Carpet beetles are insects that are very common in dwellings and as their name implies they infest carpets. Very similar to clothes moths, these pests also feed on clothes such as wool, silk, fur, feathers, and leathers; all these materials contain a substance known as keratin, a fibrous insect protein that the carpet beetle larvae can easily digest and grow. Infestations of carpets beetles can develop without been detected and causes harm and damage to vulnerable and expensive items.
Quick Facts About Carpet Beetle
• Carpet beetles are similar to bedbugs and clothes moth hence they are usually mistaken for the same.
• Adult carpet beetles do not damage fabrics since they feed on flower pollen while the carpet beetle larvae are the main pest that feeds on animal-based fabrics and causes damage.
• The Female carpet beetles can lay from 50 to 100 eggs that hatch in a few weeks and thrive in closets or under your carpet.
Carpet Beetle vs Bed Bugs
If you suddenly feel an itching or burning sensation with red bumps on your skin, it could be either a bed bug or carpet beetle. Bed bugs, unlike the carpet bugs, feed on your blood while you sleep.
Many people tend to confuse the Carpet Beetle and Bed Bugs since they seem to be similar in appearance and their size. Just like the Carpet Beetle, bed bugs are flat and tiny and instantly distinguishing them could be a challenge.
How To Tell The Difference Between Carpet Beetle And Bed Bugs?
Apart from being similar in size, the carpet beetle and bed bugs do have many differences and it is fairly easy to tell them apart if you look closely at them and observe their behavior.
What Do Carpet Beetles Look Like?
Carpet beetles look more like ladybugs with a similarity in body shape but have different colors and patterns. Ladybugs are red with black spots whereas Carpet beetles are light brown in color with dark black/brown spots. There are different types of carpet beetles. The light brown color is the varied type while the black carpet beetle has a longer body and is completely black with a shiny shell.
A carpet beetle’s head and torso are not as visible as a bed bug’s. Its torso and head are round and protected by a shell. Whereas a bedbug has a medium-sized torso that sticks out from the rest of their body and they have no shell like the carpet beetle.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are small brown bugs that usually live in your mattresses, closest, and bedding. They have varied colors such as an almost see-through brown and dark brown color with slight hints of red. When they feed, they tend to plump up and look very dark. Their size is close to that of an apple seed.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Bed bug is the pattern along their back. They have six legs, and two small antennae that stick out from their head. Their abdomen is long and flat and they do not have a shell-like the carpet beetles to protect their body.
The Difference In Their Behavior And Needs
Carpet Bug and Bedbugs not only look different from each other but also behave in different ways. They feed on different things, live in different spots of your home, and are attracted to different things.
Adult carpet beetles do not feed on the carpet and other fabrics and are mostly found outside where they feed on flower pollens. The carpet larvae, however, can be found in a number of spots at your home:
• Wardrobes, where they can feed on clothes and fabrics
• The base of Sofas and Bed
• Discarded clothes and below the carpet.
Bed Bugs, on the other hand, are found underneath your mattress, especially near and around the edges.
Carpet Beetles Diet vs Bed Bug Diet
Like mentioned above, only Carpet beetle larvae tend to feed on various fabrics and carpet while the adult-only feeds on flower pollen. The Bed Bug, on the other hand, is an infesting pest that feeds on your blood. Although bedbug bites do not cause any health hazards, they tend to cause inflamed spots that itch terribly.
Environments That Carpet Beetle Prefer
Adult female Carpet Beetles lay about 50 to 100 eggs. Their larvae need nutrients from fabrics that contain fibrous animal protein, hence they lay the eggs near vulnerable areas and materials. Breeding sites are usually obvious such as wool rugs and old clothes stored in closets while other breeding sites could be more subtle such as baseboards, air vents, and ducts.
Apart from carpets, other commonly attacked items include sweaters, coats, blankets, rugs, scarves, toys, upholstery, decorative items, and taxidermy mounts. Carpet beetle larvae usually thrive in places such as edges and undersides of carpets and rugs, fabric folds, closets, chest, and boxes where items are stored and forgotten for longer periods.
