Carpet beetles: Signs you have an infestation and how to get rid of them

carpet beetles signs you have an infestation and how to get rid
How to get rid of carpet beetlesNegru Vlad - Getty Images

Carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped insects that can cause severe damage to bedding, clothes, carpets and upholstered furniture if left unattended. Wondering how to treat carpet beetles? Keep reading for everything you need to know about carpet beetles, including their appearance, eggs and signs of a carpet beetle infestation.

What are carpet beetles?

Carpet beetles can become pests in the home if left unchecked. Young carpet beetles and larvae feed on natural fibres like wool, silk and leather, as well as animal products including pet hair. Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen, plants and flowers.

What do carpet beetles look like?

Carpet beetles grow up to 4mm long as adults. They have oval shaped bodies with a striped shell of black, white and yellow or orange.

carpet beetles
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What do carpet beetle eggs and larvae look like?

Carpet beetles lay eggs that are white or cream in colour and are less than 1mm long. Adult carpet beetles lay more than 100 eggs at once which take between 10 days and a month to hatch.

The larvae, also known as 'woolly bears', are larger than the adult beetle. They are 2.5cm in length and are a light brown or black colouring. They have dark hairs all over them except for three golden hairs on the abdomen.

How did I get carpet beetles in my home?

Carpet beetles can enter the home through an open door or window or on an item which is already infested when it is brought inside – like an item of furniture, a plant or on fur. Taxidermy animals are also a popular hotspot for carpet beetles.

Adults like fabric and animal products so can fly in through open windows and lay larvae on furniture, clothes, rugs or carpets. If left alone and the area is not kept clean and sanitised, carpet beetles can easily thrive in the home.

How serious are carpet beetles?

Carpet beetle larvae can cause damage to natural fibres while they feed, leaving holes in throws and clothes. If attached to clothing, the bristly hairs can also irritate human skin. Other than skin irritation, they are not harmful to humans.

In most cases, they do not cause damage to the property itself but more the objects inside it, like bedding, carpets and furniture. If they are left to breed, the problem could get worse.

varied carpet beetle anthrenus verbasci

Signs of a carpet beetle infestation

Seeing adult carpet beetles in the home can signify that larvae has been laid somewhere. Adult carpet beetles are attracted to light so you are likely to find them around bulbs and windows.

Signs of larvae include damage and holes in fabric items, thin or bare areas on wool rugs, damage to blankets, and shed larval skins in hidden areas.

Where do carpet beetles lay their eggs?

Adults are likely to lay their eggs where there is enough food for their young so look for those hotspots. They also prefer areas out of direct sunlight – like along skirting boards or in shady corners.

More pest control advice:

How to get rid of moths

11 natural ways to keep spiders out of your house

How to get rid of mice in your home

Where can carpet beetles be found in the home?

  • carpet

  • curtains

  • clothes

  • soft furnishings

  • furniture

  • animal beds

  • taxidermy

  • bird nests in the chimney or roof

  • potpourri

  • bedding

  • plants and flowers

  • pet biscuits

  • flour and dried pasta

How to get rid of carpet beetles

Vacuum regularly – Carpet beetle larvae like to feed on debris in the carpet, including dead skin, dead insects and hair (both human and pet). Hoovering regularly will mean there is less for the carpet beetles to feed on. You can also hoover up larvae and eggs. Pay particular attention to the carpet along the skirting boards.

Steam cleaning – Much like vacuuming, the experts recommend steaming cleaning hard surfaces. The heat and moisture removes remaining beetles and eggs.

Wiping or spraying surfaces with vinegar – Another tip for getting rid of carpet beetles is to wipe surfaces, window sills, shelves, drawers and hangers with a vinegar mix. You'll want to ensure any dirt or food residue is regularly cleaned up.

get rid of carpet beetles
Daisy Daisy - Getty Images

Clean infected areas thoroughly – Make sure you remove the larvae and any debris. Ensure surfaces, furniture and soft furnishings are regularly wiped down or laundered. Be careful using pesticides as these can be toxic and are not environmentally-friendly. They could also be poisonous to pets.

Put infected items in the washing machine – Clothes, throws and soft furnishings you are concerned about can be put in the washing machine, where a high temperature will kill the larvae. Always check labels before washing.

Inspect plants – Regularly have a look over your houseplants and flowers when you water them and wipe down the leaves. This is especially important when you first bring them indoors.

Shake freshly cut flowers before bringing them inside — There's nothing better than a beautiful bunch of spring flowers, but you could be bringing carpet beetles inside without realising. Give your flowers a gentle shake before popping them in a vase to ensure carpet beetles aren't hiding inside (they like to feed on pollen).

Seal gaps – Make sure cracks and gaps around doors and windows are sealed and secure.

Call pest control – If you feel like the problem is out of your control and you cannot locate the larvae, contact a licensed pest control and ask for professional advice.

Keep dried food in sealed containers – Carpet beetles like to feed on dried goods, including flour and dried pasta. Make sure you keep all food in sealed containers.

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