Carpet Beetles – How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Get rid of Carpet Beetles that are damaging your clothes fabrics, carpets or upholstery! Four species of Carpet Beetles are most common: The Black Carpet Beetle, Varied Carpet Beetle, Common Carpet Beetle, and Furniture Carpet Beetle. Together, this group of beetles is more destructive to fabric than Clothes Moths.

CARPET BEETLE IDENTIFICATION

To get rid of Carpet Beetles first learn how to identify them and what they eat.  Then eradicate them.  Four species of Carpet Beetles are most common:  The Black Carpet Beetle, Varied Carpet Beetle, Common Carpet Beetle, and Furniture Carpet Beetle. Together, this group of beetles is more destructive to fabric than Clothes Moths.

Differences Between Common Beetles and Carpet Beetles

Don’t confuse common beetles with Carpet Beetles. Hide Beetles, Museum Beetles, Bird Nest Carpet Beetles, and Cabinet Beetles all have a somewhat similar appearance. Both adults and larvae of other beetles may be mistaken for Carpet Beetles. Carefully read the descriptions in this article (and view the photographs), to be sure of proper identification. This is important when you attempt to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

The Carpet Beetle Metamorphosis

Carpet Beetles go through a complete metamorphosis: Egg, larva, pupa and adult – the same life cycle as a butterfly. The larva is the only stage that causes damage to fabrics. Homeowners rarely see the adult beetles, because the adults are small and inconspicuous. You can find adult beetles indoors or outdoors, where they feed on flowers and pollen. Adult beetles and are most numerous in the spring and early summer.  Flowering shrubs such as Spirea and Pyracantha are particularly attractive to adult Carpet Beetles, but Carpet Beetles also enjoy other species of flowering plants.

BLACK CARPET BEETLES

Black Carpet Beetle

Black Carpet Beetle

The Black Carpet Beetle is the most abundant and widespread of the Carpet Beetles. In the United States, this is the species that causes the greatest damage to fabrics, and other keratin containing materials. Adults are shiny black with brownish legs, and grow to a length of 1/8 to 3/16 inch.

They lay eggs either indoors or outdoors, beginning four to eight days after the adult emerges. Each female lays approximately 50 eggs over a period of about three weeks. After she lays the eggs, she dies. Indoors, the eggs are deposited in accumulations of lint, in air ducts, underneath baseboards, and other similar places. Eggs hatch in six to eleven days in warm weather. It is important to get rid of Black Carpet Beetles as fast as possible, and they are prolific breeders.

Identification of Black Carpet Beetle Larvae

Black Carpet Beetle larvae are quite tiny when they hatch, and have cigar-shaped bodies and long, brushy tail bristles. The tail bristles are easily seen when the larvae grow larger. Larvae may grow to 1/2-inch long over a series of five to eleven molts. The larvae vary in color from a light brown to almost black. Carpet Beetle larvae can develop under a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. They tend to avoid light, so you will most frequently find them in the lower parts of clothes closets, or wrapped in woolen materials.

Where to Look for Black Carpet Beetle Larvae

You will find larvae at the edge of carpeting, under baseboards, or inside upholstered furniture. Mature larvae can wander rather widely, so they may be found anywhere in a building. It is not at all unusual to find them in a bathtub, kitchen sink, or even crawling on walls and ceilings.

What Do Black Carpet Beetle Larvae Eat?

Black Carpet Beetle larvae feed on dead animal materials such as hair, fur, hides, and horns. They may also feed on many plant materials, such as cereals, stored grain or nuts. Black Carpet Beetles tend to feed on the surface of wool, and will usually eat the nap  from fabric. This will leave the base threads relatively unaffected. They can also eat large, irregular holes through any suitable food material. In fur, they cut hairs at the base with no injury to the hide. The hair on the fur drops out, leaving a bare appearance in the fur. Get rid of Carpet Beetles to protect your expensive furs from damage.

