Carpet Beetle Life Cycle: Understanding and Managing These Intruders

Carpet beetles are a common household pest known for damaging various materials, especially upholstery, carpets, and clothing.

Their life cycles range from around 180 to 650 days, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

These insects go through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The larval stage is the most destructive as they actively feed on organic materials, including fabrics, lint, and pet hair.

Carpet Beetle Life Cycle

Carpet beetle larva

Adult beetles usually measure between 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length and have various colors and patterns on their wings.

As the larvae grow, they molt and shed their skin, leaving behind telltale signs of infestation.

Different species of carpet beetles might have slightly varying life cycles.

Some might take two to three years to complete their life cycle, while others can have multiple generations within a year.

Preventative measures and proper cleaning can effectively combat carpet beetle infestations and protect valuable possessions.

Carpet Beetle Life Cycle

Eggs

Carpet beetle females lay around 50-100 eggs near food sources.

The eggs are small and hatch in about two weeks, depending on the environment’s temperature.

The higher the temperature, the shorter the hatching time.

Larvae

After the eggs hatch, the carpet beetle larvae emerge. These larvae feed on high protein foods, usually animal-based.

Though, they can consume plant material as well. The larvae stage is the most damaging, as they feed on materials in your home.

Key Features of Larvae:

  • Feed on high protein foods
  • Can consume plant material
  • Most damaging stage

Pupae

As the larvae mature, they enter the pupal stage. During this stage, they undergo a transformation into adult carpet beetles.

The duration of the pupal stage depends on factors such as temperature and species.

Adults

When the pupa stage is complete, new adult carpet beetles emerge.

The complete life cycle of carpet beetles takes four to 12 months, depending on temperature and species.

In warmer conditions, their life cycle is shorter, and there can be three to four generations per year.

Characteristics of Adult Carpet Beetles:

  • Round shape
  • 2 to 3.5 mm long
  • Black with yellow and white mottling of scales on the back, and thick yellow scales on the legs

Adult carpet beetle

Comparison between different stages:

Stage Duration Behavior
Eggs 2 weeks (approximately) Hatch near food sources
Larvae Varies based on species Feed on high protein foods, cause damage
Pupae Varies based on species Transformation stage, duration depends on factors
Adults 4 to 12 months Complete life cycle, multiple generations per year

Recognizing Carpet Beetles

Common Species

There are several common species of carpet beetles, including:

  • Black carpet beetle: larger in size and considered more destructive than other species
  • Varied carpet beetle: known for its distinctive, mottled appearance
  • Furniture carpet beetle: commonly found infesting upholstered furniture

Physical Characteristics

Black Carpet Beetle

The black carpet beetle is usually 3-7 mm in length, with a shiny, black, oval-shaped body.

It is known to be more destructive than other species due to its longer larval stage and preference for a wider range of materials.

Black Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetle

The varied carpet beetle, or Anthrenus verbasci, is smaller than the black carpet beetle, measuring around 2-3 mm in length.

It has a distinctive mottled appearance, with white, brown, and yellow scales on their upper body.

Varied Carpet Beetle

The larval stage is tear-drop shaped and covered with light brown hairs. They primarily feed as scavengers on organic debris.

Furniture Carpet Beetle

The furniture carpet beetle has a similar size and shape as the varied carpet beetle but can be distinguished by the yellow, white, and black scales on its body.

This species is commonly found in upholstered furniture.

Comparison Table

Feature Black Carpet Beetle Varied Carpet Beetle Furniture Carpet Beetle
Size (mm) 3-7 2-3 2-3
Color Shiny Black Mottled White, Brown, and Yellow Yellow, White, and Black
Feeding Habits Wide range of materials Scavenger Upholstered furniture

Causes of Infestation

Indoor Infestation

Carpet beetle infestations indoors typically occur when beetles or their larvae enter your home through open windows or doors.

These pests are attracted to:

  • Animal materials such as wool, fur, hair, feathers, and silk
  • Soiled cotton, linen, and synthetic fibers
  • Dead insects, book bindings, glue, leather, and bones

Some common indoor hiding spots for carpet beetles include closets, behind furniture, and along baseboards.

For example, larvae may feed on lint, pet hair, food crumbs, or other organic debris that accumulate in these areas.

Indoor Infestation Causes:

  • Open windows or doors
  • Presence of animal materials
  • Accumulated organic debris

Outdoor Infestation

During the summer, carpet beetles can also infest outdoor spaces like nests and gardens. The insects often lay their eggs near food sources, such as:

  • Nests of birds or rodents
  • Flowers that produce pollen
  • Light sources at night

Outdoors, carpet beetles can become a pest to plants, feeding on pollen and occasionally causing damage to garden plants.

