Carpet beetles? No, we are not talking about some insects rocking to the beats of The Beatles on your carpet. We are talking about this four-wing creature that can damage clothing, carpets and furniture in your home if left untreated. An infestation of that kind can be hazardous both to your carpets and to you if you suffer from asthma, so it is best to get rid of it, as you should with carpet moths.
Do you have signs of a carpet beetle infestation? Don’t panic! Having these pests isn’t as bad as you may think. You’ll see that when using the proper methods, it’s easy to eject the intruders and restore your house to its tidy state. Keep on reading to find all you need to know about carpet beetles, ways to get rid of them and tips for prevention.
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Know the enemy: carpet beetles
Carpet beetles are small, with an oval-shaped body. They usually have a brown colour, but the speckles on their shell can vary with black, yellow, orange, green and white-ish patterns. Keep in mind though, that many common carpet beetles don’t necessarily attack just carpets and rugs.
Different species of carpet beetles
As these pests feed primarily on organic fabrics and materials, some species come with a name based on what they like to eat. Here are the 5 main types of carpet beetles:
- Varied carpet beetle–Anthrenus verbasci: They are the smallest compared to the other species, reaching 3,5mm in size and can live up to 3 years. They are almost round in shape and have different-coloured fine scales, forming brown, yellow, and white patches.
- Fur carpet beetle-Attagenus pellio: This type can get to 6mm in size. Its colour varies in the hues of red, brown and black. Each of their wings has a distinctive white patch.
- Furniture carpet beetle-Anthrenus flavipes: It looks similar to the varied carpet beetle in size and colour. Its size is around 3-5mm and has a rounded shell with light brown speckles and black and white markings.
- Black carpet beetle-Attagenus unicolour: These beetles are no bigger than 8mm, are oval-shaped, and black in colour. They have hard shells, a short life cycle and live only for a few weeks when they eat rarely.
- Leather beetle-Dermestes maculatus: Relatively large compared to other species (6 to 10mm), this is a carrion type of beetle, which lives only for a few months.
How carpet beetle larvae look like
Let’s clarify one thing first; adult beetles feed exclusively on pollen and plant nectar, but their offspring, the larvae, is the actual vermin. They are the reason behind ruined furnishings and floor coverings, as they eat fabrics, carpets, fur, textiles, leather and animal matter (feathers, pet hair or dead flesh). Adult beetles will “reside” outdoors, where they can find food sources and mate. When females lay eggs in a cosy crevice or another hidden place in the interior of a house, the larvae will attack anything organic made from wool, silk, cotton, leather, fur and so on. To separate them, keep in mind that adults are beetles while the larvae are grub-like. Here are the main characteristics that feature them:
- They are larger than the adult beetle and measure approximately 2.5 cm in length.
- Carpet beetle larvae are light brown or black.
- They have dark bristle-like hairs all over them except for three golden ones on the abdomen. Their prickly hairs can cause skin irritation if they graze against you.
- They can live up to three years, and during this time, they have voracious appetites.
- They prefer a warm, dry environment and, of course, an abundant supply of food. This makes the average centrally heated house a veritable haven for them.
Identifying a carpet beetle infestation
First, it is essential to make sure you are dealing with carpet beetles and not confuse them with some type of ladybug or bed bug. Misidentification can lead to using the wrong pesticides and methods, costing you time and money. Carpet beetles leave pretty apparent signs of their presence. So, read on and find out how they get into your house, where to find them and what to look out for.
How they get into your house
- Like most beetle larvae, they are adept at moving around, and they soon find their way into the upper floors of a house, usually through hot water pipes.
- Having carpet beetles is generally just bad luck; however, if the problem persists, it’s because they’re able to thrive off a dirty carpet. They will eat hair, dead insects and dead skin. If you don’t regularly vacuum your floor and clean all kinds of stains off your carpet, it can provide the most delicious banquet for these carpet beetles.
- It’s also possible that they use chimneys, plumbing openings, vents and electrical conduits as a sesame door to your home.
- They can find their way into your home in all sorts of ways, through shopping bags, flying through cracks or open windows, bunches of flowers, pet hair and skins and already contaminated fabrics and furnishings.
Where to find them
They are a threat to natural fibres, clothing, carpeting, and upholstery only in the larval stage. The larvae tend to hide under carpets or within folds of clothing or blankets. They favour dark areas like closets and behind baseboards, and they’re difficult to spot with the naked eye. Sometimes though, you can see them making their way down a wall or along a windowsill in their search for food.
Main signs of a carpet beetle and larvae infestation
The main signs of a carpet beetle and larvae problem are:
- Holes and damage trails in carpeting, rugs, clothing and upholstered furniture.
- Damage to animal products such as feathers and fur.
- Ruined books, paperwork, paintings, and photos.
- Excrements near the affected area and carpet beetle activity.
- Hungry larvae right in action, feasting away on your fur rug or wool carpet.
- Live or dead adult carpet beetles on a window sill.