Black Carpet Beetle larvae frequently burrow through containers to obtain food, leaving small openings. Other insects may enter to cause additional damage. Cast skins and frass (fecal matter), in the form of tiny, irregular pellets, are often found on infested fabrics. Black Carpet Beetle larvae live from nine months to as long as three years, depending on their diet and environmental conditions. Larvae pupate in the last larval skin, with the pupal state lasting from six to twenty four days.

THE VARIED CARPET BEETLE

Adult Varied Carpet Beetle

Adult Varied Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetles are widely distributed in the United States. Adults are much smaller than the Black Carpet Beetle. Their body shape is more rounded when viewed from above, and they have a pattern of white, brown and yellow scales on the upper surface of their wing covers.

Varied Carpet Beetle Eggs

Varied Carpet Beetles lay their eggs in various locations, where they hatch in 17 to 18 days. Larvae molt seven or eight times, over about seven to eleven months. You will rarely see mature larvae more than 1/4-inch long. They are reddish-brown in color and have three pairs of hair tufts (black or brown) on the back end of their abdomen.

The hairs in these tufts are shaped like arrowheads. These hairs can be irritating to the skin, or if breathed into the nose or lungs. Larvae are rather wide in proportion to their length. They are also usually broader at the back than at the front. Larvae are quite active, frequently moving about rapidly. Since the larvae what causes the destruction (and can be irritating), it is important go get rid of the Carpet Beetle larvae quickly.

Larvae, Pupation and Molts

Carpet Beetle Larvae

Carpet Beetle larvae have an average of six molts over a period of 60 to 70 days. When the molting is complete, pupation occurs in the last larval skin. The pupal stage lasts for 12 to 15 days. Varied Carpet Beetles usually remain in the old larval skin for approximately 18 days before becoming active. Larvae of this beetle often attack carpets, but they also eat other woolens, furs, feathers, silk, museum specimens, and similar materials. Most museums actively practice prevention and control monitor, ward off and get rid of Carpet Beetles.

These beetle larvae are scavengers. Outdoors, they are common in the nests of birds and spiders, and on dead animal fur, feathers, and bone. Indoors they are found in insect collections, woolens, carpets, and other fabrics and furs. They may also feed on plant products such as rye meal, corn, red pepper, and other similar materials.

THE COMMON CARPET BEETLE

Adult Common Carpet Beetle
(Actual Size 1/4 inch – 8mm)

Common Carpet Beetle adults are small, rounded, gray to blackish in color, with a varied pattern of white and orange scales on the back. An orange-red band of scales runs down the middle of the back. Adult beetles feed on nectar and pollen in flowers. Each female deposits 30 to 40 small, white eggs, which hatch in 10 to 20 days.

Carpet Beetle Larvae

Larvae are rather active, and frequently move about rapidly. Their body is an elongated oval shape, and rarely more than 1/4-inch long. They are reddish-brown and covered with numerous black or brown hairs. Common Carpet Beetles undergo six molts over a period of 60 to 70 days. Pupation occurs in the last larval skin. The pupal stage lasts for 12 to 15 days, but the beetle typically remains in the old larval skin for approximately 18 days before becoming active. Larvae of this beetle often attack carpets, but also eat other woolens, furs, feathers, silk, museum specimens, and similar materials.

THE FURNITURE CARPET BEETLE

Adult Furniture Carpet Beetle
(Actual Size 1/8 inch – 5mm)

Furniture Carpet Beetles often attack upholstered furniture. Adults are small, rounded and blackish. They display a mottling of yellow and white scales on the back, and a heavy coating of yellow scales on the legs. On adults, the color pattern varies considerably. In some specimens, the yellow scales are darker and more numerous, while in others the white scales are more numerous.

Females lay a total of 35 to 100 eggs in one to three batches. The eggs hatch at room temperature in approximately three weeks. Larvae develop through six to twelve molts over a period of three to six months. They are oval-shaped, somewhat elongated, and thickly covered with brownish hairs. Pupa are white, and develop in the last larval skin. The pupal stage lasts from 14 to 19 days, at room temperature. Adult remain in the pupal skin for one to ten weeks before becoming active.