Varied Carpet Beetles

Outdoor Infestation Causes:

  • Warm weather in summer
  • Proximity to nests or gardens
  • Access to light sources at night
Indoor Infestation Outdoor Infestation
Open windows & doors Warm summer weather
Presence of animal materials Proximity to nests
Accumulated organic debris Access to light sources at night

Damage and Problems Associated with Carpet Beetles

Material Damage

Carpet beetle larvae are known to cause significant damage to various materials, including textiles and animal products.

Some common items affected by these pests are:

  • Wool clothing
  • Natural fibers, such as silk and leather
  • Animal products like fur and feathers
  • Book bindings and furniture

For example, a wool sweater might become riddled with holes due to carpet beetle larvae feeding on the natural fibers.

These pests are also capable of damaging synthetic fibers, but usually only when the items are soiled or contain traces of organic material to attract them.

Allergies

Aside from material damage, carpet beetles can contribute to allergy issues.

The tiny hairs that cover the larvae can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in some individuals.

Symptoms may include redness, itching, or rashes on the skin.

To minimize the risk of allergies from carpet beetles, preventive measures such as regular vacuuming and inspection of susceptible areas can be helpful.

In summary, while dermestids like carpet beetles can cause material damage to various items and contribute to allergy issues, there are ways to manage and minimize these risks.

Keeping the home clean and regularly inspecting susceptible items can help prevent issues associated with carpet beetles.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Preventing and Managing Infestations

Cleaning and Sanitation

Regular cleaning is crucial to preventing carpet beetle infestations.

Vacuum thoroughly, especially in corners and under furniture, to eliminate larvae and eggs.

For example, steam cleaning can effectively kill the larvae and sanitize the infested areas.

Some essential tips for cleaning and sanitation:

  • Regular vacuuming
  • Steam cleaning

Insecticides and Treatments

Using registered insecticides may help manage carpet beetle infestations.

Boric acid is a popular option, as it can be sprinkled on carpets, furniture, and other infested areas.

However, improper application can be hazardous, and treatments may have varying effectiveness.

Non-Chemical Solutions

Other methods are available to manage carpet beetle infestations without chemicals.

Vinegar, when mixed with an equal part of water, can be lightly sprayed on infested items to kill larvae.

Some alternative solutions:

  • Temperature control (heat treatments)
  • Vinegar spray

Professional Assistance

If the infestation persists despite efforts, consider hiring a professional pest management company. They have the expertise and tools necessary to effectively handle carpet beetle infestations.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Significance for Ecology and Distribution

Carpet beetles, particularly the black carpet beetle, can cause significant damage to household products.

These insects are of ecological importance as they help break down organic matter. Their distribution is notable as they are found worldwide.

Adult beetles have a role to play too. They mainly feed on pollen and nectar from plants, thus aiding in pollination.

A common location where adult beetles can be found is on crape myrtle plants.

Mating is an important aspect of carpet beetles’ life cycle. After mating, female beetles lay their eggs in areas with sufficient food supply for their larvae.

This ensures a new generation of beetles continues the species’ ecological role.

Here is a comparison table of features between two common species of carpet beetles:

Feature Black Carpet Beetle Varied Carpet Beetle
Size 3-7 mm 2-3 mm
Color Black or dark brown Mottled brown and cream
Habitat Households, lint, dead insects Households, lint, pet hair

Some interesting characteristics of carpet beetles include:

  • Ability to cause damage to household products
  • Adults’ active role in pollination
  • Worldwide distribution
  • Larvae’s scavenging abilities in breaking down organic matter

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the life cycle of carpet beetles, from egg to adult, is crucial for managing these common household pests.

Recognizing the distinct characteristics of different species, such as the Black, Varied, and Furniture carpet beetles, aids in effective identification and control.

The article has highlighted the causes of infestations, the damage they inflict, and various management strategies, emphasizing the significance of regular cleaning, targeted treatments, and professional assistance when necessary.

Additionally, the ecological importance and worldwide distribution of carpet beetles have been explored.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about carpet beetles.

Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Tiny Bug
Location: New Jersey, USA
December 12, 2010 12:32 am
Can you tell me about this bug found in my house? It is very small, about the size of a sesame seed.
Signature: Sincerely

Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Dear Sincerely,
This is a Buffalo Carpet Beetle or Common Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus scrophulariae.  Carpet Beetles in the genus Anthrenus are “An abundant household ‘stored product pest.’ In nature they inhabit the abandoned nests of birds and mammals, as well as old wasp nests where the larvae scavenge on accumulated fur, feathers, skin flakes, and dead insects” according to BugGuide. 

BugGuide gives this advice for Carpet Beetle control:  “Controlling carpet beetles can be achieved by keeping your home free of accumulated hair and dust (dust is mostly shed skin flakes of people and pets), discarding infested items and properly storing vulnerable items.

Store dry foods (including dry pet food) in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids. Store woolens, furs, silks in a cedar chest. Forget mothballs and moth crystals. They are ineffective and carcinogenic respectively.”

Letter 2 – Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Subject: What is this
Location: Loveland, Colorado
March 21, 2013 5:01 am
Found this crawling on my pillow last night. The weather here has been warm and cold almost spring but not yet. Think this critter got confused.
Signature: Rodney

Buffalo Carpet Beetle
Buffalo Carpet Beetle

Hi Rodney,
This is a Buffalo Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus scrophulariae, one of the most colorful of the household pests in the family Dermestidae.  Larvae of Carpet Beetles feed on a wide variety of organic items in the home, including stored foods and textiles composed or organic materials like leather and wool. 

According to BugGuide:  “Adults copulate and feed on the blossoms of white flowers; the females require nectar and pollen to stimulate oviposition, which usually limits indoor infestations.

Mated and fed females fly into houses or carried in on flowers. Once inside, or in an animal burrow or nest, the female lays eggs and dies. Larvae feed until the end of the warm season, when most pupate and the remainder overwinter.”

Letter 3 – Carpet Beetle Larva

would appreciate info on this bug
Hi,
I’ve been finding about 4 of these critters a week under my bed for a few years. On a couple of occasions, I’ve found them where I work, so they may be parasitic, and living off of me. The pictures show one 3 mm long by 1.5 mm wide, which is as big as they get.

On three very rare occasions I’ve seen one (of a different sex, I imagine) which is twice as long, less round, and more conical, and with long hairs on its tail. All are brown on top, tan on the bottom, with 2 rows of legs, about 20 legs each.

They are very inactive, and quite robust, being able to survive 24 hours in the freezer, or 2 weeks without food. I’ve made a short movie that shows one using it’s many legs to flip over, and run away. It’s in Real Player format, and can be found on the web at http://www.angelfire.com/scary/redcom/bug.rm

Here are four pictures, next to a penny, with the last picture being of the rarer sex. Flipped over so can see legs underneath. Diff sex, looks smaller coz of camera distance, but is twice as long, conical, and with hairs on tail
Thx in advance for your help.
Luis.

Hi Luis,
Only one of your photos arrived, actually four copies of the same image. Based more on your description than your blurry photo, it seems you have Carpet Beetle larvae

Letter 4 – Carpet Beetle Larva

what is this bug?
1/4″ in length. many legs on each side. somewhat hairy. has a wormlike head that wiggles around, the back end almost looks like wings creeping out from under a jacket. the jacket is light oolored belt around the midsection and the ends are darker. the tummy of the bug is all light colored.

they had no visible antenna or tail (through a magnifying glass)…… 4 of these were on one sons wall in his bedroom. one more was sighted in an upstairs bedroom. they are very slow moving, in a slow wiggle sideways. when dropped in the carpet, they burrow down into it. help. thanks.
Jean

Hi Jean,
You have a Carpet Beetle Larva, one of the Dermestid Beetles which eat wool and other natural fibers as well as doing major damage to museum collections.

Letter 5 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Featherlike bug
Recently, i noticed some tiny bugs on a clean towel that i picked up from our bedroom wardrobe. After that, i examined all the clothes in our bedroom closet and discovered quite a lot of these bugs, most of them on clothes made from wool or cotton.

It was almost impossible to get rid of them because they were hardly seen, so we took all of our clothes to the laundry. Their size is from 2 mm up to 7 mm that is 1/12″ up to 1/4″ inches (so i guess that the guy on the photo must be their… king).

Later on that day, i discovered their… kingdom. A knitted carpet of wool, carefully stored in the wardrobe closet but not inspected for a long time, was covered all over of these bugs, so much that you couldn’t make out the drawing on it.

