Can Carpet Beetles Fly? Decoding the Myth for Homeowners

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Carpet beetles are common household pests known for causing damage to fabrics, fur, and feathers.

While the adult beetles themselves do not damage fabrics, it is their larvae that wreak havoc on materials made from animal fibers.

Surprisingly, adult carpet beetles can fly and are often attracted to light sources such as windows.

The ability of carpet beetles to fly enables them to enter homes through various openings like vents, windows, doors, and eaves.

Do Carpet Beetles Fly

Once inside, these intruders can spread throughout a living space, laying eggs and causing damage as their larvae feed on fabrics and other materials.

Although it may seem like a small detail, understanding that carpet beetles can fly is an essential factor in managing their presence and preventing infestations in your home.

Effective control measures include sealing entry points, regular cleaning, and monitoring for signs of their presence.

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Carpet Beetles Overview

Life Cycle of Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles undergo a complete metamorphosis with four stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Female carpet beetles lay around 100 eggs on various materials.

The larvae phase, which causes damage to fabrics and other materials, lasts for varying lengths of time depending on the species. For example, the black carpet beetle’s life cycle is 180 to 650 days.

Identifying Different Types

There are several common carpet beetle species:

  • Black carpet beetle: Adults are 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length, black with brown legs, and carrot-shaped larvae.
  • Varied carpet beetle: Adult beetles are small (3-5 millimeters or about an eighth of an inch), rounded, and have dark-colored or patterned wing covers. Larvae have alternating light and dark stripes with tiny hairs.
  • Furniture carpet beetle: Similar to varied carpet beetle, but with different patterns on their wings.

Comparison Table

SpeciesAdult SizeAppearance
Black carpet beetle1/8 to 1/4 inchBlack with brown legs, carrot-shaped larvae
Varied carpet beetle3-5 millimetersRounded, dark or patterned wing covers
Furniture carpet beetle3-5 millimetersSimilar to varied carpet beetle, different wing patterns

Features

  • Adult carpet beetles mainly feed on flower pollen and nectar outdoors
  • Larvae feed on fabrics, furs, and feathers, causing damage to various materials
  • Adult females lay around 100 eggs in their lifespan

Characteristics

  • Adults are small and often found near windows
  • Larvae cause significant damage and infestations
  • Complete life cycle occurs in about 180 to 650 days for black carpet beetle, varying for other species

Do Carpet Beetles Fly?

General Flying Abilities

Carpet beetles can indeed fly. The adult stage of these insects is capable of flight, while the larval stage cannot.

Adult carpet beetles typically feed outdoors on pollen, leaving the larvae to cause damage to fabrics and animal fibers1.

Attraction to Lights

Adult carpet beetles are known to be attracted to lights and windows1. This attraction can lead them to enter homes through open windows and doors.

Once inside, they can lay eggs and reproduce, resulting in infestations.

To minimize the risk of carpet beetles entering your home:

  • Keep doors and windows closed or install screens
  • Use yellow or sodium vapor bulbs for outdoor lighting, as they are less attractive to insects2

In summary, carpet beetles can fly, which makes it easier for them to enter homes and potentially cause damage.

Their attraction to lights and windows can lead them to infiltrate your living spaces, so taking preventative measures is essential.

Infestations and Damage

Materials Carpet Beetles Target

Carpet beetles are known to cause damage to a variety of materials, including:

  • Wool: Clothing and rugs made of wool are common targets.
  • Silk: Delicate silk fabrics are also at risk.
  • Natural fibers: Other organic materials, such as cotton, can be affected.
  • Animal products: Items made from feathers, fur, or leather are vulnerable.
  • Furniture: Upholstered furniture containing natural fibers can be damaged.
  • Food: Stored food products, such as grains, are susceptible to infestation.
  • Dead insects/Plants: Beetle larvae feed on dead insects and even pollen from plants.

Recognizing the Signs

Physical evidence: Keep an eye out for small, round beetles with patterned wing covers. The larvae are most damaging and have a tapered body with alternating light and dark stripes.

Damaged items: Look for irregular holes or chew marks on affected materials.