Where to Inspect for Furniture Carpet Beetles

You can frequently find Furniture Carpet Beetles on furniture where they feed on hair, padding, feathers, and woolen upholstering. They commonly feed on other woolens, carpets, fur, bristles, horns, silk, and other such materials. When stained with animal body oils or other body soilage, they will also feed on such fibers as linen, cotton, rayon, and jute.

THE ODD BEETLE

Adult Odd Beetle

Odd Beetle adult females do not look like a beetle. The body is broader and more stout than the male’s, and they don’t have wings. Antennae are thin and about twice as long as the head is wide. There is a median ocellus between the rather small compound eyes. Odd Beetle larvae are similar in appearance to those of the other Carpet Beetles; however they do not have long hairs at the tip of the abdomen, nor on the upper surface of the body.

The larvae do have hair in the form of a row of coarse, stout bristles across the top rear edge of each body segment. There are also club-shaped hairs on the rear edge of the thorax. The larvae tend to roll up in a ball when disturbed. This characteristic will aid with identification. These insects attack dry animal matter, and will feed readily on woolen cloth, and even silk.

Imported From Asia

The Odd Beetle is an introduced species, from Asia. Adult females are wingless, so dispersal of the species depends primarily upon its being carried from place to place. This insect has been found in situations that seem to be remote from its normal food. Control methods for the Odd Beetle are similar to those used for Carpet Beetles.

THE HIDE BEETLE

Adult Hide Beetle

Several species of Hide Beetles are considered fabric pests, since they are often found in tanneries and warehouses that process hides and skin. They are also found in homes attacking furs, animal skins, feathers, and meats or cheeses. Three of the most destructive Hide Beetles are: The Larder Beetle, the Black Larder Beetle, and the Leather Beetle. These beetles occasionally invade homes, and infest products of an animal base. Outdoors, they also feed in bird’s nests, and attack dead bird or mouse carcasses in attics. They also eat dead bees and wax in beehives, and feed on stuffed animals and insect collections in museums.

Eggs, Larvae, Molts, and Pupation

The female beetle must feed before laying eggs. Eggs are about 1/12 inch in length, and are laid in foodstuffs such as hides and other dry animal matter. Females continue to lay eggs for two to three months. The total number of eggs laid varies from 200 to 800. Larvae begin to feed soon after hatching. They are active in dark areas, but in the light they may become immobile. The larvae normally go through five or six molts. Fully-grown larvae measure about 1/2 inch in length. The larva wanders when it matures, seeking a pupation site. It may burrow into such materials as wood, or other soft substrates before pupating. The final larval skin is used as a plug, protecting the pupa from predaceous insects. If the larva is unable to bore a tunnel, the skin remains attached to the pupa.

INSPECTING FOR CARPET BEETLES

In your home, frequently check pet foods, mounted animal specimens, insect collections, skins, furs, woolens, seeds, organic fertilizers (e.g., bone meals), and other items likely to be infested. You also need to know if there are bird nests under eaves or in the attic. Check for wasp or hornet nests outside the residence. Knowing where they may be lurking will help you in your quest to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

Inspection Tips

Conduct a thorough inspection of your infested premises to find all the sources of infestation, before making any attempt at control. It is important to remember that adults of these insects do not feed on woolens, or on any of the other material that may be attacked by the larvae. The presence of adults in an area does not necessarily mean that larvae are in the same area. Adults may have already laid their eggs in some other room, and may be moving around at random. The adults may also be moving towards bright sunlight shining through windows (as adults, they will want to move outdoors).

Where to Look for Carpet Beetle and Clothes Moth Larvae

Clothes Moth and Carpet Beetle larvae prefer to feed in secluded and protected places. To search for them, a good flashlight and a knife, nail file, or small spatula are essential tools. Larvae are usually found in dark clothes closets, on furs, woolens, hair padding, bits of carpeting, or other such materials in storage. Check under the edges of carpeting, and in and under upholstered furniture. Finding their habitat will identify where you should focus your treatments to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

You may occasionally find larvae in cereals in the kitchen or pantry. Use your knife blade or other tool to bring out bits of lint or shed pet hair from under baseboards, in air ducts, and around door casings. Examine the lint or hair closely for live larvae or their cast skins. Often, you will find more cast skins than live larvae. The cast skins resemble live larvae so closely, they can be used for identification purposes. Use a flashlight when examining dark closets and other dimly lit places.

