Carpet beetles are some of the most damaging types of pests. Known for looking similar to ladybugs, carpet beetle can infest a home and damage wool, silk, or fur carpets.
Known to feed on the fabrics of carpets, these bugs can sometimes be prevented. Other times they make their way indoors and breed in large numbers. Identifying them correctly is important for dealing with them since there are multiple types of carpet beetle.
What are carpet beetles?
Carpet beetles are a type of bug that damages natural fibers. This bug is considered a pest on almost all continents.
Carpet beetles eat carpet, furniture, wool clothes, and other types of natural fibers.
Most carpet beetles live at least a year but they can live as long as 3 years. While the Varied carpet beetle is considered the most common species of carpet beetle, various other species have the same negative impact on natural fibers.
Carpet beetle identification
Identifying carpet beetles is a must when you want to eliminate them from your house.
Many species of carpet beetles make their way indoors to lay eggs in search of a warm habitat. They lay larvae and larvae are responsible for the physical damage inside the house
Carpet beetles come in various colors and sizes. They can be as small as 2mm or as large as 1/4”.
Coloring varies from bright white and yellow to all-black. Different species of carpet beetles have different colors.
Carpet beetle larvae are shaped like a carrot where one end is narrower. As adult carpet beetles, larvae also come in various colors such as light brown or dark brown.
Most carpet beetle larvae also have short visible hairs.
What do carpet beetles eat?
Carpet beetles eat all types of animal products such as wool, skin, and fur. Some carpet beetles can also eat hair and even dead insects.
Carpet beetles eat animal products by sharing the same nest with animals such as birds or by flying indoors (mainly for warmth) where they feed on natural fiber clothes and textiles.
Can you get rid of carpet beetles?
Carpet beetles are not complicated to get rid of. These bugs are known to be dealt with by frequently cleaning the home.
A dirty home tends to attract carpet beetles. They are found in wool, in clothes, and on any other material of animal origin.
Insecticides aren’t recommended against these types of beetles as they can end up on food which is dangerous.
Frequently vacuuming the house is recommended if you want to get rid of carpet beetles. Ensuring you wash and dry clothes properly are also recommended, especially clothes made from wool or cotton.
Types of carpet beetles
1. Black Carpet Beetle
Black Carpet Beetles (Attagenus unicolor) get their name from their black bodies. Except for the brown legs these carpet beetles are mostly black.
The Black Carpet Beetle larvae are believed to be the most problematic. These carpet beetles are known to stay in the larvae stage for a few months. But they can also remain larvae for up to 3 years.
Black Carpet Beetle lay eggs in remote dark places such as under the furniture. It’s here that larvae emerge eating clothes, carpets, and furniture.
These carpet beetles have also been shown to be problematic in museums where they eat old natural fibers. In homes and museums, these carpet beetles and their larvae are primarily dealt with by frequent vacuum cleaning the premises.
2. Brown Carpet Beetle
Brown Carpet Beetles (Attagenus smirnovi) are known for their brown body and a dark brown to blackhead. Like most carpet beetles, the Brown Carpet Beetle is small as larvae but it can grow up to 8mm.
These carpet beetles have known pests, particularly in Europe. They have been studied for their natural life cycle.
Brown Carpet Beetle can stay in the larvae stage for at least 3 months whenever it lives in homes. Heated homes allow larvae to pupate into adults within 3 months.
However, most homes aren’t heated throughout the year which means these carpet beetles can stay in the larvae stage for at least 6 months in real-world conditions.
They cause considerable damage around the house within this time.
The adult female is also known to prefer warmth and humidity to lay eggs. Whenever a home is dry and cool the female might only lay up to 30 eggs. A warm humid home is going to prompt the female to lay more than 50 eggs at a time.
Adult carpet beetles of this genus can be seen during the day. They are a diurnal species with the capacity to fly around the house, mainly to start new colonies and create more damage.
3. Fur Beetle
Fur Beetles (Attagenus pellio) are identified by their black bodies. These carpet beetles from up to 1.4” and they are known to make their way indoors at times.
