Carpet beetles are hard to target and make rather unwanted dinner guests. These small pests will make a glorious feast out of your animal origin materials, including furs, wools, feathers, or leather. If an infestation is in your home, you’ll often find these critters around the edges of rugs and carpets, underneath upholstered furniture, or underneath baseboards.
Despite their name, these picky eaters prefer not to eat the synthetic materials of the modern carpet. But these beetles will make an exception to the rule if your carpet’s synthetic material has a nutritious blend of animal fabrics with savory oils, scrummy sweat, and free food.
Adult carpet beetles can vary between 1/8- to 3/16-inch in length, are oval-shaped, and are easily confused with bed bugs. There are many species of carpet beetles, including the black, common, furniture, and varied carpet beetle. Managing these insects can be a challenge, so we’ve gathered 10 control solutions to help keep these beetles off the guest list.
It’s the larvae, not the adult carpet beetles, that do the most damage. Larvae prefer to feast on animal products, such as skins, furs, wool, hair, dead insects, or feathers. Though they do not prefer synthetic materials, larvae may eat an article with a blend of wool and synthetic fibers. These insects may feed on rice, grains, dried meats, peas, and many other stored food products.
Adult carpet beetles lay eggs on desirable food sources. Eggs will hatch in approximately two weeks. Larvae prefer dark, secluded places to feed. These young carpet beetles may burrow deep into their food source to shed their skins and burrow their fecal pellets. Their feces are about the size of a grain of salt.
It can be challenging to identify whether clothes moths or carpet beetles are causing damage. Keep in mind that carpet beetles are more likely to damage one large area of the material. Clothes moth damage usually appears as scattered holes and webbing. Unlike clothes moths, carpet beetles will leave behind molted skin.
How do I get carpet beetles?
Carpet beetles can fly into homes through open doors or windows. They may also come in through cut flowers brought in from the outdoors. According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, carpet beetles are likely to infest wild buckwheat, crepe myrtle, and spirea flowers. It’s essential to wash and inspect used furniture, clothes, or other animal origin products brought into your home as carpet beetles may have infested them.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
Dry-cleaning can kill carpet beetles in any life stage. Wash and dry clean materials that you have not used for a long time or are dirty. Dirty fabrics containing sweat or food are attractive to carpet beetles. When bringing home used clothes or animal origin materials, make sure to dry clean the items before storing them.
2. Perform routine cleanings
These critters like to hide around the edges of carpets and rugs. Perform scheduled cleaning of rugs, upholstered furniture, blankets, drapes, carpets, and closets to ensure no infestation has the opportunity to grow.
Prevent carpet beetles by vacuuming upholstered furniture, carpets, and rugs. Vacuum hard-to-reach areas, such as under furniture, heat ducts, floor cracks, or attics, to collect lint. After vacuuming, throw the contents of the vacuum bag in an outside trash can, as the bag may contain adult carpet beetles, eggs, or larvae.
4. Store items properly
Before putting your items for storage, ensure they are clean and are pest-free. Place them in an airtight container. The Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of California recommends inserting a layer of paper every few inches.
On these papers, they suggest placing mothballs, flakes, or crystals registered for control of carpet beetles on fabrics. Do not have these products come in contact with plastic buttons, hangers, or garment bags as the plastic may melt. These products are not safe for children and may be mistaken for candy.
Store your items in hard plastic containers. Carpet beetles can chew through plastic bags.
You may also store items in an oxygen-free container. However, this task can be difficult to execute, given the required chemicals, treatment time, and materials.
5. Remove attractive debris
Remove from your home any materials that can sustain an infestation, such as old spider webs and wildlife nests. Discard any infected or neglected clothing articles.
6. Check windows
Light attracts carpet beetles. Inspect your window sills, drapes, or window panes for any signs of carpet beetles.
7. Inspect stored foods
Check any stored foods, such as grains, rice, peas, that may attract carpet beetles. Pet foods may also attract an infestation.
8. Set sticky traps
Sticky traps baited with pheromones can help identify where an infestation may be occurring. Setting sticky traps can assist in monitoring the effectiveness of control methods. If your sticky traps begin catching fewer carpet beetles, then your other control methods are likely working.
9. Use insecticide
You may apply an insecticide to control a carpet beetle infestation. Ensure the product is a registered carpet beetle insecticide and follow all label instructions.
10. Heat or freeze infested items
If extreme heat or cold will not damage the infected object, heating or freezing the item can act as an effective control solution. The Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of California recommends heating the infested object for at least 30 minutes at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, freeze the item in a plastic bag for two weeks at a temperature below 18 F.
When to Call a Professional
If mattresses, comforters, pillows, or any furniture with stuffing have a carpet beetle infestation, these items must be fumigated by a professional. You cannot eliminate the infestation by simply spraying the outside surfaces with insecticide.
If you’re implementing any of the above solutions and your infestation continues to grow, call a pest control professional. A pest control expert can help identify the infestation, execute control methods, and provide preventive measures.