Imagine the following scenario: You are walking around in your house barefoot. While crossing one of your carpets, you step on something. You lift up your foot and what do you know - a squashed ladybug. Poor little thing.
What if it isn’t actually a ladybug, but rather a carpet beetle? If you have experienced this situation and now want to flee your home, put down your suitcase and continue reading.
We share helpful information on how to get rid of carpet beetles, where you can find them, and of course - how to prevent an infestation.
What do Carpet Beetles Look Like?
Like with most insect species, carpet beetles aren’t just one type. Here are the different kinds of carpet devourers you can find in the average household, their specific behaviour, diet, habits and of course - reproduction cycle and general lifespan:
The three widespread species are:
This type of bug is small in size - about 0.3-0.5cm. It has a round light brown shell, which is speckled with black and white spots, and owns 8 legs. The furniture carpet beetle highly resembles the varied one, which is why many people get them mixed up.
The varied carpet beetle is only 0.25cm, making it the smallest example of the carpet beetle family. It has a slightly rounded shell in a blackish colour with white splatters. The varied carpet beetle has only 6 legs.
This type of carpet beetle is huge in size compared to the rest of the family members - it can reach about 1 cm in length. It also has a specific shape, which makes it easy to distinguish from the rest of its cousin carpet beetles. As the name states, its shell is a solid black colour. It has 6 legs and 2 highly visible antennas.
As the name suggests, carpet beetles mainly munch on wool carpets.
“Nowadays, infestations have dropped a lot, due to the fact that most rugs are made from synthetic fibres, which the bugs can’t eat. In the summer, these insects seem to migrate to cooler areas,” says Alexander Crawley, a professional pest exterminator at Fantastic Pest Control (Australia).
“These pesky critters can occupate your both entire house or just a single rug. Baby carpet beetles are fond of animal hair, dead insects, and even feathers. Adult bugs tend to enjoy a wealthy dinner before laying any eggs. These insects, also know as Coleoptera, in the superorder of Endopterygota, are known to hunt and grow in birds’ nests, pet’s fur, and also carpets, are often attracted to storage containers made from natural materials.” added the expert from Fantastic Pest Control, “Some get a bit more creative and could even attend an insect museum to eat the specimens.”
This particular species is Endopterygota (also known as Holometabola), which means it experiences absolute metamorphosis - from egg to larvae, then to pupae and finally, adulthood.
Black and varied carpet beetles give birth to just one generation, while other species can produce multiple. Lifespan varies a lot too. Some carpet beetles live up to three months while others can prosper for years.
Usually, carpet beetles mate during the summer, lay eggs and die right after that. Their lifespan depends on the amount of food it gets while in the larvae stage.
If you suspect that you are a victim of a carpet beetle attack, but still aren’t 100% sure, here are 5 sure signs of upcoming infestations you should look out for:
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Carpet beetles are not the brightest representative of the Coleoptera family and that’s why they won’t have much trouble while moving into your home undetected. These evil masterminds are known to travel by plant, meaning you can invite them to your house by simply bringing a rose pot to your home.
They also like to use animals as a way to migrate, so don’t be surprised to hear that your cat or dog may have brought an infestation inside. Carpet beetles can enter your property through chimneys, your plumbing system, vents, and even electrical conduits, too. In other words, this sort of insect has a wide range of options, in which it can invade your home, so it's important to maintain the cleanliness of the house if you want to keep these carpet beetles at bay.
Once carpet battles have found their way into your house, they can infest practically anything - from a woolly sweater to a box of pasta.
The idea is that the bugs live near the food source, which can be your kitchen.. So, take a closer look inside your pantry, inspect the rugs and carpets, and don’t forget to inspect within your closet too.
If you’ve covered all the listed areas, but still can’t locate the evil-doers, just to be sure, we advise you to get a professional pest technician to inspect your property one more time.
Put all clothes made from natural materials, especially those you don’t wear that frequently, in plastic bags.
Like we said in the article, carpet beetles can get inside your home by hitchhiking on plants. So, before you decide to bring your favourite flowers inside, inspect them carefully for carpet beetles. The same goes for plants you picked from your garden.
Carpet beetles can fly, so if you leave windows and doors open for an extensive amount of time, you are practically inviting these creatures in. Small holes and damaged walls can also cause problems. Make sure to seal all, and thus prevent bugs from entering.
If you happen to have a bird’s nest located on a tree near your house, make sure to remove it as fast as possible. Carpet beetles are most-known to inhabit the homes of birds and other types of animals.
After you take out your rubbish, make sure to disinfect the actual bin with antibacterial wipes. Thoroughly clean the container every 6 months with bleach, diluted in water or some other cleaning chemical..
Since carpet beetles don’t favour having polyester for dinner, invest in carpets, rugs, sheets, and furniture made from synthetic materials whenever possible.
Vacuum all your carpets and rugs at least once a week. Combine that with regular steam cleaning treatments and eliminate the source of food for larvae - hair, lint, and dead insects. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you can always hire professionals to treat carpeted areas for you.
Are carpet beetles harmful?
Carpet beetles aren’t known to bite humans, but can leave your skin with a nasty rash. Still, while they can't affect your health negatively, carpet beetles are capable of inflicting some serious damage to your possessions.
What kind of damage do carpet beetles cause?
Apart from destroying your carpets and rugs, carpet beetle babies can also attack anything made from wool, silk and fur, food grains, and even your spice rack. Adults prefer a diet made mainly from pollen and nectar.
Can the insect trigger allergic reactions?
Yes, carpet beetle skin and hairs are known to cause irritations like skin rashes. You have to physically get rid of the bugs in order to stop the allergy. Medicaments can help only to a certain level, but won’t fix the overall problem.
Can carpet beetles fly?
Yes, carpet beetles are able to fly, but only the adult ones. Younger insects and larvae can’t.
Will the infestation go away in the winter?
How long does the insect live?
Generally, a carpet beetles’ lifespan is between 9 months and 2 years. This highly depends on the amount of food, the bug consumed, when it was only a larvae.
Like with every other pest infestation, having carpet beetles running around your home is not the most pleasurable experience.
In cases like this, your best option is to hire a professional exterminator. Pest control technicians work with special products and equipment that can put an end to the infestation, without you lifting a finger. Spare yourself the gruesome task and let a professional get rid of the carpet beetles for you.
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Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.