Carpet beetles: if you leave these small pests unchecked, they can become a real nuisance in your home.
As their name suggests, carpet beetles can infest our carpets and often feed on other items in the home made from wool, leather, silk, and more.
Although their damage looks similar to that caused by clothes moths, these insects are vastly different.
If you’ve spotted carpet beetles in your home, or you suspect they may be responsible for the damage you’ve noticed in your furnishings, you probably have a lot of questions.
Can carpet beetles bite? Are they dangerous to my health? How do I get rid of them?
Stick with us to find the answers to all of these questions and more.
What Are Carpet Beetles?
Carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped beetles that infest our carpets and cause damage to our homes. When we say small, we’re not lying! Carpet beetles are between 1/16 – ⅛-inch, making them notoriously tricky to spot.
Not all carpet beetles look the same. There are between 500-700 species of beetle; most have various patterns on their back, which can be orange, yellow, brown, or white.
Female beetles lay approximately 50-100 eggs in their chosen spots, so your infestation can spread fast without quick action.
Although some of their breeding sites can be obvious, others are more secluded. However, many carpet beetles like to breed in fabrics like wool, or they can gather near air vents and ducts.
Most carpet beetle larvae feast on animal-based materials, such as fur and wool. They’ll often destroy items of clothing such as coats and sweaters, but they can even attach pillows, blankets, and rugs.
Carpet beetles tend to attack the fabric folds of these items first. So, if you’ve noticed a rug with suspiciously frayed corners, or clothes with new holes in the creases, there’s a strong risk that carpet beetles are making themselves comfortable in your home.
Although their damage looks similar to the destruction of clothes moths, carpet beetles have also been known to feast on pet food, seeds, and cereals.
Anything plant-based (including your food) risks attracting these insects. They can be found anywhere in your home, and if the infestation has spread, this can make management difficult.
Can Carpet Beetles Affect Your Health?
Although these small, pesky insects are a destructive nuisance, they’re relatively harmless to both humans and pets.
Although they’re considered harmless insects, if your infestation multiplies rapidly, the risks to your health can advance. These insects can be particularly frustrating for homeowners with asthma.
Carpet beetles are covered in small feathers; when they shed, these small feathers can become airborne. This can cause breathing problems in some people, but especially those with asthma.
Although it’s rare, some people can also have allergic reactions to the allergens shed by carpet beetles, which can appear as a raised and itchy rash when their irritants come into contact with the skin.
Unfortunately, dermatological conditions caused by carpet beetles are not uncommon.
Although they’re not usually dangerous, they can be irritating for the sufferer. Some common dermatological conditions caused by carpet beetles can include:
- Papular urticaria
Medical experts agree that the Anthrenus Verbasci species of carpet beetle can be the most dangerous for humans.
This species is considered the most destructive of all carpet beetles, and they’re responsible for most dermatological conditions caused by these insects.
If you have a carpet beetle infestation and you’ve recently developed a dermatological condition, it might be more than a coincidence.
We’d recommend visiting your doctor for more advice. Dealing with your infestation should also be a top priority, and we’ll provide more advice on how to do this later in the article.
Do Carpet Beetles Bite?
Although carpet beetles are considered harmless, there’s a possibility that they can irritate our skin and cause allergic reactions in some people. But do they present any other dangers to our health, and can they bite us?
The good news is that carpet beetles are NOT poisonous, and they don’t tend to bite humans. However, if you have an allergic reaction to carpet beetles, you may develop a rash, lumps, or bumps, which can be commonly mistaken for bites.
Although they don’t bite, carpet beetles can still transmit germs. When their feathers are shed, the airborne fibers can cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation.
However, some of the biggest risks come when carpet beetles gain access to our food.
For example, if carpet beetles infest food, they will leave behind traces of saliva and excrement, which, if ingested, could pose serious risks to our health.
If you suspect that carpet beetles may have infested your food, dispose of all exposed food sources immediately.
Bed Bugs Vs. Carpet Beetles: The Differences
If you’ve never seen bed bugs or carpet beetles before, it can be tough to know the differences.
These two pests often get confused, but to tackle your infestation correctly, you’ll need to know exactly what insect you’re dealing with. Thankfully, a few clues can help you tell the two apart.
First off, carpet beetles and bed bugs do NOT feed on the same things. If you have a bed bug infestation, you’ll know about it pretty quickly.
Bed bugs love to feed on humans: we are their hosts, so you’ll see plenty of bites on your skin. If you’re often getting bitten in bed, there’s a good chance that bed bugs are to blame.
On the other hand, we are not hosts for carpet beetles. Although they feed on dead skin, they’re not attracted to living skin and don’t bite.
This is why your materials like hair, fur, wool, and other plant-based items are the primary targets for carpet beetles.
