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How to get rid of carpet beetles

Information, facts and resources to help you deal with an infestation of carpet beetles and, if the worst happens, how to destroy the carpet beetles and prevent this household pests return.


Carpet Beetles

What does a carpet beetle look like?

carpet beetle

Carpet Beetle

More Carpet Beetle Images

Carpet Beetle Description

  • Carpet Beetles are dark and some species have coloured marks on their backs.
  • Carpet Beetles are small, oval insects.
  • The most common species, the black carpet beetle, is a shiny black with brownish legs.
  • Carpet Beetles are about 1/4 inch (6.4mm) long.
  • Four common species of Carpet Beetle are; the black carpet beetle, the varied carpet beetle, the common carpet beetle and the furniture beetle.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae are usually about the size of the adult beetle, 1/4 inch or less in length.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae have dense tufts of long bristles on their bodies.
  • Black Carpet Beetle larvae additionally, have a long tuft of hair at the end of their bodies.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae are striped tan and white in colour.
  • The life cycle of all carpet beetles consists of four stages; the egg, the larva, the pupa and the adult stages
  • Carpet beetles belong to the family of beetles known as dermestids.

Where do carpet beetles live?

  • Adult Carpet Beetles are found indoors at windows and on screens.
  • Carpet Beetles prefer dark undisturbed areas such as closets, attics, and within boxes where woolens and furs are stored.
  • Carpet Beetles are also found along and under the edges of carpeting and underneath upholstered furniture.
  • Carpet beetle larvae often wander about the home from the original infestation. This spreads the carpet beetle infestation throughout the house.
  • Carpet Beetles may be found in chimneys or between walls where they feed on dead animal carcasses or discarde nests.
  • Adult Carpet Beetles fly in May and June and are attracted to bright lights at night. They may enter a building by an open building or door.
  • Carpet Beetles are also inadvertenly brought into homes with cut flowers as the adult carpet beetle feeds on pollen.

What are the signs of carpet beetle infestation?

  • Carpet Beetle larvae shed their skins several times during their life cycle and signs of the live larvae and the discarded carpet beetle larvae skins may be found.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae can sometimes be seen crawling along a surface away from where they feed.
  • Carpet Beetles larvae chew irregular holes in carpets, rugs, blankets, clothes and fabrics and these signs of carpet beetle activity may be seen in the home.
  • Check behind furniture and under, behind basebourds and skirting boards, under rugs and carpets, and in linen or clothes cupboards for signs of the carpet beetle larvae or the carpet beetle larvae cases.

What do carpet beetles eat?

  • Adult Carpet Beetles feed primarily on pollen and nectar and can be found on outdoor plants during the summer.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae feed on animal fibers and organic matter, typically wool, hide, hair, silk, felt, leather, foodstuffs and cereals, pasta, nuts, and of course, carpets and rugs, as well as blankets and other household fabrics.
  • Dead organic matter provides food in the form of hair, carpet beetles often feed on dead squirrel and rabbit carcasses for instance.
  • Accumalations of pet hair, and human hair, can be a source of food for carpet beetles.

Why must carpet beetles be controlled?

  • Carpet Beetle larvae cause damage to wool carpets and other wool and organic based products such as furs, hides, horn, silk, hair and feathers.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae will also feed on linen, cotton, and rayon if these fabrics are soiled with juice, food, or animal excreta.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae are pests in cereals, stored grains, nuts, meal, and similar products.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae are also frequently found as pests of warehouses, insect collections and preserved museum specimens.

How can I get rid of carpet beetles?

  • Establish initially where the source of the carpet beetle infestation is occuring.
  • Check all potential food materials inside the house for carpet beetle larvae.
  • Carpet beetles may be coming from old bird or wasp nests.
  • As carpet beetles feed on hair and fur, a dead mouse or squirrel could be the original cause of the infestation.
  • Treat areas known to be infested with carpet beetles with a specific pesticide to exterminate carpet beetles.
  • Clothes, fabrics, rugs and carpets should be dry-cleaned or washed thouroughly in hot water to exteminate carpet beetles and kill all stages of the beetles life cycle.
  • Susceptible items can be placed in a freezer for fourteen days.
  • Naphthalene flakes or balls or paradichlorobenzene (PDB) crystals in clothes storage areas can be a deterrent.
  • If carpet beetles are found throughout the house treatment with a residual insecticide product in all areas may be neccessary. Consider seeking a professional household pest control expert to extermine these pests.
  • Remember pesticides can be poisonous to children and pets. After use store container and contents away from children, or dispose of empty containers safely.

How can I prevent carpet beetles from returning?

  • Carpet Beetle infestations can be controlled and prevented by good hygiene practice.
  • Regular vacuuming can prevent the carpet beetle larvae from becoming established, by removing them in the early stages as well as removing the foodstuffs that the carpet beetle larvae need to survive. Vacuum bags should be immediately disposed of as they may contain carpet beetle eggs, larvae, or adult insects.
  • Throw away old clothes, rugs, and other valuless organic materiels that may serve as a source of food for carpet beetles.
  • Treat likely areas for infestation with pesticide powder to deter and destroy carpet beetles.
  • Adding moth cystals or flakes to stored wool and clothes will deter and prevent carpet beetles.
  • Avoid accumalations of pet hair - this can be a primary food source for a carpet beetle infestation.
  • Clear out and dispose of old nests, spiders webs, pet hair, feathers, lint and dust - all serve as a potential food source for carpet beetles.
  • Before storing clothes and other susceptible fabrics ensure they are thouroughly cleaned and, if possible stored in an airtight container of some kind.
  • Sticky traps, either plain or with specific pheromones to attract carpet beetles can be placed at windows and likely entrances to a property to trap the adult flying carpet beetles.

Carpet Beetle Poisons and Carpet Beetle Pesticides

  • Suitable products can be purchased from hardware shops and garden centres.
  • Remember pesticides can be poisonous to children and pets. After use store container and contents away from children, or dispose of empty containers safely.

The "Green Option" - Environmentally friendly control of carpet beetles

  • Carpet Beetles can be prevented from getting established by regular and thourough vacuuming.
  • Feeding opportunities for the carpet beetle larvae should be minimised by keeping foodstuffs in airtight jars and general good hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Carpet Beetle larvae are attracted to soiled fabrics, for instance clothing soiled with body oil or perspiration, and fabrics with food stains or spills. Making sure that these potential food sources for carpet beetles are not left lying around is good practice in prevention.
  • Thouroughly clean cracks and crevices where lint, food crumbs or dead insects may accumulate, again, good vaccuuming is a good deterrent. Clean cupboards and closets well and vacuum to remove all debris and dut to discourage further infestations of carpet beetles.
  • Clean clothes, fur, silk and other fabrics can be stored in airtight cases or sealed bags tp prevent carpet beetles getting access to these potential foodstuffs.
  • Effective methods of controlling carpet beetles are to either enclose the item in a plastic bag and place it in a freezer for 10 - 14 days at temperatures below 18F or heat the item in an oven for at least 30 minutes to temperatures above 120F. Of course, be sure that your item will tolerate these extremes of heat or cold - they are fatal to carpet beetles and may damage your item!

Carpet Beetles : Household Pests

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