Carpet beetles are a kind of beetles which generally feed on various types of materials made from animals such as animal hair, wool, fur, leather and silk. Carpet beetles are known to infest clothing, pillows, wool, comforters, coats, blankets, decorated furniture and carpets. They generally do not feed on synthetic fabrics but might attack these items if they are soiled with food, oil and perspiration.
Carpet beetle infestations can spread pretty quickly. Adult carpet beetles can feed on nectar and pollen outdoors. Carpet beetle larvae might end up eating milled products from the kitchen or pantry, animal food and seeds. Grown carpet beetles can survive both outdoors and indoors but the female beetles usually prefer laying their eggs in places where there is an abundance of larval food sources.
These beetles enter homes through open windows, doors and other openings like cracks and holes. They can also come in through flowers and plants from outdoors. Carpet beetles are known to feed on dead birds and animals and often make their habitat inside the nest of some bird or some insect and can reside on your chimney and walls.
Both the larvae and the adult carpet beetles prefer feeding in dark and undisturbed places. Due to this, identifying their infestation can prove to be quite difficult. Hence, the infestation can spread before you notice anything wrong.
What are the different kinds of carpet beetles?
Black carpet beetle: These carpet beetles have black heads and pronota. Their size generally varies from 2.8 to 5 millimetres in length. Their wings are known as elytra and they are brownish black in color. The black carpet beetles usually infest the closet, other apparel storage areas, and the kitchen cabinets. The adult black carpet beetles can survive for months and the larvae can live up to around 640 days. Adult beetles are not known to cause any damage indoors.
Varied carpet beetle: These kinds of carpet beetles are widely scattered around the US. The adult varied carpet beetles are much smaller in size than the black carpet beetles and they are also more circular in shape than them. On their wings, they have a pattern of white, yellow and brown scales. The varied carpet beetle can cause serious damage to clothing, furniture, fabrics and carpets just like the black carpet beetle.
Furniture carpet beetle: These pests are responsible for damaging your upholstered furniture the most. Keratin is the main protein found in animal feathers and hair, and this kind of carpet beetles can digest this keratin easily. The entire life cycle of this pest requires around four months to a year, the time period depending on the temperature.
The Life Cycle Of Carpet Beetles
Every species of these pests undergoes entire metamorphosis and passes through a lot of stages before developing into a full blown adult. These life cycle phases comprise of stages of eggs, larvae and the pupal stage. The lifecycle of these pests can generally range from 2 to 3 months to many years.
Eggs and Larvae
The moment a female carpet beetle lays her eggs marks the beginning of the lifecycle of a carpet beetle. The female carpet beetles lay her eggs indoor, although they are known to infest nests of insects, mice and birds. The female carpet beetle has the ability to lay more than a hundred eggs at a time after mating with the male near any source of light. These eggs take around seven to 35 days to hatch into larvae. Adult carpet beetles are good fliers; hence they can quickly go from one place to another. The larvae of carpet beetles generally feed on wool, silk, fur and feathers among other things but they also can go days without food and yet survive.
Adults and Pupae
The duration of the pupal phase of a carpet beetle varies. Adult carpet beetles emerge only in summer or spring. Young carpet beetles take around 10 months to two years to develop into adults.
Are carpet beetles harmful?
The shortest answer is – yes. They do not bite people but they do end up causing itchy, bumpy rashes that most people often mistake as bites from a bed bug. Contact with hair fibres present in the body of a carpet beetle for a prolonged amount of time can cause these rashes. Airborne fibres can also lead to eye and respiratory tract infections. Larvae can cause damage to household furnishing, clothing and other household items. Carpet beetle larvae usually feed on natural fibres whereas the adults can feed on pollen and nectar from flowers and plants as well. Infestations occur rapidly and go unnoticed many a times, primarily because these beetles inhabit dark spaces.
Material Damage And Other Problems Caused By Carpet Beetles
Larvae of a carpet beetle feed on wool, fur, silk and other products and can cause severe damage to upholstered furniture, household materials, carpets, clothing etc. The ability of adult carpet beetles to fly around the house makes them more harmful as they are sometimes considered to be pantry pests. Their flying capabilities get them inside your pantry where they lay eggs close to a food source. The larvae of these pests can get into seeds, milled products, animal food and more.
The adult carpet beetles feed on the pollen and nectar of flowers and plants and can often be seen rummaging through your garden, damaging your flora.
Carpet Beetle Bites
Carpet beetles do not bite; sharp hairs on the back of these pests cause rashes and allergies, which people confuse with carpet beetle bites. These sharp hairs pierce the sensitive skin of human beings, particularly that of children, and can result in different types of allergic reactions and itchy rashes. Carpet beetle stings are often mistaken as bed bug bites.
Two people sleeping in the same bed can experience different outcomes; one might be covered in carpet beetle bites and rashes while other will seem to be absolutely fine. Since the skin of a person is punctured and not bitten, the victim can be diagnosed with different skin diseases such as dermatitis, vasculitis, lymphadenopathy and allergic rhinitis.
