What do carpet beetles look and sound like? If you have an infestation on your hands but don’t know exactly what carpet beetles are, join the club.
One of the most overlooked household pests is carpet beetles.
As far as bugs you may find in your house go, carpet beetles don’t get the press of their distant cousins, such as bed bugs and cockroaches. Carpet beetles, compared to roaches and bed bugs in the insect world are more like Tilda Swinton’s character actor.
Although they tend to avoid the media, they do work, and their jobs aren’t covered in any major news. After all, they’re not red Carpet beetles
Let’s not get into the celebrities.
Though they may not appear to be a media favorite, carpet beetles can be found throughout the United States and the world. So if you have been finding some unexpected bugs in your home, chances are good it’s carpet beetles you’re dealing with.
Here’s what you need to know to defeat them.
What are Carpet Beetles and how can they help you?
As is often the case with insects, the term’ carpet beetle’ can be misleading, describing several different species with similar appearances and habits. Carpet beetles, which are part of the dermestid family of insects that includes around 700 species, is a type.
Many dermestid species are scavengers. They eat dead animals or animal products.
In fact, if you’ve ever watched one of those cop shows that feature a lot of autopsies, you may have come across species of dermestid beetles in the media, because they are very important in forensic entomology or the art of solving crimes by looking at bugs.
Even bones can be cleaned by dermestids, which are industrious and will remove all the flesh they find if it is given enough time.
Carpet beetles is a common species of dermestid honey beetle and can cause serious damage to homes. Their habit of eating carpet wool, attacking and damaging carpets and other rugs is what gives them their name.
But carpet beetles eat more than carpets, as we’ll find out in a moment. So don’t be too smug about your fancy hardwood floors.
How do Carpet Beetles look?
Carpet beetles all share the same body type and sizes. They all have hard wing cases that appear almost like a shell on the bug’s back and are split down the middle. Their heads have a short antenna and they are equipped with six legs, just like true bugs.
The standard carpet beetle size can be anywhere from 1/32″ to ½” long (1-12mm), and they tend to have an oval or almost circular body shape.
When seen from above, (and let’s face it, that’s almost always how humans see bugs) their heads are more or less invisible, since they keep them tucked under their bodies.
There is plenty of room to make changes within this basic plan. In fact, there is plenty of room for variation. There are many carpet beetles to choose from, each with a different shape, size, and color.
Let’s explore the most common carpet beetles.
There are many types of Carpet Beetles
The species of carpet beetle you’re most likely to find in your home are the black carpet beetle, the common carpet beetle, the furniture carpet beetle, the larger cabinet beetle, and the varied carpet beetle.
Though they share a similar body type, these beetles vary in appearance, so it’s important to figure out which is which.
Black Carpet Beetle
Black Carpet Beetle, the most widespread of all the carpet beetle types, can be found in the United States as well as across North America.
The adult is about an eighth to quarter inch in length and bright green with yellow spots.
Just kidding. Black Carpet Beetles look black, or at the very least, dark brown.
Common Carpet Beetle
Because it caused a lot of problems in Buffalo, New York during 1870s, the Common Carpet Beetle was sometimes called the Buffalo carpet beetle.
The Common Carpet Beetle is approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inches long and has a black body with red scales. This makes it much more impressive than its plain-black cousin.
Furniture Carpet Beetle
Even more impressive is the Furniture Carpet Beetle. These beetles display colorful spots made of yellow, white and black scales.
They are the same size and shape as Common Carpet Beetles. Their name comes from their love of eating on upholstery. These beetles can be found in the United States. However, they cannot live outdoors in harsh northern climates.
Larger Cabinet Carpet Beetle
The Larger Cabinet Beetle is found worldwide, and at 1/16 of an inch to 3/16 of an inch long, isn’t all that large.
This bug has dark bodies with dark red and black wing covers. They are commonly found in kitchen cabinets.
Varied Carpet Beetle
Another member is the Varied Carpet Beetle. While it’s not exactly certain where this bug got its name from, it’s generally thought it’s because of the color variation it shows.
Around 1/16 of an inch to 1/8″ an inch long, the Varied Carpet Beetle has black, yellow, and white scales that look almost like stripes.
Whichever type of carpet beetles you have – and if you’re really unlucky, it’s perfectly possible to have more than one type in the same building – they all behave very much the same.
Do Carpet Beetles Fly?
Carpet beetles are not afraid of using their wings underneath those colorful and intricate wing covers.
The carpet beetles have the ability to fly. Although they prefer crawling, it is flying that often brings them into homes.
Which means that unlike bed bugs and other pests, carpet beetles don’t need to be brought into the house in an infested piece of furniture or clothing. The beetles can easily fly through an open window to spread their infestation.
Carpet beetle infestations can prove difficult. This is not because carpet beetle damage often occurs in untroubled areas. Because carpet beetles are able to look and act differently depending upon their life stage.
We can better comprehend this by looking at the entire lifecycle of the carpet beetle.
How long does the carpet beetle live?
We get it. Learning about the life cycle of carpet beetles is nobody’s idea of a good time. And yet, it is crucial to know if you’re dealing with an infestation.
