cause a lot of damage to your carpets. They are small, black, beetle-like insects beetles that eat the carpet’s fabric, lay eggs in it, and damage it over time. If you think you have a proper infestation of carpet beetles, there are some things you can do to control it.

However, right at the outset, I’d like to inform you that getting rid of carpet beetles can be an ordeal. But, it certainly is possible. In this article, I will explain to you everything you need to know about carpet beetles and what you can do (backed by personal anecdotal evidence) to prevent them from returning to your home!

What are carpet beetles exactly?

Carpet beetles are a particular type of beetle that lays eggs in fibrous materials, such as carpets. The eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on the fibers in the carpet.

Carpet beetles

Given that these pests enjoy feasting on various fibers present in your house, these carpet beetles can cause a great deal of damage to carpets, clothing, furniture, and other materials in your home.

There are essentially three types of carpet beetles that you may come across in your life: the black carpet beetle, the furniture carpet beetle, and the varied carpet beetle. These insects get their names from their preferred habitats- carpets, furniture, and other fabrics.

Carpet beetles can be different colors based on their species and maturity; however, they all have one thing in common: they love to feast on natural fibers like wool, silk, and cotton.

What Do Carpet Beetles Look Like?

Different species of carpet beetles look different.

Carpet beetles vary in terms of their appearance based on which exact species they belong to. However, I have included three of the most commonly found species of carpet beetles types and what they look like below.

Black carpet beetles

The black carpet beetle is the most common type of carpet beetle in the USA. They are dark brown or black, bullet-shaped beetles with brown legs and antennae. They measure about 1/2 an inch long and can be found all over North America.

While one of the most popular beetles in the United States, the black carpet beetle is also a common type of beetle that can be found all over the world. They are attracted to both fabric and stored products, such as grains, and will feed on them if they are available.

This can often lead to an infestation of these beetles. If you think you have a black carpet beetle infestation, it is important to take action quickly to get rid of them.

Varied carpet beetles

The varied carpet beetle is a small, brown beetle that can be found all over the world. They are most commonly known for their damaging effects on carpets and textiles, but they can also pose a threat to stored food products.

Adult beetles are 2-3 mm long and have white, brown, and yellow spots on their elytra, also called wing covers and back. They can lay up to 50 eggs at a time, and the eggs hatch into larvae that feed on a variety of materials, including hair, wool, silk, feathers, skin, and leather.

Interestingly, the larvae of this species of beetle are generally larger than the adult individual. The larvae can grow roughly 5 mm in length compared to the adult’s maximum size of 3 mm!

Common carpet beetle aka. buffalo carpet beetle

The Common Carpet Beetle is a small beetle that feeds on animal byproducts, such as hair, wool, skin, and feathers. They are often found in homes where they can feed on carpets, rugs, furniture, and other textiles.

Adult buffalo carpet beetles are 2.5 to 3.8mm long and have black and white patterned scales on their elytra and thoraxes. The larvae are reddish-brown, 2.5 to 5 mm long, and covered in fine bristled hairs.

How can you identify carpet beetles in your home?

As I have mentioned earlier, carpet beetles are a common household pest. Therefore, it is vital that you understand how to identify a carpet beetle pest. One of the simplest ways is to identify them based on their chewing orifice and antennae that appear to be clubbed.

In general, carpet beetles are oval-shaped and dark brown to black in color. They have unique colored scales that are specific to the type of beetle. In addition, there are different species of carpet beetle, and each one has a unique larval shape.

Some larvae are elongated with short hairs, while others have dense tufts of hair. It is important to identify the species of beetle so that you can use the correct pest control methods.

You can also directly refer to the description of the three most common species of carpet beetles I have provided above this section!

Where do carpet beetles enter your home from?

Windows with flower-bearing plants attract carpet beetles.

Carpet beetles come from a variety of different places. Adult beetles fly or crawl into homes from flower to flower, looking for nectar. They can also be brought in on pet fur, clothing, and other items.

Once they’re in your home, they will lay eggs, and the larvae will feed on a variety of materials, including carpet, furniture, and clothes.

Interestingly, beetle larvae feed on areas where predators are less likely to see them—such as undersides or beneath folds. This characteristic often leaves homeowners wondering how the pests got into their homes in the first place.

Therefore, it is useful to remember that carpet beetle infestations often start in the spring and summertime when the weather is warm, and they are looking for a place to lay their eggs. They will often invade dark, out-of-the-way places like closets, basements, and attics.

Once they find a suitable place to invade, they will gradually set up a colony and move to other parts of your house for sustenance!

What is the carpet beetle’s habitat of choice?

Most types of carpet beetles prefer dark, secluded habitats where they can find food and shelter. This can include areas such as closets, attics, and basements.

They are also attracted to pet hair and dander, so keeping your home clean and free of these items can help reduce the risk of an infestation.

Adult carpet beetles that belong to the varied carpet beetle species, on the other hand, love to live in sunny areas and are often found near gardens or other locations with many plants.

What is a carpet beetles life cycle?

Larval stage of a carpet beetle's life cycle

Carpet beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, meaning that they have four distinct stages in their life cycle. The carpet beetle life cycle includes an egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

  1. The adult female lays the eggs and is very small and white.
  2. The larvae are the active stage of the beetle and can be very destructive as they eat away at fabrics and other materials.
  3. The pupa is a transitional stage where the larva transforms into an adult beetle.
  4. Adults are the final stage of the life cycle, and they reproduce to start the process over again.

Female carpet beetles lay eggs directly on or near larval food sources. The eggs are tiny and white, and the larvae that hatch from them are small and reddish-brown.

