If you’ve noticed any smalls bugs that look like a less colorful variety of ladybugs crawling around the house, then prepare for some bad news. You may have an infestation of carpet beetles. Unpleasant though they are, these little critters are by no means rare and can be found in scores of residential homes across the country. But just because they’re common doesn’t make them popular – left to their own devices, they can cause a heap of damage to your furniture, your rugs, and your clothes. But how exactly do they get into your home in the first place? And how do you get rid of them once they do?
What Are Carpet Beetles?
As Country Living notes, carpet battles are small insects that are commonly found in residential homes and that can become pests if left unchecked. They love feasting on natural fibers like wool, silk, leather, and pet hair when they’re young, and pollen, plants, and flowers when they’re older. Carpet beetle eggs are white or cream and measure around 1mm in length. Larvae are light brown or black and covered entirely in dark hair, apart from on their abdomens, which have three golden hairs instead. They measure around 2.5cm in length. As adults, carpet beetles typically measure around 4mm long. They have oval-shaped bodies with a striped black, white, and yellow or orange casing. Although adult carpet beetles don’t bite and are generally considered harmless to humans, their larvae can cause significant damage to rugs, fabrics, carpets, and other items made from natural animal fibers.
What Causes Carpet Beetles in Your Home?
As adult carpet beetles feed on pollen and nectar, they tend to favor outdoor over indoor living. However, if they manage to get into your home through a crack, an open window, or by hitching a ride on a plant, they might decide that your wool carpet looks like a good place to lay some eggs. As their larvae feed on animal fibers, that’s when the trouble starts. According to termitesblog.com, some of the most common causes of carpet beetles in your home include:
The more plants, trees, and flowering blooms that are part of your yard’s landscaping, the higher the probability that carpet beetles will infest its interior. If any of your windows, doors, or walls have a crack, you can expect beetles to see it as an open invitation.
Carpet beetles might be outdoor dwellers by nature, but they love the warmth. Once the temperatures start to fall, your nice, warm house may become too irresistible for them to resist. If they find plenty of dark spots to hide in curtains and carpets once they get inside, so much the better.
Carpet beetles are good parents. Before they lay their eggs, they want to make sure their offspring will have plenty of food to help them grow up into big, strong carpet beetles. Fortunately for them (although less fortunately for you), your home has a bunch of things in it that could prove a tasty snack for larvae, including food cupboards stocked with spices, potatoes, grain, cereals, and cornmeal, and closets filled with silk, wool, and velvet.
As much as carpet beetles love human food, they love dried pet food even more. If you free-feed your cats or dogs with kibble, don’t be too surprised if a group of carpet beetles decides to take up residence in the dish.
Furniture and Furnishings
Carpet beetles love munching on natural fibers. If you have a carpet made of a non-synthetic fabric like wool or silk, carpet beetles will see it as a nice, cozy home. Carpet beetles also find window curtains irresistible for hiding out and laying their eggs. Any furniture made from natural fibers could also become a convenient home.
If your children’s rooms are packed with wool toys, they’ll serve as a magnet to hungry carpet beetles, especially if those toys are scattered around an equally tasty wool carpet.
Are Carpet Beetles Dangerous?
Carpet beetles don’t bite and they aren’t going to do you or anyone else living in your home any direct damage. They might, however, cause a heap of damage to your home itself. If you have any furniture made of wood or other natural materials, holes might start appearing as carpet beetles eat and dig their way through. Clothing, curtains, cushions, and similar items made from wool, silk, linen, cotton, leather, and other natural fibers can quickly turn to shreds, as can carpets, upholstered furniture, and rugs. Sometimes, carpet beetles can pose a health hazard if their feces and saliva contaminate stored food with bacteria. Although it’s rare, that bacteria could end up causing respiratory tract infections, allergic reactions, and carpet beetle dermatitis if it enters your body.
How to Spot a Carpet Beetle Infestation
Carpet beetles are small and prefer dark corners to hideout in. Spotting them can therefore be tricky, but there are some telltale signs to watch out for. According to Fantastic Pest Control, some of the main signs of a carpet beetle infestation include:
- Holes in leather furniture.
- Shredded larvae skins.
- Damaged book covers, photos, and paperwork.
- Very small, dry, black or brown fecal pellets.
- Damage to clothing made from natural fibers (this can be distinguished from moth damage as it will be confined to one area – moth damage will usually be spread across a wider area).
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
As takecaretermite.com says, getting rid of carpet beetles can be tricky. Their tiny size and preference for dark hiding places make them hard to spot. However, if you suspect you have a carpet beetle infestation, there are several effective ways you can tackle the problem. These include:
- Vacuum frequently to remove any pet hair, dander, and lint, all of which can attract carpet beetles.
- Clean your chimney annually to stop it from becoming a breeding ground for carpet beetles.
- Wash every item of clothing in your closet. Dry cleaning is preferable, as this will ensure that any eggs are also destroyed.
- Have any curtains, throws, pillows, and rugs made from natural fibers professionally cleaned.
If all else fails, call in a home pest control service. Although the initial outlay may be daunting, it could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run if you’re forced to replace all of the clothing, furniture, and furnishings damaged by the infestation.