Most times these carpet beetles are found in bird nests. They feed on various plants but become destructive indoors where they eat fur, skins, and other clothes.
These carpet beetles are known to mate outside of the house. They only fly into homes to lay eggs, as houses provide constant warmth.
Fur beetles mate once per year which means they also get inside the house only once each year.
4. Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetles (Anthrenus verbasci) are some of the most common types of carpet beetles in the world. Mostly found in England, these beetles are known to emerge in the spring, typically at the same time with good warm weather.
Temperature impacts Varied Carpet Beetles considerably. They need to survive cool nights and often make their way indoors to lay eggs.
These beetles are common in bird nests and mammal nests. They fly indoors where they lay their eggs.
Varied Carpet Beetle eggs are normally found in closest or under furniture, areas of the house that are a bit sheltered.
Since they often fly with air currents, Varied Carpet Beetles often lay eggs in air ducts.
Some adult beetles prefer to go out of their way to find a sheltered place to lay eggs in. They normally look for old objects around the house such as old musical instruments to hide in.
All-natural fiber items in the house are damaged by the larvae of this species. This includes clothes, towels, linen, blankets, and carpets.
5. Common Carpet Beetle
This black carpet beetle (Anthrenus scrophulariae) with white scales is found all around the world and in the Northern United States.
Carpet beetles of this species are largely known for living outdoors. They feed on plant nectar and pollen and they also lay eggs on plants and flowers.
Common Carpet Beetles also make their way indoors where they lay eggs in clothes and carpets.
Larvae might be laid all around the house, including in cabinets. These carpet beetles take up to 70 days to develop.
6. Furniture Carpet Beetle
The Furniture Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus flavipes) gets its name from the damage it creates to furniture. Upholstered furniture is among the most affected types of furniture by this species.
Furniture Carpet Beetle is also found in the US. Southern states are where this species is prolific and where it creates the most damage.
The problem with Furniture Carpet Beetle larvae is tied to dietary habits.
If most types of carpet beetle larvae feed on natural fibers, the larvae of the Furniture Carpet Beetle also feed on mold. It may only be found in high mold areas of the house.
The species may be found in smaller numbers in Northern states, particularly indoors.
Furniture Carpet Beetles like warm weather. Under the right conditions, they are known to lay a larger number of eggs compared to other types of carpet beetles.
Female Furniture Carpet Beetles can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time.
7. Asian Carpet Beetle
Asia Carpet Beetles (Anthrenus coloratus) have been shown to damage natural materials that come from animals. This includes fur and fur products such as clothes as well as wool products such as wool carpets.
The Asian Carpet Beetle is often confused with the Common Carpet Beetle due to its light color body.
The exact origin of this species remains unknown. Many believe this carpet beetle comes from Russia.
However, the species is now seen all across the world, including in Europe and North America.
Most Asian Carpet Beetle invasions have been linked to museums. Stuffed animals are among the favorite places for these carpet beetles to lay eggs in.
Bugs that look like carpet beetles
Carpet beetles have a dome-shaped round body which means they’re often confused with other species.
Since most people see carpet beetles indoors they assume they are bed bugs or ladybugs. However, carpet beetles also resembled ticks and fleas among other types of insects.
1. Bed bugs
Bed bugs are known for having a round shape. While the body of bed bugs isn’t dome-shaped but rather flattened, their size and coloring resemble carpet beetles.
Common bed bugs
Common bed bugs have a dark brown color with an elongated body shape. These bed bugs resemble other brown carpet beetles such as the Brown Carpet Beetle.
Small common bed bugs also look similar to carpet beetle larvae. Both are shiny brown and elongated.
Eastern bed bug
Eastern bed bugs are known for their round shape brown body and brown head. These bed bugs are common inside the house where they nest in beds.
Carpet beetle might be interested in laying eggs on natural fiber blankets found on beds. As a result, the Eastern bed bug is often confused with brown carpet beetles.
Swallow bugs have a light brown round body. Often found in homes, these types of bugs are some of the most problematic pests as they can go on for long periods without food.