Although it’s possible to have an infestation of both pests at the same time, it’s unlikely. However, having a bed bug infestation does increase your risk of developing a carpet beetle infestation.
This is because carpet beetles love to feast on other dead insects: so, if you have the remains of bed bugs in your home, carpet beetles will be attracted to your property, and you’ll be at risk of infestation.
To help you improve your spot the difference game, here are a few more notable differences between carpet beetles and bed bugs:
- Carpet beetles can fly (yes, really!), but bed bugs can’t.
- Bed bugs are bigger than carpet beetles. They also resemble apple seeds and have a slightly different shape from carpet beetles.
- Because humans are hosts for bed bugs, they’ll often stay close to their victims. Bed bugs will be found in clothing and in your bed. However, carpet beetles are often found in your carpets, in closets where clothing has been stored for a while, and even in cavities, air ducts, and chimneys. These are uncommon places for bed bugs to dwell.
How To Deal With Carpet Beetles
If you have a carpet beetle infestation, don’t ignore it. Without quick action, your infestation can multiply, and these invaders will quickly set up camp all throughout your home.
As we’ve learned, carpet beetles aren’t just a risk to your fabrics, but they can also cause skin and respiratory irritation. So it’s in your best interests to tackle an infestation at the first signs, but how?
Getting rid of carpet beetles can be difficult without a professional pest controller. However, it’s not impossible.
If you’re looking for both professional and natural remedies to deal with the issue, we’ve compiled this list of some of the most effective methods you can use.
Here are the most popular natural tips and remedies to treat carpet beetles:
Your vacuum is your best friend. If you’ve noticed an infestation, it’s important to vacuum your home regularly. Tidy homes are less likely to attract pests!
Don’t just vacuum your carpet; you should also be focusing on other items such as rugs and upholstered furniture: anywhere that carpet beetles can dwell should be at the top of your list.
We’d also recommend vacuuming your curtains. Take the effort to clean hard-to-reach areas, too – areas that aren’t frequently disturbed can be hotspots for carpet beetles.
If you’re dealing with a pretty big infestation, you should be vacuuming daily. At a minimum, you should be vacuuming once a week – however, the less you vacuum, the less chance you have of eliminating your infestation.
Steam cleaners are a brilliant tool to tackle all sorts of infestations, and they’re just as effective on carpet beetles, too.
So if you have thick, shaggy rugs, or upholstered furnishings that are difficult to hoover, your steam cleaner can help you access those tricky areas.
Carpet beetles are unlikely to survive the extreme heat emitted by your steamer. Steam cleaners also tend to be more powerful than vacuums. In short, these tools are one of the best things you can use to tackle your infestation!
If you can, we’d recommend steaming your carpets and other furnishings at least once a week for the best results.
Boric acid is one of the most popular natural flea treatments out there, and it can also help eliminate your carpet beetles.
Boric acid is naturally dehydrating. When applied to affected areas, boric acid will dry out your carpet beetles and cause them to suffocate, putting a swift end to your infestation.
Here’s how to use boric acid for your carpet beetle infestation:
- Mix 1 tbsp of boric acid with two cups of hot water. Add them to a spray bottle, and mix together until fully dissolved.
- Once the mixture is dissolved, carefully spray any problem areas, such as carpets, curtains, sofas, dark corners, skirting boards, and air ducts.
- Leave your boric acid mixture to settle into your furnishings, and do its job.
Note: Boric acid is pretty strong stuff. If you’re treating a room, it’s best to keep your windows wide open for ventilation. Keep yourself, your family, and your pets out of the treated room for several hours to avoid irritation.
If you’ve got large numbers of carpet beetles dwelling in your home, you’ll need to take every measure possible to prevent them from multiplying. Washing everything is one of the best things you can do.
Once you’ve steamed, vacuumed, and sprayed your carpet, grab every washable fabric that you can and wash it at a high temperature with plenty of detergent.
This can include curtains, bedding, clothing, washable rugs, and more. If you have fabrics that can’t be put in the washing machine, wash them by hand in hot water.
Have A Clear Out
Not all carpet beetle dwellings are easy to spot. However, if you’ve noticed larvae living in your favorite coat or jumper, it’s best to throw it out.
You might think that you can treat the problem by just washing the affected clothing, but if you’re dealing with a large infestation, it’s not worth the risk – especially if the carpet beetles are already munching through your fabrics.
It may be tough to say goodbye to your fabrics, but if you’ve noticed several carpet beetles making their home there, throw them away quickly to prevent the infestation from spreading.
You might have already heard of this powder as a natural flea treatment, but it can also work on your carpet beetles, too.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that’s made from fossilized diatoms (aquatic creatures). Its ingredients work as a natural pesticide, making it the ideal natural remedy for your carpet beetle infestation.