Can you please tell me, what’s that bug and what caused the presence of it? Finally, is there a way to prevent this situation to the future?
Thanks for your help.
Babis, Greece

Dear Babis,
There is a reason your insect was discovered in the carpet. It is the larval form of a Carpet Beetle, Family Dermestidae. By now you must realize that they will destroy a fine wool rug that is being stored.

They will also infest wool clothing, get into suede and leather, ande they are responsible for horrific damage to museum collections.

Letter 6 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Carpet beetle larva from MN
Hello Daniel and Lisa.
Thanks to your site, which I visit almost daily now, I was able to identify a carpet beetle larva when I first saw it last year crawling up the wall in my room. Now I found another one this year in the same place and time, and now I have a better camera for getting a decent picture of it.

I noticed that you made it the Bug of the Month for April, and the picture you have up there is a little blurry, so I thought you might like some clearer images. I’m still not sure of the species of this one though. I live in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
Joel

Hi Joel,
Thanks for providing us with a sharper and more current image of a Carpet Beetle Larva. We scoured the archives for the one we originally posted in the Bug of the Month for April 2008 posting.

Letter 7 – Carpet Beetles

can you help me identify these bugs?
Hello,
I found these bugs in one of our storage units. Can you tell me what they are? I attached a photo. thank you!
Dennis

Hi Dennis,
You have an Anthrenus Carpet Beetle infestation. Adult Carpet Beetles feed on pollen, and are usually noticed by homemakers when the congregate on windowsills in an attempt to reach the outside world. The larval form is the phase that does the damage.

These fuzzy larvae feed on wool, feathers, fur and other animal products. They can do major damage in museum collections. Adult Carpet Beetles reach a length of about 4 mm. Your beetles look like Anthrenus verbasci, the Varied Carpet Beetle.

Letter 8 – Carpet Beetle


You have a great site. Thank you for providing a picture of an Anthrenus Carpet Beetle. I will now be able to put a name to pictures that I posted on chaindropz blogspot.
Thanks again
chaindropz

Hi Chaindropz,
Thanks for sending your photo. We have been getting numerous reports about Carpet Beetles lately.

Letter 9 – Two species of Carpet Beetles

What is its common & scientific nam
These bugs were found in Hamilton Co., OH 2nd last
week of April, 2008 in my garden on Sweet Woodruff & are very tiny. Can you please ID. Thank you.
Mary Jo White

Hi Mary Jo,
Your photo shows two species of Carpet Beetles in their typical adult environment. Many homemakers find adult Carpet Beetles in the spring on the windowsills of their homes. The larvae feed on natural fibers like wool carpet, pet hair and other similar items found in the home. Adults feed on pollen.

The upper beetles (please note that we rotated your photo for our website) are of the Buffalo Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus scrophulariae, one of the showier members of the genus because of the red coloration.

The smaller, drabber beetle is also in the genus Anthrenus, but we are not certain of the species. You can check possibilities on BugGuide. The Carpet Beetle was our featured Bug of the Month for April 2008.

Letter 10 – Carpet Beetle

Bugs found in apartment
January 24, 2010
Hi Bugman,
I found two bugs near the crown molding on the floor of my apartment. I’ve attached pictures of the one. It is black on top with a beige sort of stripe, with a few white dots on it. The other bug I found had part of the beige stripe, but it was not as distinct.
Thanks, Phils Fan
PA

Carpet Beetle

Dear Phils Fan,
This is a Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus pimpinellae.  We identified it on BugGuide where it is stated that it has a cosmopolitan distribution.  The genus page on BugGuide states:  “Season Adults mainly occurr in spring, but may be found the whole year round in heated rooms.


Food Adults feed pollen on flowers; larvae feed keratine and chitine, and may cause considerable damage on wool, fur, feathers, and natural history collections.

Letter 11 – Carpet Beetle

Concerned a little
February 18, 2010
Hi,
I’m not a bug enthusiast by any means so I have no idea what this bug is. It seems to look like a minute lady bug-like insect. Colors seem speckled with gray and dark red/brown with wings. Tentacles too.

It must have fallen on to me at some point during the day as it fell out of my hair when I rinsed my face. It fell into the sink. I have no idea how it got on to me. That day I was painting indoors and had a hat on most of the day except when I ran out, but was painting a very old dirty room, maybe it was in there.

this was 2 days ago.
It was below freezing.
This couldn’t carry a disease right?
Thanks for your help
nycreptile
NY/CT

Carpet Beetle

Dear nycreptile,
This is a Carpet Beetle in the genus Anthrenus, a common household insect.  It does not carry disease, but they may cause considerable damage to wool, fur, feathers and natural history collections.