- Tiny piles of bristle shed skins around the affected area resulting from larvae transforming into fully grown adults.
- Faecal pellets that are very small, dry and black or brown.
7 ways to get rid of carpet beetles
Carpet beetles are persistent pests that can destroy your carpets, clothing, and other fabrics. While getting rid of them can be a challenge, it’s manageable to do it on your own, without the expense of an exterminator.
Vacuum your whole home
A thorough cleaning is the quickest way to remove carpet beetles from your carpeting.
- Focus on the most infested areas, but vacuum your whole home to make sure you remove all beetles.
- Vacuum any fabric-covered areas that you can’t put in the washing machine and all upholstered furniture.
- Check your rug’s labels to see how they should be cleaned, and use a steam cleaner or even hire a professional to do the job if necessary.
- Continue vacuuming your whole house at least once a day for a week.
- If the problem is bad, you may need to vacuum multiple times a day for the first few days.
- Throw away the bag after you finish vacuuming.
Wash all your clothes
Carpet beetles are very resilient, and hot, soapy water is the best way to kill them. Following that step, you can also get rid of clothes moths.
- Put all your clothing, linens, and other fabrics in the machine and wash them on a hot cycle with detergent, even if they don’t seem affected.
- Dry clean all the clothing items that can’t be washed.
- Throw away any infested clothing. If some pieces have been badly eaten away, toss them into an outdoor trash can, even if you don’t see any carpet beetles or larvae left on the material.
Spray insecticide on the areas you can’t clean
Choose a specialised product that lists carpet beetles on its label. Keep in mind that this should be used as a spot treatment only.
- Follow the product’s directions carefully and apply it to any fabrics you can’t clean another way.
- Spray places that collect lint, like under or around carpets, closet walls, shelving and cracks. You shouldn’t spray clothing or bedding.
- Wear protective clothing and gloves when applying insecticide.
- Afterwards, wash your hands and leave the area while the insecticide disperses in the air.
Dust boric acid on the harder to reach areas
It can be hard to reach some infested areas, such as wall voids and attics.
- Sprinkle these areas evenly with boric acid.
- You can make a DIY larva killing spray—first mix 1 tablespoon of boric acid with 2 cups (473 mL) of hot water. Then, stir it until the powder dissolves. Mist it over hard-to-reach spots using a plastic spray bottle.
- Avoid using boric acid on dark materials since it has a bleaching effect.
Use hormone-based glue traps for the most severe infestations
Some pest problems can be more stubborn. Use hormone- or pheromone-based traps to deal with these problems. You can also use sticky traps without a hormone. You can buy traps online or from pest control or pesticide supply stores.
- Place sticky traps throughout your home to catch beetles and prevent further problems.
- Put traps around entry points like doors, windows, or crevices and in confined areas.
- Check the traps 2 times a week.
Kill carpet beetles with cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has impressive benefits and offers fantastic results in cleansing, like cleaning your washing machine or even a burnt pan. As it turns out, it’s also a great natural way to get rid of carpet beetles.
- To treat large carpet areas, use a carpet cleaner machine and then put vinegar on a big cloth and dilute it with some water. Finally, apply the mix to the affected areas. This will kill carpet beetles but also repel them from coming back.
- You can also make a DIY simple vinegar spray to use on harder to reach places, like closets and under furniture. Simply pour the vinegar into a spray bottle, mix with some water and mist it onto the larvae.
Ask for help from professional carpet beetle control services
If all the methods mentioned above fail to deliver your desired results or you don’t have the time to do the job alone, call a pest control service. Pest control experts typically know what they are doing. Just to be sure you’re not getting into more trouble by contracting shady service, you can check the company online to see reviews.
How to prevent future infestations
To prevent a carpet beetle infestation, it is essential applying vigilance as the first line of defence against a potential problem. You should:
- Check your doors and screens for holes and keep them closed as much as you can.
- Examine any plants or flowers that you bring inside the house for signs of carpet beetles or larvae.
- For any recurring appearence, spray liquid insecticide around the lower outside portion of your home and near entry points.
- Check for signs of carpet beetle eggs around and under bulky furniture.
- If you’ve suffered from a beetle problem in the past, consider replacing organic fabrics with synthetic materials.
- Use Boric acid or an insecticidal spray as a preventative measure.
- Throw away any left pet food and all infested items.
- Make sure to keep hair and lint to a minimum.
- Adopt a cleaning schedule, combining your vacuum cleaner or steam mop with dry cleaning. Vacuum your carpets and wash your clothes and other fabrics at least once every 2 weeks.
- Store off-season clothes and fabrics in sealed plastic bags or containers.
- Keep some mothballs, flakes, or crystals in your storage place.
Carpet beetles are a nuisance, but regular care will help keep your home pest-free. Make sure to take action immediately when you confirm you’re dealing with these beetles since they are big eaters. They are also fast breeders, so they can quickly do significant damage to any item made with natural fibres. Follow a combination of our tips to get rid of them, and stick to the additional information about preventing future infestations. You’ve got this!