These carpet beetle larvae feed on a variety of materials, including carpets, furs, wool, spider webs, animal carcasses, leather, and other protein-containing materials.

The eggs hatch within an average of two weeks, and the duration of the larval stage also depends on the type of carpet beetle species and temperature.

Once hatched, the larvae will feed on a variety of materials, including carpets, furniture, clothes, and other fabrics. They will eventually pupate and turn into adult beetles.

The larvae will eventually pupate into adults and will then mate and lay eggs. It takes between two and three months for common carpet beetle larvae to reach pupation, while varied carpet beetle larvae may need up to two years to develop into adults.

Once these beetles grow into adults, their typical life span is usually around 60 days.

What are the habits of the carpet beetle, and what food does it depend on for survival?

All species of carpet beetles display a few characteristic tendencies for certain habits and preferences for certain types of food.

For example, adults of the carpet beetle species can be found living both outside and inside homes. When they live inside, they feed on various materials, including carpets, furniture, clothes, books, and other paper products.

But, they can also be found outdoors on the flowers of many plants. They are commonly seen on the blossoms of crape myrtle, spiraea, Queen Anne’s lace, buckwheat, daisies, wild asters, and other flowering plants with abundant pollen.

Interestingly, adult carpet beetles are attracted to light and are often found around windows. The females will lay eggs on lint around baseboards, carpet edges, cracks in ducts of hot-air furnace systems, mouse carcasses, or other such areas.

One to two weeks after laying 40 to 90 eggs, an adult carpet beetle lays small larvae that hatch into full-sized adults. Before becoming a pupa, a larva goes through 8-17 molts.

In certain species, the larval stage can last for as little as 70 days, while in others, it can last for more than a year. Adults emerge from pupae in about two weeks after the larvae have matured into pupae. However, they often only live for a few weeks at a stretch.

What are the common signs of a carpet beetle infestation in your house?

Catching a carpet beetle infestation is the key to ensuring that it does not get out of hand quickly. Therefore, knowing the two most important signs of an infestation can be crucial in saving your fabrics from these notorious pests!

Extensive damage to fabrics in your house

The larvae of carpet beetles can cause a lot of damage to fabrics and other items in your home.

If you see any damage on commonly infested items, like carpets, furniture, clothing, or bedding, it’s likely that you have a carpet beetle infestation. In fact, even adult carpet beetles can inflict the same kind of damage that their larvae do!

Presence of tiny carpet beetles and their exoskeletons

If you see tiny beetles crawling up the walls or dying on your windowsills, it could be a sign of a carpet beetle infestation. Beetle larvae will also shed their skin where they’re eating, so if you see molted skin around your home, that’s another indication of an infestation.

How can you prevent carpet beetles from infesting your house?

Wash your fabrics

The formula to keeping carpet beetles, like most other pests, out of your house entirely demands a multi-pronged approach. Here are some tips that you can follow to prevent carpet beetles from infesting your house entirely!

Keep your house clean.

Keep your house clean by using a vacuum cleaner or some other method. Dust and the presence of a dirty environment are essentially open invitations to carpet beetles to settle in your home!

Donate or throw away clothes that you don’t use.

Any items of clothing that you’ve been hoarding for a while can be a potential attraction for carpet beetles, especially if you aren’t using or wearing them.

Therefore, another tip that you can follow is to conduct a half-yearly cleaning of your closet and storeroom just to ensure that you get rid of such potential attractions for these pests routinely!

Make sure your fabrics are washed and fresh.

Since fabrics are the main sources of food for these pests, you should also ensure that you thoroughly wash all your fabrics on a regular basis. This will ensure that any hidden carpet beetles or beetle larvae get washed away while also keeping your fabrics clean and fresh!

Do Carpet Beetles Bite?

The fact is that carpet beetles do not bite humans. These pests are only attracted to fibrous fabrics that will give them their food. Although carpet beetles are not harmful to humans, they can do a lot of damage to fabrics and furniture.

The larvae and eggs of the carpet beetle can be very destructive, so it is important to take steps to control a carpet beetle infestation before it becomes too severe.

Having said that, carpet beetles are often lined with thin cilia on their body. If your skin touches these cilia, it can develop a rash or severe itchiness. Therefore, take care to keep these bugs away from your skin entirely.

Conclusion

In short, carpet beetles are a species of beetles that are hell-bent upon eating through every fabric you have at home, especially the more expensive fabrics typically made of naturally high-fibrous materials like cotton, wool, and so on.

Therefore, even though you don’t have to worry about falling sick because of carpet beetles, you will want to do everything you need to to keep these pests away from the high thread-count bedsheets that you just bought with your last paycheck!

FAQs

What other types of carpet bugs can you find at home?

Apart from carpet beetles, some other carpet bugs that you can typically find at home are bed bugs, roaches, and larvae of other insects that are in the process of infesting your house. While natural population control methods may not always be effective in keeping your house bug-free, ensuring regular checks and chemical treatments every once in a while can go a long way!

What is the size of carpet beetles?

The average size of a carpet beetle is roughly 5 millimeters. However, there are some species of these beetles that don’t even grow longer than 3 millimeters. Further, the larvae of this pest are typically much larger than the adult beetle itself!

Which species of beetle is tiny in size and black and white in color?

Typically, the tiny beetle that is also black and white in color is a varied carpet beetle. However, varied carpet beetles can also have brown or yellow patches of color on their exoskeleton apart from the black.

what are carpet beetles attracted to?

Carpet beetles are attracted to a variety of materials including wool, silk, hair, fur, and feathers. They are also attracted to lint, paper, and fabric that has been stained with food or perspiration. In homes, they are often found in carpeting, upholstered furniture, and clothing.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.