How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles - What Are They, How Do They Harm Carpets

Carpet beetles image from University of Kentucky

Carpet beetles feed on a variety of animal-based materials including wool, fur, silk, feathers and leather. Items commonly infested include wool sweaters, coats, blankets, carpets, oriental rugs, down pillows and comforters and upholstered furniture.

Synthetic fabrics such as nylon, olefin, polyester and rayon are rarely attacked unless they are heavily soiled with food stains or body oils. Serious infestations of carpet beetles can develop undetected in a home, causing significant damage to clothing, bedding, floor coverings and other articles. Carpet beetle infestations can even cause allergies, brought on by the inhalation of the small hairs that are shed by the larvae of carpet beetles.

Many times, a carpet beetle infestation may be mistaken for bed bugs. They can be found all over the United States, but are more prevalent in northern coastal states where there is a colder and more humid climate.

How to Identify Carpet Beetles:

Although there are many different species of carpet beetles, the adults of all species are small, oval-shaped beetles about 1/8 inch long. The black carpet beetle (the most common species) is shiny black. Adults of other common species are brightly colored in various patterns of white, brown, yellow and orange.

The larvae or immature stages of carpet beetles are about 1/4 inch long and densely covered with hairs or bristles. Only the larval stage feeds on fabric and causes damage. The adults feed on flowers, but are often seen indoors around light fixtures and windows, indicating that a larval infestation is present somewhere within the home.

They prefer to feed in dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, attics, within boxes where woolens and furs are stored, along and under the edges of carpeting, underneath upholstered furniture, and in air ducts where they feed on lint, pet hair and other bits of debris.

Carpet beetle infestations may also originate from bird or animal nests or an animal carcass present in an attic, chimney or wall void. They also occasionally feed on seeds, pet food or cereal products in the kitchen or pantry.

How to Control a Carpet Beetle Infestation:

Identify the source if you want to get rid of carpet beetles. Look for fecal pellets and the shed skins of the larva. Also look for holes in fabrics. Carpet beetles tend to feed in dark, secluded areas like closets, drawers, basements, in between walls and insulation, attics, and storage boxes. You may want to check under carpets and rugs, pick up couches and large pieces of furniture and inspect those thoroughly as well.

Immediately and directly remove the carpet beetles with a thorough vacuuming. This should be the first thing you do to get rid of carpet beetles. Make sure to get the larvae -they're the hairy little caterpillar looking type things.

Carpet beetle eggs are incredibly resilient. You'll need to get all of the infested clothes and fabrics into hot water and soap right away. If you're dealing with a rug or a carpet, you'll want to have a professional carpet cleaner or an exterminator come in and do the job for you.

Routine vacuuming effectively removes carpet beetles which are already present, as well as hair and lint which could support future infestations. Particular attention while vacuuming should be paid to the edges of carpets, along baseboards, underneath furniture and similar “quiet” areas where carpet beetles prefer to feed.

Insecticide applications directed into infested areas are often useful as a supplement to good housekeeping. Insecticide products containing active ingredients such as chlorpyrifos, permethrin, bendiocarb and allethrin are effective against carpet beetles. Sprays may be applied to carpets (especially beneath and along the edge adjacent to the baseboard) and rugs, underneath furniture and other likely areas of infestation where prolonged contact with humans is unlikely. However, many insecticides can permanently damage carpet dye colors. Clothing and bedding should not be sprayed and should be removed before treatment.

Professional Carpet Beetle Removal:

Control of carpet beetles requires patience and a thorough inspection to locate all sources of infestation. Elimination of widespread, ongoing infestations may require the services of a professional pest control operator.

NOTE: Many states require that a contractor applying a pest control product be licensed. Please contact your state EPA office for further information.

Acknowledgment: Much of this information, including the image of the carpet beetles at the top, was obtained from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology.

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Published by: Bane-Clene® Corp.
Copyright: Bane-Clene Corp.

Date Published: November 12, 2014

Date Modified: July 22, 2019