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What Causes Carpet Beetles?


This is a close look at a carpet beetle.

Carpet beetles are tiny insects that can do extensive damage. As the name suggests, they can live in, and even feed on, carpet. Their diet is much more expansive though. They are known to eat clothing, furs, and other items in your home.

A carpet beetle infestation can quickly turn into a nightmare. If you want to get rid of them, it’s important to understand what causes carpet beetles. If you haven’t had the displeasure of dealing with carpet beetles, this information can help keep them out of your home.

Related: How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles | Types of Beetles | Carpet Beetle vs. Bed Bug

Signs of a Carpet Beetle Infestation 

This is a close look at a carpet beetle on an old sponge.

Carpet beetles are stealthy. They can hide in your carpet, furniture, and clothing. You may not see the carpet beetles themselves, but you will see signs of their presence.

An adult carpet beetle can lay 100 carpet beetle eggs at a time. They are also flying insects, so they can easily move from one area to another.

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Carpet beetle larvae are what do the damage around your home. Adult carpet beetles eat flower pollen, so they won’t damage your carpet. Carpet beetle larvae are the problem. They are only 2mm long, so they are very difficult to spot, but the holes eaten in your carpet are easy to spot.

Signs of a carpet beetle infestation include:

  • Damage to fabric
  • Fecal pellets and shed skins
  • Live or dead adult beetle

Damage to Fabric

Carpet beetles eat animal products. This includes wool, silk, and leather fabric. They will also eat synthetic fabrics, including carpet, if they are stained or contain food remnants. You’ll find holes in your carpet and upholstered furniture from carpet beetle larva.

Fecal Pellets and Shed Skins

It’s the last thing you want to think about, but carpet beetle larvae do poop. Fecal pellets are about the size of a grain of sand. They also shed their skin as they grow, leaving behind brown skin carcasses.

These signs are small. Depending on how you look at it, you’ll be lucky or unlucky enough to notice them because there will be piles of them near the infestation.

Alive or Dead Adult Carpet Beetles

An adult carpet beetle is about 4mm. Adults have an instinct to go outside, because that is where they feed. You’ll likely notice the insects around your window sills as they attempt to escape your home.

What Causes Carpet Beetles 

This is a close look at a small carpet beetle larva.

The cause of carpet beetles often comes down to poor housekeeping.

Causes of carpet beetles include:

  • Food and food remnants
  • Lint, Dust, and Hair
  • Animal-based products (leather, fur, wool)

Food and food remnants

Food and food remnants are the most common cause of carpet beetles. The carpet beetle larva feed on food remnants left on carpet or upholstery.

Synthetic fibers aren’t a food source for them. However, if there are food remnants or oil stains on the fabric, they will eat it. This then results in bare spots or holes in your carpet or furniture upholstery.

Lint, Dust, and Hair

Lint, dust, and hair also attract carpet beetles. Hair is a favorite food for larva, because they feed on keratin. This includes animal hair and human hair. You’ll need to sweep and vacuum regularly in your battle to prevent or rid yourself of carpet beetles.

Animal Based Products

A carpet beetle infestation is sometimes mistaken for a clothes moth, because they both eat holes in your favorite clothing. The common carpet beetle loves natural fiber fabrics. This includes silk, leather, and fur.

If you have these items, store them in an airtight container to avoid attracting carpet beetles. This also prevents them from ruining expensive items.

How They Get In 

This is a close look at a carpet beetle on a flower petal.

One of the most common questions someone who has a carpet beetle problem asks is how they found their way into the home in the first place. Food remnants and animal products may entice an adult carpet beetle to lay eggs, but they have to find their way inside first.

Carpet beetles can fly in through cracks, open doors, or windows. In other cases, they are brought in from outside inadvertently.

Animals are a common culprit. If you have a cat or dog that spends time outside, they can bring carpet beetles in on their hair.

Decorative items like flowers and feathers can also harbor carpet beetles. Flowers are the food source for adult carpet beetles, and carpet beetle larva can feed on feathers.

What Causes Carpet Beetles FAQs

Are carpet mites the same as carpet beetles?

Carpet mites usually refer to dust mites, which are a different type of insect than carpet beetles.

What do carpet beetles look like? 

Adult carpet beetles are brown or black. They are 1/16-1/8 inches. They have six legs and two antennae. The larvae are bigger at 1/8-1/4 inches. They are brown with a hairy body.

Should I worry about carpet beetles?

The good news is they don’t pose a significant health risk. The bad news is they do pose a risk to your home and possessions.

Yes, you should worry about them and put in the work to get rid of carpet beetles, so they don’t ruin your upholstered furniture, carpet, and clothing. However, your home is safe to live in while you battle them.

How do you control carpet beetles? 

The easiest way to control carpet beetles is regular cleaning. Store natural fiber and animal products in an airtight container, particularly if they are in your closet.

Remove the items from closets and clean them thoroughly. Pay attention to baseboards when you sweep and vacuum. Keep food put away and wash any stains on your carpet or furniture.

Vacuum. Vacuum. Oh, did I mention vacuum? This is the best way to control carpet beetles, because it will remove adult beetles, larva, and carpet beetle eggs.

Do carpet beetles infest beds? 

If your bed or mattress contains food sources, carpet beetles can get into your mattress or bedspread. However, they don’t live in your mattress like a bed bug. It isn’t home to them, just a kitchen.

This fact may not be comforting, but it does make it easier to get carpet beetles out of your bed.

What kills carpet beetles?

Boric acid is the best way to kill this pest. Vacuum the floor thoroughly, and then apply boric acid. It will kill the beetles. After you vacuum up any dead insects, you can reapply the boric acid in case more beetles appear.

It’s safe for humans to come into contact with, although prolonged contact can cause mild skin irritation. If you have small children or pets, consider staying off the carpet for a few hours and then vacuuming up the powder to prevent any irritation.

What are the different carpet beetle species?

Species of carpet beetle include the black carpet beetle, the common carpet beetle, the varied carpet beetle, and the furniture carpet beetle.

The species of carpet beetle make little difference in the damage they can cause or how to get rid of them.

Do carpet beetles bite?

Carpet beetles do not bite. However, when in the larva stage, the long hairs can feel like a bite if you come into contact with them.

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