Carpet Beetles Eat More Than Rugs

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

Besides feasting on your belongings, these beetle larvae shed small hairs which can cause allergies. Infestations of these pests have been linked to the spread of infectious diseases, like 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 containing organic fibers and organic products. Here is a sampling of the preferred carpet beetle buffet:

Household Items

  • Carpets – Most synthetic carpets contain some organic materials
  • Rugs
  • Drapery
  • Furniture
  • Clothing – especially cotton, silk and wool
  • Household linens – tablecloths, dishtowels, sheets, towels

In the Pantry

  • Cereal
  • Corn
  • Flour
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Pasta
  • Seeds
  • Birdseed
  • Pet Food

Misc.

  • Hair (pet or human)
  • Animal Fur
  • Animal hides
  • Taxidermy animals
  • Dead animal carcasses

There are three species of carpet beetle 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 stage in their lifecycle. Females lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs near food sources. An adult beetle can live four years, laying eggs once a year. Eggs are incredibly resilient. Once the eggs develop into cocoons and larvae, they stay in this stage nearly a year. The larvae is the most destructive stage. Both eggs and larvae are very difficult to detect since they tend to blend in with the fabric they inhabit. Once they mature, carpet beetles are scavengers and may be found in areas well away from food sources.

You may find one or two larvae crawling on surfaces. But the first sign of a carpet beetle infestation is usually irregular holes chewed in fabrics. They feed on the nap of fabrics and carpeting without eating the base threads. If you are finding 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 most often 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 may accumulate
  • Corners and bottoms of drawers
  • Along baseboards where carpet meets molding
  • Under area rugs and carpets
  • Inside closets – especially in corners
  • In basements and attics
  • Between walls and insulation
  • In and under storage boxes
  • On window and door frame moldings
  • In gaps alongside and above and below shelving
  • Outside your home where there might be dead rodents or birds