Here’s why: All carpet beetles go through a full metamorphosis. This means that the babies don’t look anything like the adults.
Even more importantly, carpet beetle babies don’t behave anything like the adults.
So to be able to identify carpet beetles in all life stages and then get rid of them, you’ll have to know a little bit more about each of the stages, which are:
What is the life cycle of the carpet beetle? Let’s start at the beginning.
Carpet Beetle Eggs
If two carpet beetles are very in love with each other, they will mate. This is when the trouble begins. A single, pregnant female can mate with up to 90 eggs.
These are some of the top FAQs regarding carpet beetle eggs.
Are there carpet beetle eggs visible?
Imagine how tiny a carpet beetle egg might be when you think about how tiny it is. The eggs of carpet beetles are tiny and measure only a quarter inch in length.
This makes them large enough to be seen with your naked eyes, but they are also extremely difficult to spot.
What does a carpet beetle egg look like?
The eggs of the carpet beetle are oval-shaped and white to cream. You may require a microscope because of the small size. However, if you take a close look, there is a protrusion that looks like a spine at one end.
Carpet beetle eggs are small and blend in with the environment. This is why many people don’t know that they exist until it becomes a problem.
What are the best places for carpet beetles to lay eggs?
While carpet beetles might not show their children how to bike, or help them save money for college, they love their parents and lay their eggs in areas that are close to food sources. This includes furs and woolen fabrics as well as other natural materials.
Newly hatched carpet beetle larvae also avoid the light so eggs will be laid in dark, hidden places where they won’t be disturbed, like the underside of a couch or other upholstered furniture, closets, behind baseboards, air ducts and even lint buildups.
How long does carpet beetle eggs take to hatch?
It takes carpet beetle eggs 5 to 16 days for them to hatch in typical indoor conditions. Then, they emerge as limbless larvae.
How do you kill the carpet beetle eggs
Killing carpet beetle eggs is a great idea because you’ll get them before they’ve had a chance to cause any real damage. So how do you do it?
- Vacuum. A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove and trap carpet beetle eggs. Use the nozzle to reach into crevices and cracks.
- Laundry. Carpet beetle eggs will die at temperatures over 120°F so run the wash and dryer at the hottest settings. For items that can’t be washed and dried, dry cleaning will do the trick.
- Freezer. You can use extreme cold to kill carpet bed bugs eggs at the opposite end of temperature. Place the infested items in plastic bags and leave in a freezer that’s colder than -20°F (-30°C) for three days.
- Bleach. Carpet beetle eggs can be killed by mixing bleach with water at a ratio of 1 to 3. Spray the solution in infested areas.
All of the above methods are great for killing carpet beetle eggs, but we prefer a steamer. It’s the perfect tool since you can’t exactly freeze a sheepskin rug or spray bleach on your suede jacket.
You may also not be able to vacuum a rug with a thick pile.
However, steamers can release extremely hot steam and kill carpet beetle eggs when they come in contact with them. And these don’t have to be expensive. For example, the McCulloch Steam Cleaner heats water to over 200 degrees °F, which is more than enough to kill carpet beetle eggs. It will also cost less than professional steam cleaning.
Carpet Beetle Larvae
All carpet beetle species share a characteristic called the larvae. The larvae are the first stage that causes the greatest damage to fabric and furniture, and help carpet beetles distinguish themselves from other species like bed bugs or fleas.
Below are the main FAQs concerning carpet beetle larvae.
How do the carpet beetle larvae appear?
Larvae of the carpet beetle are very different from adult or larval carpet beetles. These larvae look more like caterpillars.
Measuring in at around 4 to 5 millimeters in length, they’re much easier to spot. They’ll generally be oval-shaped (think: carrot shape) and brown-ish in color with stripes along their backs.
Carpet beetle larvae have tiny bristles as their most distinctive feature. And these little hairs can cause big trouble…
Are there carpet beetle larvae in my home?
Carpet beetles bite, which is one of the most common misconceptions about them. Carpet beetles don’t bite.
Why are your carpet beetle larvae gnats covering you?
The little hairs covering the bodies of carpet beetle larvae are shed. It can trigger an allergic reaction similar to insect bites if you are in contact with the bristly hairs.
This is known as carpet beetle skin irritation and it is one sign of infestation.
What are carpet beetle larvae eating?
Larvae of carpet beetle are able to hide from the light and will eat any animal-derived product they find. This includes a wool rug, leather couches, dead insects, and everything else.
That’s because in order to grow, these bugs have to find a source of keratin somewhere. The larvae will only molt if they are provided with a constant source of food. This means that the skin is shed approximately 5-10 times to allow them to grow.
So when it comes to damaging your clothes and furniture, it’s the carpet beetle larvae you need to worry about. Most of their damage comes from chewing holes into fabrics. Then they pupate to become adults and mate with more insects.
I found one carpet beetle larvae…are there more?
You’ve found one carpet beetle larvae and are desperately hoping that it’s a lone traveler who unwittingly ended up in your home. We’re sorry to break it to you but the chances are that it is one of many.