Like boric acid, this powder works by drying out and suffocating the carpet beetles. To treat your carpets with diatomaceous earth, simply sprinkle a liberal amount over your affected fabrics, leave it for a few hours, and vacuum it up.
Remember to dispose of your vacuum bag immediately after cleaning to prevent any live beetles from escaping and re-infesting your home.
Make sure you apply your powder to any hard-to-reach areas, too, as these can be attractive places for carpet beetles to dwell.
If you’ve exhausted all natural remedies, or you simply want something a little stronger to handle your infestation, here are some of the most effective professional remedies you can try:
Although insecticides are often a last resort, they’re an incredibly effective option – especially for large infestations.
Insecticides are available at most grocery stores, pet stores, and online retailers.
Insecticides can be sprayed directly onto your problem areas, such as carpets, rugs, and curtains, and their formulations are designed to either kill or deter insects – or both.
There are many insecticides to choose from. Some use more eco-friendly, natural ingredients, while others use more powerful chemicals to tackle the issue.
Whichever insecticide you choose, you’ll be making a great investment – as the name suggests, insecticides can treat all sorts of insect infestations. So, if you’ve been plagued by an influx of spiders or flies, an insecticide can eliminate them, too.
Remember: insecticides can contain extremely harmful chemicals and should be used with caution. Always read the manufacturer’s advice and wear protective clothing before using an insecticide.
Professional Pest Controller
If your carpet beetle infestation feels too overwhelming to manage, it may be best to call in a pest controller.
This is the best option if carpet beetles have now infested multiple rooms, they’re noticeably visible on your furnishings or causing you extreme physical irritation.
A professional pest controller (sometimes called an exterminator) is trained to find the source of the infestation and treat it professionally.
Exterminators are well trained and experienced and will have access to incredibly high-strength chemicals that you might not be able to get at your local store.
They can also give you advice on how to prevent future infestations from occurring.
Although this is a more expensive option, it’s worth it if you have a large infestation that you’ve been unable to eliminate with other treatments.
However, due to the strength of the chemicals, you should be prepared to leave your home for several hours (or even a whole day), depending on the severity of the infestation, to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals.
How To Prevent Carpet Beetle Infestations
Dealing with an infestation is one thing, but how do you prevent carpet beetles from re-entering your home?
Thankfully, there are many ways to protect you and your property against another invasion. To keep carpet beetles out of your home, you should:
- Carefully inspect your property for any noticeable holes, cracks, cavities, or other entry points. If you can, we’d recommend sealing these up with a high-quality sealant to prevent carpet beetles from coming in. Take care around cables and pipes when using a sealant.
- Keep your home as clean as possible. Vacuum regularly to prevent build-ups of dust, and keep your countertops clean from dirt and leftovers. The cleaner your home, the less risk of infestation.
- Don’t leave open food out on the counter. Where possible, always store your food in sealed packages or air-tight containers, and keep it away from your countertops. Remember, carpet beetles are also attracted to food, so don’t take the risk!
- If you can, attach mesh screens to your windows to prevent carpet beetles and other bugs from coming in. These screens will also allow you to keep your windows open, so you don’t have to worry about getting too hot in the summer.
- Carpet beetles love to dwell in dark corners, so let as much natural light into your rooms as possible.
- Regularly inspect any dark or damp corners in your home, and keep them free of dust. When you vacuum or steam your home, pay extra attention to these areas, as they’re often hotspots for carpet beetles and other bugs.
- If you’re introducing new plants into your home, inspect them first to make sure they’re free of any pests. Believe it or not, this is a common way for carpet beetles to gain entry into homes, so do a thorough inspection outside before bringing your plants in.
Facts About Carpet Beetles You Need To Know
The three most common species of carpet beetles are:
- Furniture Carpet Beetle: These have an oval-shaped body and are roughly 2.5mm in length. The furniture carpet beetle is often white, black, or yellow.
- Black Carpet Beetle: These beetles are slightly bigger, at approximately 3-5mm long. They’re either black or dark brown, which can make them difficult to spot on dark furnishings.
- Varied Carpet Beetle: The varied carpet beetle is between 2-3mm long, and it usually has a yellow and brown upper body with irregular dark stripes and distinctive white scales. These beetles have wings.
Unlike most pests, adult carpet beetles aren’t the most destructive – it’s their larvae. The larvae are the ones that feed on soft furnishings and will attack anything from your carpets to your sofa.
Carpet beetle larvae can also survive for up to several weeks without food, making them difficult to manage.
Carpet beetles are a nuisance, and although they can cause irritation, they don’t bite.
However, carpet beetles can still destroy your furnishings and cause allergic reactions, so it’s important to deal with an infestation as soon as it takes hold.
If you think carpet beetles have invaded your home, treat the affected areas as soon as possible, and visit a doctor if you think you’re experiencing an allergic reaction.