Unlike carpet beetles, Swallow bugs are known to survive without food for more than a year. This might confuse those who eliminate all-natural fiber goods known to attract carpet beetles.
Chimney bugs are a type of diurnal bed bug (unlike the Common bed bug).
Confused with diurnal carpet beetles, Chimney bugs have a brown body. They are seen crawling and not flying, which might make identification easier.
Ladybugs are known to have a small round body that’s also dome-shaped, similar to the body of carpet beetles. There are many species of ladybugs and some of them resemble carpet beetles more than others.
Ticks are sometimes known to be a complicated pest to get rid of. Ticks are also known for having multiple looks depending on their species.
Soft ticks (Ornithodoros) are known to resemble brown carpet beetles the most. These ticks have a soft uniform brown body similar in size to the body of carpet beetles.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between Soft ticks and carpet beetles. The habitat might help distinguish between the species as Soft ticks are common in the Western United States while many carpet beetles are found in Southern and Northern US.
Fleas are known for resembling carpet beetles as well. There are more than 2.000 types of fleas around the world and many are known for their similarities to carpet beetles.
Brown fleas are known to live attached to their host, such as a dog. They live off the host which is similar to the habits of living off organic fabrics of carpet beetles.
5. Baby Cockroaches
Cockroach nymphs or baby cockroaches are often seen in a similar size to carpet beetles. Both can be brown or shiny brown which makes these species very similar to each other.
While there are more than 4.000 species of cockroaches, many baby cockroaches have a similar color which later changes as roaches become adults.
6. Colorado potato beetle
The invasive Colorado potato beetle is one of the beetle species that resemble carpet beetles. These bugs are known for having a similar round dome-shaped body as carpet beetles.
The striped body of the Colorado potato beetle is one of the easiest methods to distinguish these similar beetles.
Habitat and diet are also important as the Colorado potato beetle prefers to live outdoors on potato crops.
Coccinella are types of ladybugs that are common in Asia and partially in the US. These types of bugs are a distinct species, mainly characterized by a multi-colored orange and black body.
Apart from having multiple colors such as Common carpet beetles, Coccinella beetles are also known for having a round dome-shaped body.
Both these species can make their way indoors for food, shelter, or attracted to lights.
Polyphaga bugs come in a wide range of colors, similar to Carpet beetles. These bugs can have either an elongated body or around the body. They can be green, black, or yellow, similar to carpet beetles.
Carpet beetle damages and prevention tactics
Carpet beetles create the following damages around the house:
- Irregular holes in carpets
- Holes in wool or cotton clothes such as sweaters and cotton jeans
- Damaged towels
- Holes in leather on armchairs and sofas
Apart from the physical damage, these bugs create there are also health reasons to worry about when you see them inside the house.
Carpet beetles can cause skin irritation and even dermatitis. These bugs need to be vacuumed whenever you find them indoors to avoid further skin conditions.
The larvae of carpet beetles tend to create the most physical damage. Carpet beetles can be in their larvae stage for at least 3 months. This is when they feed on animal products such as fibers and skin around the house.
Carpet beetles may continue feeding on these types of materials as they pupate.
Many types of carpet beetles can fly moving around the house and infesting new rooms. Diurnal species are easy to spot.
But most carpet beetles and larvae can only be removed by frequently vacuuming the house. This removes all of their eggs and larvae and physically eliminates them from the house.
Using chemicals and pesticides isn’t recommended as you may end up hurting your health. Eliminating these bugs with chemicals is further limited by the surfaces they’re found on as wool is not known for resisting chemical treatments.
There are various types of carpet beetles to worry about as all can cause damage around the house. Many types of carpet beetles are small and colorful.
Other types such as the Black carpet beetle are larger and different from most other species of carpet beetles.
All of these species are known for having an impact on your home’s carpets, clothes, and upholstered furniture.
Most adult carpet beetles found in North American homes grow to a size between 2 and 5mm. They may only be eliminated with physical measures such as sweeping and vacuuming.