Other places where these pests can thrive are:
• Lint, hair, and debris accumulating under baseboards and vents
• Animal Carcasses and dead insects
• Bird nests
• Light Fixtures
In addition, unlike clothes moth, some varieties of carpet beetles also infest cereal, seeds, pet foods, and other plant-based food materials.
Do Carpet Beetles Bite?
Adult Carpet beetle and carpet beetle larvae do not bite. However, they can be a cause of skin blisters, rashes, red spots, and terrible itches. This is due to an allergic reaction when your skin is exposed to the hairs and bristles on the abdomen of carpet beetle larvae.
These allergies and reactions do not cause any health hazards however; they could itch and cause skin blisters and an allergy known as ‘Carpet Beetle Dermatitis’, which might need medical attention.
Managing Carpet Beetle Infestations
Preventing the infestation
Carpet beetles tend to multiply rapidly and cause excessive damage to carpets and fabrics throughout your house. Preventing the infestation is the key to containing the problem or the infestation might get out of hand.
Here Are 7 Ways To Prevent Carpet Beetle Infestations
• Vacuum Carpets regularly:
This will remove lint, hair particles, and dead insects making it inhospitable for the Carpet bugs to survive.
• Keep Storage and Cabinets clean:
Regularly clean and vacuum floors, walls, cabinets, storage shelves to remove dust and dead insects.
• Dry Clean and Laundry:
Woolen and other susceptible items that are used seasonally should be dry-cleaned and laundered before being stored for long periods in your cabinets. This kills any eggs or larvae and removes perspiration odors that may attract the insects.
• Clean and disinfect your trashcans:
Clean and wipe the insides of your trashcans every time you take out your trash. Use disinfection sprays if you noticed any bugs in your home.
• Seal Cracks, Crevices and, other venerable spots:
The best way to prevent carpet beetle infestations in your home is to seal cracks and crevices in your home including, furniture, kitchen shelves, cabinets, attics, etc.
• Store fabrics in tight-fitting plastic bags or containers:
Using plastic bags will reduce the chance of carpet beetle infestations.
• Use Naphthalene ball, mothballs, or anti infestation flakes or crystals:
These are great carpet beetle repellents. You can place these at the corners of your wardrobe, cabinets, storage, etc. However, read the instructions and use as directed. These are volatile and hazardous if used incorrectly.
Controlling And Removing Carpet Beetle Infestations
If for some reason the infestation has already taken place, try the following steps to eradicate the infestation.
• Inspect the infested areas:
This requires time and efforts. Check for molted skins of the larvae in secluded places, wardrobes, under your carpet, etc. Primary sources usually are closets, wardrobes, rugs, and carpets in the basement, etc.
Carpet beetles prefer dark places where items are stored for long periods. Inspect clothes and pay attention to seams, folds, and cuffs/collars. Infestations can also stem from bird nests, small animal carcasses such as rodents, and dead insects.
Also, check plant-based food materials such as cereals, pet food, bird feed, etc. that is stored in kitchen cabinets or basements.
• Immediately dispose of heavily infested items:
This is the best approach if you can part ways with the items. If it is expensive then you might need to get it washed, dry cleaned or disinfected accordingly.
• Clean Infested areas and belongings:
Regularly clean and wash your clothing, rugs, fabrics, carpets in hot water. If your carpet is expensive, then vacuum and steam it at least twice a year. Inspect your pet’s bedding and wash with hot water to kill any carpet beetle infestation.
• Use Insect sprays for your carpet and furniture:
This is the last resort when the carpet beetle infestation gets out of hand and would need a more aggressive approach. There are many different types of carpet treatment and disinfectant products in the market.
You have to make sure that the insecticide spray should target and kill carpet beetles specifically. Check the labels since these products usually contain benthiocarb, allethrin, and, chlorpyrifos.