Outdoor Natural Habitats

Inspect the natural habitats of possible infestation surrounding your home. This is very important! Carpet Beetles can be found in sparrow, starling, or other bird nests close to your building, and are common points of origin (or continuation) for fabric pest infestations. Clothes Moth and Carpet Battle infestations can also originate in wasp nests, which are found under eaves and in attics. Moth or beetle larvae feed upon the remainders of dead insects fed to the wasp larvae, on cast wasp larval skins, and sometimes upon the living wasp larvae.

SANITATION AND PREVENTION

Implement preventive measures whenever possible! Once a “hole” is made, the damage is done and may not be repairable. Preventive procedures include basic sanitation and insecticide measures. Protect your carpets, woolens, silks, and upholstery by mothproofing garments or fabrics. You can do a lot to prevent fabric pest problems by keeping your surroundings clean. Use a strong vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean carpet and upholstery.

Brush, air, and dry clean susceptible clothing or other articles. Avoid prolonged storage of old garments and bedding. Take furs or animal pelts (unprotected taxidermy) to a dry cleaner, who can provide chemical protection to them. Inspect old wool rugs, and furniture upholstered with vulnerable fabrics.

Eliminate Breeding Areas

Remember, you do not necessarily have to possess wholly keratin-based products to have a Carpet Beetle infestation. Soiled articles of otherwise indigestible materials are prone to attack, as well as garments made of wool blend fabrics. It is important to eliminate as many potential breeding places as possible. Discard old pieces of woolen fabric, odd pieces of carpeting, old feather pillows, dried flower arrangements or “shadow boxes” (with caches of seeds in them). Eliminating these objects go a long ways toward getting rid of Carpet Beetles.

Clean areas under baseboards, behind door casings, under heat radiators, and inside furnace or air conditioning registers with a vacuum cleaner. Remove as much lint as possible from these areas. A vacuum cleaner with strong suction is a good piece of special equipment to use! Utilize careful, routine sanitation procedures. This will help limit fabric insect problems.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS FOR PREVENTION

Utilize professional pest control chemicals in addition to good sanitation. We recommended Insect Guard for prevention, in storage situations. It acts as a repellent and continuous fumigant. Place interspaced crystals of this material, which have been wrapped in clean paper, with the fabrics. Pack all into tightly into large plastic bags, and then into sealed trunks or boxes. Use tight containers  for optimum protection. Cedar closets and most cedar chests are ineffective, primarily because a sufficiently tight seal is rarely maintained. Naphthalene (moth balls), are less desirable to use, and are also less effective. Garment storage in cold vaults is an effective preventive measure, especially for very valuable furs or other susceptible garments.

MOTH PROOFING

Direct Fabric Protection

Mothproofing and Clothes Moth control are two different things. You can mothproof by using preventive applications of an insecticide to avoid infestation, or use a professional dry cleaning company to mothproof your susceptible belongings. If you already have an infestation, you will have to use extermination procedures to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

Use various moth proofers to protect your property from moth and Carpet Beetle damage. These chemicals kill larvae, either after light feeding or brief contact (before feeding occurs). Many newer fabrics are treated with a mothproofing solution at the time of manufacture. The chemicals eventually dissipate either by washing, dry cleaning, or by simple degradation. You should never attempt to mothproof articles of clothing. Take vulnerable articles of clothing to a professional dry cleaning company to be treated. Professional mothproofing of clothing is usually quite effective over the length of time between cleanings, or for storage during the summer months.

Recommended Products for Moth Proofing

Use CB 80 and Insect Guard for general mothproofing to articles other than clothing (carpets, area rugs, tapestries, drapes, etc.). Apply to the items after they have been removed and dry cleaned (if possible). Spray with a fine mist to obtain thorough coverage, but only after possible staining problems have been considered. Be sure to test your articles to assure that staining won’t occur. These chemicals won’t get rid of Carpet Beetles if you have an infestation, but they will help protect from damage.

