How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Although carpet beetles (also called carpet bugs) are not particularly dangerous to humans, an infestation of this insect can become a horrendous nuisance if your home is filled with food sources that attract carpet beetles. Getting rid of carpet beetles can be a hassle once an infestation takes hold, and sometimes a pest control professional may be needed.

To get rid of carpet beetles measures should be taken to kill as many beetles as possible on carpets, upholstery, and fabrics through laundering and steam cleaning. Boric acid and vinegar are great alternatives to insecticides.

Trying to figure out how to get rid of carpet beetles can be a daunting task, but these insects are thankfully not as severe infestation wise as some other interior insects. Read on to find the best methods, both chemical and natural, that can be used to get rid of carpet beetles and keep your home infestation free.

What Are Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetles are a small species of beetle that invade homes in search of food sources containing the animal protein keratin. This protein is usually found inside of the fibers that are used to make cloth-based items such as carpets, clothing, wool, fur, felt, silk, and leather.

Adult carpet beetles are not nearly as destructive as carpet beetle larvae, which is the life cycle of a carpet beetle that causes tremendous damage to these kinds of materials within a home over a long period of time. Adult carpet beetles will generally be about the size of a dime with black, white, and yellow colors covering the outer shell.

adult carpet beetle

Adult carpet beetle

Carpet beetle larvae are the life cycle that feeds exclusively on keratin-rich materials to help develop properly. Larvae appear wormlike in brown and black colors and have a thick covering of hair that sticks out of the body.

carpet beetle larvae

Carpet beetle larvae

These beetles can be highly destructive when they are allowed to infest a home, therefore, measures must be taken to kill carpet beetles quickly once seen to avoid long-term damage to some of the belongings in your home.

What Causes You to Get Carpet Beetles?

Carpet beetles can be found within most environments and the beetles can enter your home through flying adults on the lookout for food. If you have carpet and any of the above-mentioned items within your home that contain keratin, carpet beetles will find their way to these materials and begin feeding and the process of reproducing to lay eggs.

Carpet Beetles can live both indoors and outdoors, but adults will generally prefer to lay eggs within the materials that house the food source that larvae will need to grow to maturity. Porch lights can be an attractant to a carpet beetle, but the insects can also find their way indoors through flying or crawling through open doors and windows as well as small crack and crevices.

It can also be easy to bring the insects indoors by transporting plants and flowers from outdoors into the home.

Where Do Carpet Beetles Come From and What Are the Signs of Carpet Beetles?

A carpet beetle infestation can be frustrating, but adult beetles are able to enter the home much like the common housefly–they simply fly in. Adult beetles do not feed on the keratin-rich products within a home, this is strictly the larvae that are the causes of a carpet beetle infestation.

An adult carpet beetle eats flower pollen and would much prefer to spend their time outdoors near their own food source. With this said, adults are programmed to deposit their young within the environment that contains their food source–animal protein.

When outdoors, larvae will sometimes be laid near decaying animals or feces, but this is not a stable environment like a carpet or leather couch inside of a home. Therefore, carpet beetles come from outdoors and once they have matured past the larvae stage, the new adults will love back outdoors, but not before causing destruction to carpets and furniture.

The sings of a carpet beetle infestation start small and become larger over time. Small holes or bald spots on carpets, bedding, and fabric are perhaps the most prominent sign of a possible infestation, and you can also look out for tiny exoskeleton shells which are shed as younger beetles grow as well as dead beetles near doors and window seals and adults climbing up walls.

How Do You Find the Source of Carpet Beetles?

When searching for the source of the beetles, most pest control professionals will typically begin their search near windows and doors looking for live or dead adults. Additionally, you can thoroughly inspect carpets or other materials that have holes or bald spots to find larvae that may be crawling around on the fabric.

If you are looking for eggs, check the most obscure and hidden areas of an item that is known to contain their food source. This can also be an area where larvae may be hiding when not feeding.

Where Do Carpet Beetles Hide?

Carpet beetles have similar hiding patterns to bed bugs in the fact that the insects will hide out of view to the best of their ability. You can typically find the insects hiding underneath baseboards, along the edges and seams of carpets, underneath furniture, and in cracks and crevices near windows and doors.

How Do I Permanently Get Rid of Carpet Beetles?

Getting rid of carpet beetles can be tricky if you choose not to utilize a pest control professional, who is the best answer when trying to figure out how to get rid of carpet beetles. If you choose to fight the insects alone, there are many solutions and methods you can try.

How to Manually Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Although this method will not completely ensure that all of the insects are eradicated, this step should be taken to ensure you kill as many beetles as possible to break down the infestation.

  • Steam clean all carpets, upholstery and fabrics. Steam kills adults and larvae on contact and will also kill all present eggs.
  • Vacuum daily to ensure all bugs are removed. Steam is an immediate killer, but you should continue to vacuum to ensure you remove any stragglers.
  • Launder all clothing. A carpet beetle will infest certain types of clothes that are made with animal products. The water and heat from laundering will kill all life stages.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices. Adults have to enter the home in order to start a colony, therefore, ensure that all tiny spaces are sealed and monitor the area when you open and close doors leading to the outside.

How to Chemically Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Insecticides are always the best course of action, rather toxic or natural. For powerful insecticides to eradicate these insects, we recommend the standard Ortho Home Defense Max, which kills a wide variety of inside bugs, including carpet beetles with high effectiveness.

Be sure to coat the spray along all of the edges and seams of carpets and upholstery and monitor the chemical's effectiveness. Do not use insecticides on clothing, rather launder these materials to avoid toxic side effects.

Natural Alternatives

Hot water, vinegar, and boric acid are the three most effective natural items to use against these insects. Although it may not sound like a natural substance due to its reputation, boric acid is not highly toxic to humans or pets, however, the acid can cause minimal side effects if ingested.

A vinegar and hot water mixture has been known to kill the bugs on contact, but it may take several sprays to ensure this mixture is effective. If you choose to use boric acid, we recommend BorActin by Rockwell Labs, which is an innovative and moisture-resistant formulation that will continue to kill beetles for a prolonged period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Carpet Beetles Bad?

This beetle is not inherently dangerous to humans or pets, however, the structural damage to items this insect can inflict can be frustrating and a nuisance. This insect does not prey on humans and will not transmit any dangerous pathogens into the home.

What Do Carpet Beetles Eat?

Adults mostly eat flower pollen and prefer to live their life outdoors to be near this source of food. Larvae are the destructive life cycle that devours carpets, furniture, and clothing to extract the keratin-rich animal substance that most of these items contain.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in My Car?

You can use any of the methods available to kill these insects you choose, but measures should be taken to thoroughly cover the chosen products within the sides and underneath upholstery to ensure you are spreading the product to the insects.

In Summary

Carpet beetle infestations are a terrible nuisance, but thankfully there are many different avenues you can take to eradicate the insects from your home. Once you have eliminated these fabric-destroying pests, be sure to avoid leaving windows and doors open in the spring-early autumn months to ensure you never let the bugs inside in the first place.

Sources: Wikipedia: Keratin

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