Effective Ways Of Getting Rid Of Carpet Beetles:
Early identification of carpet beetle infestation and prevention can save you from a whole lot of trouble. Regular application of alcohol can help you get rid of carpet beetle from your house. Alcohol has the capability of killing these pests by melting their cells and thus, is highly recommended. This remedy can prevent further infestation, saving you an enormous headache. You will find alcohol in nearly all carpet beetle sprays as it is a highly effective ingredient. You can spray rubbing alcohol on the surface of furniture and carpets. This will prevent beetles from laying eggs in these places.
2. Cider Vinegar
Cider vinegar is one of the best household ingredients to get rid of carpet beetles from your house without causing much harm to your housing environment and your family. Vinegar is toxic for the beetles as it is a natural pesticide. Cider vinegar also acts effectively in cleaning carpets naturally.
3. Steam Vacuum Cleaning
You can start cleaning your carpets and other household items with a steam vacuum cleaner. Focus your cleaning on the areas where most of the infestation is concentrated. The temperature coming from the steam will eliminate the beetles and their larvae. Keep cleaning the carpets daily for 3-4 days to ensure that all the pests have been killed. You can also add plain vinegar to the steam cleaner and replace the chemical cleaners. While cleaning the household items, there is a possibility of your room smelling strongly of vinegar, but it will pass in some time.
4. Cedar oil
Cedar oil can remove carpet beetles from your house in several ways. It can cause suffocation and osmotic dehydration to adult beetles, thereby killing them. Cedar oil also has the ability to dissolve the eggs and larvae of the carpet beetles. This can be applied directly to you infested furniture, rugs, carpets and other products. You can also make a cedar oil spray by mixing it with water. Remember to not add any essential oil on to the steam vacuum cleaner as it might end up damaging the cleaner and the fumes coming out could prove to be dangerous if inhaled.
5. Neem Oil
With Neem oil, you can kill these pests at any phase of their lifecycle. It is very effective in getting rid of insects and carpet beetles. Neem oil works by weakening the functioning of the hormonal system of these pesticides because to the compounds present in neem oil, thereby killing the insects. Once this happens, the carpet beetles stop mating, eating, flying and laying eggs. Even if they are successful in laying eggs, those eggs don’t hatch. Eventually, the carpet beetles population starts getting wiped out from your car, house, apartment and closet. You can make a spray by mixing neem oil and alcohol.
6. Carpet Beetle Spray Made Of Essential Oils
A mixture of cedar and neem oil works well in eliminating carpet beetles from your house. Other essential oils that might seem useful are clove oil and peppermint oil, as these act as natural insecticides. You can make an effective beetle spray depending on which essential oil you prefer. For best results, make a carpet beetle spray by adding 9-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to a glass of alcohol. The oil will completely dissolve into the alcohol and can be used as a spray.
7. Boric Acid
Boric acid is another effective method that can help you get rid of carpet beetles permanently. Boric acid is very effective in killing cockroaches and beetles but doesn’t cause any harm to us humans. You can get powder boric acid in any pharmacy near you. Just sprinkle some of the powder boric acid on your carpet and other household items and distribute the powder evenly by using a brush. You can also make a carpet beetle spray by mixing boric acid powder and water and spray it on your household furniture and other products.
8. Dry Cleaning
Carpet beetles are known to be extremely resilient, and it is advised to use hot water instead of cold water to remove these pests. The best would be to steam clean and it is also advised to use detergent as these will kill the beetles by choking them. Beetles infesting your clothes can be killed by dry-cleaning them as toxic solvents are used to carry this out.
There might be clothes that you cannot dry clean or wash in hot water. For such type of products, freezing is the best option to get rid of the carpet beetles. The beetle and its larvae cannot survive the deep freeze and thus get killed immediately. Put your beetle infested clothes in a plastic bag and put the bag in the freezer for 2-3 days.
10. Diatomaceous earth
This is a natural product that very effectively and rapidly kills the carpet beetles by scorching and desiccating them. You can sprinkle some of this product on your rug or carpet and then spread it evenly using a brush or a broom. Also, make sure to sprinkle some of it in your closet and furniture. Remember to wear a mask while carrying out this activity so you don’t harm yourself in any way.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
This is another essential oil that is very effective in carpet beetles extermination. Carpet beetles avoid this essential oil as they consider the pungent smell of this oil to be hazardous. This oil can be applied effectively on your pets and your clothes.
Though adult carpet beetles are less harmful than the larvae as they do nothing else but lay eggs, still they need to be taken care of as they are the reason of increasing the pest population. Flying insect foggers can be used to kill these adult beetles and keep them from flying and attacking others.
Add mothballs to your clothes and other fabric to prevent them from getting damaged by these beetles.
14. Homemade Mint Spray
Carpet beetles hate minty fragrances. There are various natural mint sprays that you can consider to get rid of these beetles. Spray this on your clothes, curtains and carpets to get rid of them.
15. Outdoor maintenance
Adult carpet beetles generally feed on pollen and nectar from plant and flowers and stay outdoors. You can pollinate your flowers highly thus getting rid of them.
It’s commonplace enough for people to ignore carpet beetle infestations. Not only are these insects easy to miss if you don’t observe carefully, but also the effects of infestations on your furniture and clothes are gradual. However, we’d recommend that you don’t ignore these little menaces and take appropriate action as soon as you find symptoms of carpet beetles in your home. If you take a long time to drive these pests out of your house, they can end up causing serious damage to your properties. Thus it is best advised to take immediate action.