CONTROLLING EXISTING CARPET BEETLE INFESTATIONS

If you have an infestation, utilize an extensive program of insecticide applications to get rid of Carpet Beetles. Insecticide should be applied after thorough cleaning and sanitation. To get rid of Carpet Beetles, apply insecticides such Precor 2625, Ultracide, Demand CS, or Bifen I/T.  Use residual sprays with a hand sprayer, using a fine fan-spray nozzle. Utilize handheld foggers such as CB80 for spot treatment, or more general applications, as necessary. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

How to Treat Areas of Heavy Infestation

Pay special attention to the areas of heavy infestation that you found during your inspection. On carpets, concentrate around baseboard areas and under furniture. On furniture, concentrate around seams, buttons, and padded areas. Apply insecticide as a rather fine wet spray, directly to the material being treated. To get rid of carpet beetles, spray upholstery fabrics using a light, fast hand. Do not soak the fabric, because this will frequently result in staining (not caused by the pesticide, but rather by the water).

Treating Carpets

Be careful to prevent staining or soiling when treating your carpets. Clean carpet before insecticide treatment, if possible. Be very careful not to soil the treated carpet with dirt from shoes or other sources. Do not walk on treated areas until after they have thoroughly dried. Remove all furniture from a room which will be treated, if space, size and weight allow. Place temporary pads under furniture castors or legs when treating carpet, to protect carpet from stains. Pads prevent rust marks on your carpet from metal furniture parts, and stains from wood parts of furniture. Both types of stain are almost impossible to remove, and can result in costly damage. Good temporary pads can be: Corrugated cardboard, cut into strips or squares, folded paper towels, or small paper plates. Do not remove the pads until the carpet is thoroughly dry, usually after two or three days.

Insecticide Cautions and Upholstered Furniture Instructions

Regardless of the insecticide being used, be sure to keep small children and pets away from treated furniture and carpeting until they are thoroughly dry. These chemicals may be hazardous while they are wet. Check the insecticide product label for any other caution statements. The residual chemicals will be removed to some extent by subsequent washing, vacuuming, and dry cleaning. Read the insecticide manufacturer’s recommendations about length of control and re-treatment intervals to get rid of Carpet Beetles.

Remove furniture cushion covers and the coverings from the bottom of sofas or chairs to expose the padding. Pay special attention to the padding inside upholstered furniture. It may be composed of feathers or horsehair (especially in antique furniture), and is susceptible to insect damage. Exposed padding can then be treated with sprays, which will not harm the padding. Padding can also be thoroughly treated with a suitable aerosol such as Ultracide with IGR.

Aerosol Sprays, Residual Pesticides and Carpet Beetle Traps

Use aerosol applications if you do not want to wait on drying time. To get rid of Carpet Beetles, aerosols with an IGR usually give long residual control. Do not use these products where there will be contact with skin or clothing. Do not use on exposed upholstery surfaces or carpeted areas on which people or pets will sit. Use non-residual or contact spray applications such as Precor 2625 Premise Spray and Bifen I/T when infestations are not heavy. They kill both exposed adults and larvae. Spray into cracks and crevices with as much force as possible, to drive the spray in deeply.

To get rid of Carpet Beetles, an aerosol spray such as CB 80 is effective in closets. Be careful to avoid staining of clothes, walls, or furniture. Use traps, such as the Catchmaster 288i Professional Bug Traps, under and behind furniture. Also use traps inside stored rugs to capture Carpet Beetles, and to help monitor their infestation levels.

THE DUAL APPROACH TO CARPET BEETLE INFESTATION

To get rid of Carpet Beetles, many professional pest companies prefer to apply a residual insecticide such Precor 2625 or Demand CS to all of the appropriate areas, and then follow up with an aerosol application of a non-residual insecticide such as CB 80. Doing this assures complete control of adult and larval stages. When your infestation and damage is widespread and extensive, dual application is the preferred method. Also use this approach when many active adults have been seen throughout the premises, and during egg-laying seasons.

Use Professional Quality Carpet Beetle Control Products.
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