Letter 12 – Carpet Beetle, we suppose

Small beetle
Location: Montreal, Quebec
January 29, 2011 7:06 pm
Dear Bugman!
With the bedbug craze currently going on I am very worried because I found this tiny bug on my living room sofa. Please let me know what it is!
Thanks
Signature: Itchy and Scratchy

Probably Carpet Beetle

Hi Itchy and Scratchy,
Rest assured that this is not a Bed Bug.  It appears to be one of the Carpet Beetles in the family Dermestidae.  You can view examples of Carpet Beetles on BugGuide

Carpet Beetles are considered to be unwanted household pests and many species, because they feed on natural fibers like wool and feathers, can do considerable damage to museum collections as well as household items.

Letter 13 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Bugs in storage closet
Location: Columbia maryland
November 6, 2012 11:59 am
These are in my storage closet and I dnt know what it is
Signature: Ciera

Carpet Beetle Larva

Hi Ciera,
This is the exuvia or cast off skin of a Carpet Beetle Larva.  Carpet Beetles are common household pests with larvae that feed on a variety of organic items in the home.

Letter 14 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Found this on bed
Location: California
November 19, 2012 4:18 am
Laid down to go to sleep and felt this on my neck as if it landed there. Turned on the light and this was there.
I may have found shells of this creature around before but this is the first time I’ve seen one.
What is it?
Signature: T

Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear T,
This is the larva of a Carpet Beetle, a common household pest.

Letter 15 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Everywhere
Location: Ft. Worth Texas
November 28, 2012 8:00 pm
Have these all around my house…every room. Sometimes they’re alive and sometimes dead by the time I see them. Tried to take pics of front and back but they’re so tiny it may be difficult to see details. They’re always this size…have never seen any larger or smaller.
Signature: Stacy in Ft. worth

Carpet Beetle Larva

Hi Stacey,
This is a Carpet Beetle larva and it is a common household pest.  They feed on all types of organic matter around the home, including pet fur and the fibers of wool carpets and upholstery.  Try vacuuming more often as a means of control.

Letter 16 – Carpet Beetle

Subject: help!! I’m concernrd this may be a bedbug!!!
Location: princeton bc
December 5, 2012 10:17 pm
I was at my friends house playing with their 5 month old baby when I noticed this bug crawling up his arm. I flicked it on to the carpet and immediately took a picture and squished it . My dad is suspecting a bedbug but could it be a carpet Beetle???? Please help!!
Signature: Jennifer

Carpet Beetle

Hi Jennifer,
If that rug is wool, it might be the reason your friend has Carpet Beetles, a common household pest.

Letter 17 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: bug id
Location: california
October 31, 2013 12:38 am
This bug was found in a blanket in the closet. Any ideas?
Signature: AngelSixx

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear AngelSixx,
This is a Carpet Beetle Larva, a common household pest.

Letter 18 – Variegated Carpet Beetle blamed for partner’s insensitivity

Subject: Unsual Bug
Location: Coastal San Diego
March 8, 2014 9:33 am
Dear Mr. Bug Man,
What kind of bug is this? It was found meandering across my mattress at approximately 8am PST this morning. It is very small, perhaps 1/8″ of an inch. I told my girlfriend it came from her and I wanted her tested. We are now broken up. I need your help to get her back.
PS. I didn’t kill it even though I wanted to. It did no good. She’s still really mad at me.
Signature: BrokenupbyBug

Carpet Beetle blamed for relationship demise
Carpet Beetle blamed for relationship demise

Dear BrokenupbyBug,
We can understand your girlfriend’s reaction.  No girl wants to be told she has bugs.  This Varied Carpet Beetle is a common household pest.

Letter 19 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Bug ID
Location: Bedroom floor under the bed
March 27, 2014 11:50 am
Sorry I used wrong form. I found this bug in my bedroom. I have a live one in a box. He is about 1/4 inch long with little hairs on his back. 3 legs each side, to the front of his body. very dark and pale cream stripes. Lots of dicarded shell casings but he does not look like a bedbug. his body is quite rounded. Moves quite slowly in a concertina like movement.

I am being bitten and was looking for bedbugs. I have cleaned and smoked the room. Would be gratefull for your advise as I cannot find this little darling anywhere on the internet.