Larvae of the carpet beetle are not able to sneak in from outside. And it’s not likely that they’ve hitchhiked on your clothes or belongings like bed bugs or fleas can. If you’ve found one carpet beetle larvae, it’s most likely that it hatched from one of many, many carpet beetle eggs that were laid in your home.
How can I locate a carpet beetle nest larvae?
Although a carpet beetle nest is a disconcerting sight, it can help you quickly identify an infestation and eradicate the entire population.
Where do you start?
Larvae of the carpet beetle prefer to live in darkened areas where there is plenty of food. These are the best areas to inspect:
- It is less common to disturb natural materials like blankets or wool clothing if they aren’t used often and kept away.
- Expensive clothing like wool coats, cashmere sweaters, and furs that haven’t been worn for awhile
- Carpets made of wool or sheepskin, particularly the carpet’s undersides.
- Lint, hair and dust can accumulate in areas where there is a lot of household waste.
- Furniture that’s very rarely moved or disturbed
It won’t be a pleasant sight, but it must be done. A carpet beetle larva can live from 66 days to 330, depending on the conditions. It may take up to two years for it to become a pupate. That’s a lot of time for them to munch through your valuable fabrics so you want to stop them as soon as you can.
What can you do to eliminate carpet beetle larvae
The carpet beetle larvae stage is the most destructive in a carpet beetle’s life cycle. It is important to eliminate them as soon possible.
Here’s how to kill carpet beetle larvae:
- Vacuum. A vacuum cleaner is a great way to remove the carpet beetle larvae. The vacuum also captures potential food sources such as hair or lint for the carpet beetle larvae. Make sure you dispose of the vacuum bag immediately after you’re done.
- Sunlight. You can leave infested objects out in the sun if the weather allows. Carpet beetle larvae will die at a temperature of 105°F for four hours. The larvae are also averse to light, so they may have to be forced out of the item by the sun.
- Laundry. Carpet beetle larvae can quickly be killed by a hot washer and dryer.
- Freezer. Extreme cold kills carpet beetle larvae but make sure you place your items in a plastic bag so it doesn’t get freezer burn. Leave items in a freezer that’s colder than -20°F (-30°C) for at least three days.
- Steam cleaner. It’s natural, chemical-free and will produce steam so hot that it will kill carpet beetle larvae anywhere they are hiding – cracks and crevices, on the carpet, your entire closet, etc.
- Diatomaceous Earth. This fine powder is one of the best natural pest controls. It dehydrates and kills larvae of carpet beetles. Spread it on your carpets, and underneath upholstered furniture.
- Boric Acid. Carpet beetle larvae can also be treated with another natural pesticide. Sprinkle it on infested places.
- Carpet Beetle Pesticide. NyGuard Plus is the most effective pesticide against carpet beetle larvae. The combination of a pesticide that kills carpet beetle larvae and an insect growth regulator (IGR) sterilizes them so they never reproduce.
Keep in mind that the above ways to kill carpet beetle larvae are not mutually exclusive – feel free to combine the various methods for the fastest results.
Carpet Beetle Pupae
The carpet beetle larva becomes a pupa in the skin of its last stage larva. This is the stage where it will become an adult.
The carpet beetle larvae look like cocoons and are white. These pupae are likely to be found near what they consumed during larval phase.
The larva will become a fully-grown adult once it has matured.
You can kill carpet beetle larvae and eggs using most methods for killing carpet beetle puppies. One caveat: because carpet beetle larvae are protected with cocoons, some pesticide options, such as Boric Acid, NyGuard Plus, and Diatomaceous earth, may not be effective.
Adult Carpet Beetle
It is the final stage of a carpet beetle’s life cycle when it finally looks like an actual beetle. This is also the only time in a carpet beetle’s life when it’ll be able to fly. It will also use this ability to attempt to navigate outdoors.
That’s because the diet of a carpet beetle larva is disgusting to a full-grown carpet beetle.
Adult carpet beetles aren’t interested in chewing on your furniture and clothes. The adult carpet beetles prefer to consume a plant-based diet that includes pollen, nectar and honey. The new adult beetles are also interested in finding other beetles with which to mat.
And they don’t have a lot of time to do this – adult carpet beetles only live a couple weeks.
They are so desperate for a mate, and attracted to light that they may try to escape your house. This is where you might see beetle-like insects flying about your windows.
Adult carpet beetles are found outdoors. They swarm and then find a companion, repeating the cycle.
The last thing that you want to happen is for this cycle to continue in your house. The best approach to dealing with adult carpet beetles, is not to allow them to get into your home.
Carpet Beetles Keep Away
An ounce of prevention can save a lot of money. Carpet beetles are just one example of this.
Here’s the full guide on how to prevent carpet beetles from ever happening to you to begin with.
And remember – even if you’ve had carpet beetles once, you can always get them again. It takes just a carpet beetle to fly through your windows, searching for delicious natural fabrics for their young.
You can implement the carpet beetle preventive strategies above and be aware of the symptoms so you do not get another infestation. We wish you all the best.