Carpet beetles eat more than carpets

At first you may think you have moths in the house. But if you find damaged clothing, carpet, upholstery, and other items, they are most likely carpet beetles. These little pests are more common than most homeowners realize. They can be very destructive, and to make matters worse, they are quite difficult to control. You may find one or two beetles or the evidence they leave behind, but the problem can worsen if not addressed properly and quickly.

In addition to feasting on your belongings, these beetle larvae also shed tiny hairs that can cause allergies. Infection with these pests has been linked to the spread of infectious diseases such as Anthrax.

Part of the problem with controlling carpet beetles is that they live in many areas of a home and eat more than carpet. They consume anything that contains organic fiber and organic products. Here’s a sampling of the favorite carpet beetle buffet:

Household items

  • Carpets – Most synthetic carpets contain organic materials
  • Carpets
  • Curtain
  • Furniture
  • Clothing – especially cotton, silk and wool
  • Household linen – tablecloths, tea towels, sheets, towels

In the utility room

  • Cereals
  • Maize
  • Flour
  • Cereals
  • Nuts
  • Pasta
  • Seeds
  • Birdseed
  • Pet food

Miscellaneous

  • Hair (pet or human)
  • Animal fur
  • Animal skins
  • Stuffed animals
  • Cadavers of dead animals

There are three types of carpet beetles that are the most common problem for homeowners. These are the varied carpet beetle, the black carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle. Larvae are by far the most harmful phase of their life cycle. Females lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs near food sources. An adult beetle can live to be four years old and lay eggs once a year. Eggs are incredibly resilient. Once the eggs develop into cocoons and larvae, they remain at this stage for nearly a year. The larvae are the most destructive phase. Both eggs and larvae are very difficult to detect, as they tend to blend in with the substance they inhabit. Once they reach maturity, carpet beetles are scavengers and can be found in areas far from food sources.

You may find one or two larvae crawling on surfaces. However, the first sign of carpet beetle infestation is usually irregular holes chewed into fabrics. They feed on the nap of fabrics and carpeting without eating the base threads. If you find holes in fabrics around your home and think the damage is due to carpet beetles, look for fecal pellets and skins shed by the larva. They usually feed in dark secluded places, so do a thorough inspection for them in these areas:

  • Undersides of furniture
  • In areas around or behind furniture where pet hair can accumulate
  • Corners and bottoms of drawers
  • Along skirting boards where carpet and shapes come together
  • Under area rugs and carpets
  • Indoor closets – especially in corners
  • In cellars and attics
  • Between walls and insulation
  • In and under storage boxes
  • On window and door frames
  • Shelving in cracks next to and above and below
  • Outside your home where there may be dead rodents or birds