I should mention that we have just replaced our roof andall the stuff out of the loft came downstairs and we have been overseas in the last 6 months
Signature: Ann

Carpet Beetle Larva Sketch
Carpet Beetle Larva Sketch

Dear Ann,
Your sketch of this Carpet Beetle Larva is much better than your photograph.  Carpet Beetles are common household pests, but we do not believe it is responsible for the bites you are getting.

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Daniel,
Many thanks for your help. Have fumed and cleaned the room and will keep a vigilant watch for more offspring. Seen the doc and he says they are definately bites. I think they are scabies but he is not convinced as they are not between my fingers and are generally in groups of three.

No other family member is affected. They are quite nasty and it has taken antibiotics in addition to lyclear cream to calm them down. Still the mystery remains. I will try to make a donation to your organisation via paypal  Many Thanks Ann

Thank you for your generosity.

Letter 20 – Carpet Beetle

Subject: What Bug is this?
Location: In house
June 26, 2014 10:42 pm
I hope you can tell, it was very tiny. I tried to get a close-up with clear quality.
Signature: DeAndre

Carpet Beetle
Carpet Beetle

Hi DeAndre,
This is a Carpet Beetle, a common household pest.  The location field in our submission form should be used to provide city, state and country location which helps us narrow down our identification possibilities.

Letter 21 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Identify Bug
Location: Canada, Ontario
November 23, 2014 7:18 pm
Hello, I hope to hear back from you as i am a little panicked to exactly what this is. I woke up with some type of bite on my arm and then found this little sucker on my wall and want to know what it is, if its harmful, what happens if it bites stuff like that but i can find that out on my own i just really need to know what this bug is!! Thank you for reading this and i hope to hear from you soon 🙂
Signature: Robyn

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Robyn,
This is a Carpet Beetle Larva, a common household pest.  To the best of our knowledge, they do not bite, however we have received comments from people connecting Carpet Beetle Larvae to contact dermatitis and to asthma, but those claims have not substantiated by any medical data to our knowledge.

Letter 22 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: WEIRD BUG PLZ READ
Location: Alabama
January 15, 2015 3:16 pm
I found this bug on the wall of my bedroom twice. I was wondering what it was.
Signature: Thanks, Kayla

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Kayla,
We have been away from the office for a week and your email is the first we read.  Your subject line attracted our attention.  This is a common household pest known as a Carpet Beetle Larva

They will eat many organic substances in the home and they have adapted well to cohabitation with humans, though humans do not benefit from the relationship.  Adult Carpet Beetles feed on pollen, so they fly outside to mate and then return to the home to lay eggs.  Carpet Beetles in the imago stage are mostly observed by homemakers dying in windows.

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Letter 23 – Carpet Beetle

Subject: Spring Time Bug
Location: Fremont, CA
March 10, 2016 4:59 pm
5 years ago and again this month of March 2016, I found 2 and up 6 of these insects. They are 1/8″ long. I usually find them in a sofa downstairs, but I have also found them in an upstairs window. I mention the 2 occurrences, 5 years apart to indicate that the problem went away on its own initially, without treatment.

I have never found large quantities of the insect, but I am still concerned about what course of action I should take. The insects color makes them look different then bed bugs.
Signature: Greg M.

Carpet Beetle
Carpet Beetle

Hi Greg,
This is a Carpet Beetle, a common household pest, and we are quite amazed at your cleaning abilities if you have only found them twice in five years.

Letter 24 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Bed bug? Roach?
Location: Illinois
December 17, 2016 4:33 pm
Is this a bed bug?
Signature: Sox713

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Sox713,
Neither a Cockroach nor a Bed Bug, this Carpet Beetle larva is nonetheless considered a household pest that will eat many organic materials in the home.

Letter 25 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Beetle or moth larva?
Location: South eastern Washington State
January 31, 2017 6:18 am
Hi,
I’m so glad to have found this site!
I found this larva crawling on my pillow. One week earlier one was in my kids bedroom. Trying not to be grossed out! We are in the northwest but recently moved from the northeast. In our old house carpet beetles were coming in from outside attracted to wool carpets.

I’ve been meticulous about not spreading them to our new house. This new larva looks a little different but similar and I am trying not to freak out! Is it a beetle? Moth? I found larder beetle and warehouse beetle larva photos and am wondering if it could be one of those?
Signature: Beetle watcher

Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Beetle watcher,
This Carpet Beetle larva is a common household pest.

Letter 26 – Carpet Beetle

Subject: Indoor Springtime Beetles
Location: Stockton, California
March 29, 2017 2:38 pm
These pinhead-sized (or smaller) winged beetles appear in the spring inside my house. They are attracted to the windows and to light-colored fabric. They are slow-moving and nonevasive, and so they are easy to kill. They are appearing now, when temperatures are in the 70’s.

