How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
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Written by Heather Ross

Updated: September 30, 2022

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Have you ever seen a carpet beetle? There’s a good chance your answer is yes. These insects can take up residence in a home eating through clothing items, curtains, fabric on furniture, and, of course, carpet. These little critters can cause a surprising amount of damage.

Read on to discover how to get rid of carpet beetles in a pet-safe way. Also, learn the telltale signs of a carpet beetle infestation along with other facts about this hungry insect.

What Are Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetles are oval-shaped insects that are from one to four millimeters in size. The body of an adult carpet beetle is a combination of black, yellow, white, and sometimes orange. These insects have six legs and two black antennae. The identification of this insect also involves two small wings.

The appearance of carpet beetle larvae is different from adult insects. Larvae are light or dark brown with long bristles on their bodies. When tackling the identification of carpet beetle larvae, you’ll see it’s similar in shape to a caterpillar. They are four to eight millimeters in size.

carpet beetle
To protect one’s clothing from carpet beetles one should store clothes in an airtight container. It is always easier to take the right precautions and not have to get rid of carpet beetles later on.

What Do Carpet Beetles Eat?

The diet of an adult carpet beetle is different from its larvae. Adult carpet beetles survive on a diet of plants, seeds, nectar, and weeds. Alternatively, the larva of this insect lives on a diet of materials such as wool, silk, fur, felt, carpet, and leather.

Where Are Carpet Beetles Found?

Carpet beetles can live outdoors and inside a home or other structure. A carpet beetle living outdoors can live in a garden or backyard habitat. These insects can live in wooded areas or on the grassy plains. They choose a habitat with a large supply of food.

Carpet beetle larvae and adult insects can live indoors as well. One of the most interesting facts about this bug is it prefers places with very little or no light. Attics, closets, pantries, cabinets, clothing trunks, and air vents are the ideal indoor habitats for this insect.

How Do Carpet Beetles Get Inside a Home?

Not surprisingly, there are lots of ways this insect can gain entry into a home. A hole in a window screen can serve as an entrance for adult carpet beetles. A homeowner who sees carpet beetles flying around a window or curtains should check the condition of the screens.

Another way these insects get indoors is by hanging onto cut flowers from a garden or yard. These small bugs can easily hide in a gathering of flowers without being noticed.

Carpet beetles can crawl down a chimney to gain entry to a home. Or, they may hide in a box of books or clothing brought into a home from a garage.

What Are Signs of a Carpet Beetle Infestation?

This insect gets its name from one of its favorite foods. Carpet! Remember, it’s the carpet beetle larvae (and not adults) that eat carpet, wool, silk, and other material used to make clothing, chairs, sofas, curtains, etc.

The signs of a carpet beetle larvae infestation include tiny holes in clothing, bare spots on the surface of rugs, and even holes the size of a pinpoint in the pages of books.

Other signs of a carpet beetle infestation include shed skins or the bodies of dead insects. The shed skin of this insect is light brown or black.

Do Carpet Beetles and Moths Damage the Same Items?

Yes. Carpet beetles and clothing moths eat many of the same items. This can make pest identification a little challenging.

The most effective way to determine whether there’s a clothing moth infestation or a carpet beetle infestation is to look for the presence of dead insects or shed skin.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles?

If you have an infestation of carpet beetles in your home, you may be concerned about using chemicals to get rid of them. You probably prefer a solution that’s safe for people as well as pet-safe. Fortunately, you can get rid of these pests naturally and without the use of pesticides.

What is more natural than white vinegar? Mix two cups of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with sixteen ounces of water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on furniture, carpeting, and near the baseboards all around the room. Allow the mixture to remain on the carpeting for 12 hours. After it’s dry, vacuum the furniture and carpeting to get rid of the dead insects. If you’re worried about this mixture staining your carpet, spray a small amount in a corner of the room to test it. Though white vinegar is pet-safe, a dog or cat is likely to stay out of the area due to its strong smell.

Essential oils are also helpful in a quest to naturally get rid of carpet beetles. These bugs don’t like the fragrance of essential oils. Mix a few drops of either peppermint or clove oil with eight ounces of water. Use a spray bottle to apply this mixture to furniture, carpeting on anywhere else you’ve seen these bugs. In a day or so, vacuum the area. Not only can these oils kill carpet beetles, but they can also give a room a pleasant fragrance.

Borax is another substance that can naturally get rid of carpet beetles. Sprinkle Borax around the edges of a room where these pests have been found. The insects die after crawling through the powder. Leave the Borax on the carpet for a day or so before vacuuming.

Also, don’t be afraid to call in the professionals to eradicate these and other pests. They will have multiple options to help get rid of them and do most of the dirty work for you. You need to make sure you hire the right people, though. You should be very careful about who you let into your home and work with chemicals in and around your house.

Video explaining How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles (4 Easy Steps).

How to Discourage Carpet Beetles from Staying in a Home?

Boxes of stored clothing are a favorite hideaway for carpet beetles. Over time their larvae can put holes into every item in a box! One way to discourage these insects from getting into a box of clothing is to wash the clothing items in hot water and dry them. After folding the clothes and placing them in a box, put a few strips of cedar inside it as well. The fragrance of cedar is a deterrent to these insects.

These bugs do not like to remain in places with lots of light. Keeping curtains open in rooms to allow sunlight goes a long way to discourage them from inhabiting a home. Adding more artificial lighting to a room is also effective at deterring these insects.

Repairing torn window screens gives these insects one less way to enter a home. Also, check the weather stripping around a window for damage.

White vinegar can deter these insects as well as kill them. So, getting into the habit of cleaning household items with a mixture of vinegar and water is a smart idea. A household that carries even a mild fragrance of vinegar is not a welcoming one to carpet beetles!

What Type of Damage Can They Do?

Carpet beetle larvae can eat through rugs creating bare spots and holes. They can create holes in a sofa or chair upholstery as well as window curtains. These insect larvae can find their way into the boxes in closets or pantries and chew holes through clothing items, sheets, tablecloths, and more.

Another of the most notable facts about these larvae is they can also damage items in the car. They can chew through the fabric of seats and create bare spots on fabric-covered floormats.

Since these bugs are attracted to dark areas, they are often found in a car’s trunk. Just imagine how easy it would be for carpet beetles to fall out of a gathering of flowers, old blankets or clothing items put in the car or its trunk. The worst thing about insect damage done to upholstery in the car is it’s very expensive to replace.

What Are Some Misconceptions About Carpet Beetles?

One misconception about carpet beetles is their larvae develop very quickly into adults. The truth is it can take over a year for carpet beetle larvae to reach adulthood.

A second misconception is that both adult carpet beetles and larvae eat wool, silk, and other materials. In reality, it’s the larvae of this insect that are responsible for damage to wool, felt, carpet, lint, and other materials. Of course, if you see adult carpet beetles in your home, there are sure to be some eggs left behind somewhere.

Have you ever heard the rumor that adult carpet beetles bite? If so, you’ve heard a common misconception about these insects. Carpet beetles don’t bite humans or pets. If you looked at one under a microscope, you’d see they don’t have teeth, so they aren’t able to bite.

As a note, the bristles on carpet beetle larvae sometimes cause an allergic reaction if they touch a person’s skin. This can cause redness or an itchy rash. Otherwise, the larvae are not harmful to a person.

Up Next:

The more you know about these pests, the better you can confront them or look out for them!


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About the Author

Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!

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