My guess is they are in a foodstuff of some kind in the house. They do not appear in overwhelming numbers, but they come every year consistently. I do not see them at other times of the year.
Signature: David Wallace

Carpet Beetle

Dear David,
Carpet Beetles like the one in your image feed on pollen, but the larvae are common household pests that will feed on a wide variety of organic items in the home.

Thanks! Now on to the tracking of the food source, which may or may not be in our pantry.

While they are considered an annoyance, sometimes their food source in not injurious.  They will feed on accumulated shed pet hair found on rugs and furniture.

Five cats in the house. Thanks for this excellent detective work.

Letter 27 – Carpet Beetles

Subject: Museum pest or not?
Location: Big Bend region of Texas (Fort Davis)
July 7, 2017 7:12 am
Greetings,
These beetles just showed up in our IPM traps in one of our furnished historic houses & we are trying to identify. Could these be varied carpet beetles? Staff here is divided on whether these are this dreaded museum pest.

In consulting various museum pest websites, these specimens do not exactly match the posted images but also look close enough to cause concern. They are quite small – 2-3mm and have mostly been caught at traps located at entrance/exit doors.

We found your website & hope you may be able to help. The pictures are the best ones we could take & hopefully, are clear enough to allow identification. Thank you.
Signature: Jennifer

Carpet Beetles

Dear Jennifer,
The quality of your image is quite poor, but these are unmistakably Carpet Beetles.

Letter 28 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject:  Weird bug found in bedroom during winter
Geographic location of the bug:  Florida
Date: 12/25/2018
Time: 07:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We keep getting these bugs in only one of the bedrooms but only during winter. They are mostly seen at the window and on the bed but we don’t know where they come in from.
How you want your letter signed:  Micheal

Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Micheal,
This is a Carpet Beetle larva, a common household pest that feeds on many organic materials in the home, including organic fibers like wool and debris like shed pet hair.

Letter 29 – Carpet Beetle

Subject:  found on couch
Geographic location of the bug:  Connecticut
Date: 12/19/2018
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this on our couch. It appears to have wings but has not flown.
How you want your letter signed:  nicely?

Varied Carpet Beetle

This is a Carpet Beetle, probably a Varied Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus verbasci, and it is a common Household Pest.  Though adults feed on pollen and will not do any damage in the home, the larvae of Carpet Beetles will feed on a wide variety of organic materials in the home, including shed pet hair.  While they are mostly just a nuisance, they will also feed on woolen fibers found in carpets and upholstery.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

17 thoughts on “Carpet Beetle Life Cycle: Understanding and Managing These Intruders”

  1. I found one of those today and coincidentally named it the carpet bug because that is where I found it and I have never seen a bug like that before especially in the carpet.

    Reply
  2. This picute is idnetical to the bugs I have foudn lately in my home. What is a natural non pesticide way to get rid of them. We recently got a hamster–is that what is bringing them out in full force? We find 1-2 every coupe of weeks (today I found 3) but hvanet seen any since 2 weeks ago.
    I also have a lizard and a guinea pig. These are usually on my window sill and they were on top of my bed cover tonight (no it was NOT a bed bug, definitely 1 carpet beetle)
    Will vacuuming, steam cleaning and then some DE help do the tricK?

    Reply
  3. I have looked all over the web & the closest image I’ve found is of the carpet beetle larva but I have them in my kitchen on the counter & in the lower cabinets little fuzzy gnat sized worms that are dark brown or black with tan stripes can you tell if thats what they are I couldnt get a clear pic my camera isnt good enough to get it clear since their so small.

    Reply
  4. Hello,
    Debris from carpet beetles has been reported to cause welts that look like insect bites. Supposedly, these are allergic reaction and not bites!

    Marcia Anderson has written a nice essay on the EPA blog about this, and it is also referenced in the Wikipedia article on Carpet Beetles.

    I have both an infestation of carpet beetles, and hives, about 2cm in diameter, that last a few days and are very itchy.

    The good news is that getting rid of the symptoms of carpet beetle allergy, should be as simple as washing bedding and vaccuming thoroughly. MUCH easier, and less expensive, than bed bug treatments. I’m going to try thorough cleaning (along with a carbon-dioxide bug trap) to see whether it fixes my problem.

    Kind regards,

    Reply
  5. Hello,
    Debris from carpet beetles has been reported to cause welts that look like insect bites. Supposedly, these are allergic reaction and not bites!

    Marcia Anderson has written a nice essay on the EPA blog about this, and it is also referenced in the Wikipedia article on Carpet Beetles.

    I have both an infestation of carpet beetles, and hives, about 2cm in diameter, that last a few days and are very itchy.

    The good news is that getting rid of the symptoms of carpet beetle allergy, should be as simple as washing bedding and vaccuming thoroughly. MUCH easier, and less expensive, than bed bug treatments. I’m going to try thorough cleaning (along with a carbon-dioxide bug trap) to see whether it fixes my problem.

    Kind regards,

    Reply
  6. I have these bugs in my window sill. Its March, still Winter and I have a lot of them in my window sill(just in one part of the house) However I saw one today on my bed. I have vacuumed my room, but not the room they are in. I also vacuumed the window sill where they are. Should I empty my vacuum bag?

    Thanks
    Sarena Harvey

    Reply
    • More importantly than emptying the vacuum bag is to find where the larvae are. Adult Carpet Beetles are often found in windows because they are trying to get outside as they feed on pollen. Only the larvae feed on organic material in the home.

      Reply
  7. I have these bugs in my window sill. Its March, still Winter and I have a lot of them in my window sill(just in one part of the house) However I saw one today on my bed. I have vacuumed my room, but not the room they are in. I also vacuumed the window sill where they are. Should I empty my vacuum bag?

    Thanks
    Sarena Harvey

    Reply
  8. This is surprising to me. I came across this looking to purchase some Sweet Woodruff due to a carpet beetle infestation. I have heard from several sources that they will stay away from areas where you put dried Sweet Woodruff and crush it and put it on or under the carpets, and leave it in sachets around the home. I was thrilled to have finally have found a healthy alternative, but am disheartened seeing that picture, particularly since the ones I see around here look similar to that picture. Maybe it’s only dried Woodruff they dislike? Here’s hoping.

    Reply
  9. Angela, I am in the same boat as u and literally JUST today bought the plant, finally. I’m very disappointed 2 see them feeding off of the very plant purported 2 repel them :O/ If anyone can explain findings of how/why folks say this deters the beetles, I’m all eyes/ears! Thank u!

    Reply
  10. Thank you so much for the reply.

    I was afraid of that.
    Any special advice (from anyone out there) for keeping them out of the house? I know cleaning is key. Im so exhausted from finding and getting rid of these guys.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  11. Thank you so much for the reply.

    I was afraid of that.
    Any special advice (from anyone out there) for keeping them out of the house? I know cleaning is key. Im so exhausted from finding and getting rid of these guys.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  12. Hi there,
    I have been trying to identity of a bug I found walking across my kitchen floor. This bug may be about an inch long. The body is green with multi colored phases around its full length but spaced down its body, No tentacles front or back. The face is black. When I tapped it took off 3x the speed on short about 16 legs and feet. He had a straight body thinner than a pencil, Does anyone know what it is?

    Reply
  13. Hi there,
    I have been trying to identity of a bug I found walking across my kitchen floor. This bug may be about an inch long. The body is green with multi colored phases around its full length but spaced down its body, No tentacles front or back. The face is black. When I tapped it took off 3x the speed on short about 16 legs and feet. He had a straight body thinner than a pencil, Does anyone know what it is?

    Reply
    • If it’s got that many legs, I’m going to guess you’ve got a house centipede on your hands…or perhaps some sort of caterpillar, given that you say there aren’t any protruding antennae or “tentacles” front or back.

      Reply
  14. This particular type of carpet beetle larva grows into the Variegated Carpet Beetle. (I call them “little fatsos”, because these larvae are so roly-poly in appearance.) There is another type that looks similar in shape to a silverfish and isn’t as obviously hairy which grows into the Black Carpet Beetle (though really it’s an incredibly dark brown).

    They can survive on organic materials if necessary, like pet hair, dead skin, and feather filaments, but they prefer dead insects or small creatures such as lizards, or even the remains of some types of food. They will even cannibalize each other from time to time. (I’ve been capturing and raising dermestid larvae for study purposes for a couple years now, so I’ve learned quite a bit from my populations.) They tend to live in dark, undisturbed sections of the house where food items tend to accumulate, so along baseboards, along edges of/underneath furniture, and even on tile if there’s sufficient food and cover. Amazingly, I’ve seen the larvae’s overall coloration shift a bit to better match their surroundings, one shed at a time.

    Reply

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