The following table compares the signs of infestation and damage from carpet beetles to other fabric pests such as clothes moths:

PestSigns of InfestationDamage to Materials
Carpet Beetles (larvae)Small, patterned beetles; striped, hairy larvaeHoles, chew marks in wool, silk, natural fibers, animal products, and furniture
Clothes Moths (larvae)Small, pale-colored moths; white, caterpillar-like larvaeHoles in natural fabrics, fur, leather, and synthetic fibers

Prevention and Control

Household Cleaning

One effective way to prevent carpet beetles is by maintaining cleanliness in your home.

Regular vacuuming, especially in areas where animal fibers or pet hair accumulate, can help remove carpet beetle larvae.

Steam cleaning can also be beneficial, as it kills larvae with high heat.

Another essential aspect of household cleaning is inspecting and sanitizing potential breeding sites, like closets or areas where you store fabrics.

Washing clothes and bedding regularly can also keep carpet beetles at bay.

Black carpet beetle

Sealing Entry Points

Carpet beetles can enter your home through small gaps or cracks.

To prevent their entry, inspect your home for any openings and seal them with caulking or weather stripping.

This can be done around doors, windows, and other potential entry points.

If you are still having issues with carpet beetles you can call your local pest company.

Conclusion

Carpet beetles, especially their larvae, can cause significant damage to various materials in homes.

Adult beetles can fly and are attracted to light, which often leads them indoors.

Preventing infestation involves regular cleaning, sealing entry points, and possibly seeking professional pest control.

Identifying the types of carpet beetles and recognizing the signs of infestation are essential for managing these pests effectively.

Footnotes

  1. Carpet Beetles – UMD Extension 2
  2. Carpet Beetles – Entomology

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about carrpet beetles. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Carpet Beetle Larvae found among hunting equipment

Subject: Bug
Location: South Central Indiana
October 26, 2013 12:55 pm
We found these bugs in some hunting equipment. I believe they came from a pair of antlers with part of the skull and skin still attached. Can you tell us what they are?
Signature: Bugged

Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet Beetle Larvae

Dear Bugged,
These are the larvae of Carpet Beetles in the family Dermestidae.  Beetle larvae in this family will eat a wide variety of organic materials, including fur, feathers and wool.  Dermestid Beetles are responsible for major losses to museum specimens including taxidermy displays.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Letter 2 – Asian Carpet Beetle, we believe

Subject: Can’t find this bug online anywhere
Location: Western West Virginia
April 11, 2016 3:02 pm
I have found several of these bugs in my bedroom. They appear to have wings and/or are able to jump. I’m not sure which. They may bite or that may be entirely psychological on my part. They are small and oval. About the size of a ball point pen head brown-black with black spots. Usually find them one at a time and haven’t been able to find their nest if they have one or any larva. Please help. Thank you.
Signature: Katelyn

Possibly Asian Carpet Beetle
Possibly Asian Carpet Beetle

Dear Katelyn,
At first we thought this might be a Varied Carpet Beetle, a species we have posted to our site eight times since the beginning of March, but when we reread your written description, we realized it is a smaller species, possibly the Asian Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus coloratus, which according to BugGuide is 1.5–2.5 mm. while the larger Varied Carpet Beetle is 1.7-3.5 mm by BugGuide‘s reckoning.  Carpet Beetles in general are among out Top 10 identification requests.

Letter 3 – Carpet Beetle Larva

Subject: Big? Larvae?
Location: Philadelphia
November 27, 2016 6:27 pm
Hello
I used to see a random one or two of these in my bathroom and recently have been finding them in the kitchen working thier way to dropped dry catfood
Signature: LK

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear LK,
This is a Carpet Beetle larva, a common household pest that will eat many organic materials in the home, including shed pet hair and natural fibers in carpets like wool.

Letter 4 – Carpet Beetles

Subject: Please don’t say it’s bed bugs
Location: On a blanket on my bed
March 11, 2013 7:29 pm
I have only seen 3 of these bugs, these two at the same time. Found on my bed so of course I assumed bed bugs. Doesn’t look like pictures of them though. It was very small about half the length of a grain of rice. Black and brown.
Signature: LR

Carpet Beetles
Carpet Beetles

Dear LR,
You have Carpet Beetles, not Bed Bugs.

Letter 5 – Possibly a Carpet Beetle or maybe a Spider Beetle

What is this bug?
Location: New York City
March 30, 2011 8:30 pm
I have found two in my apartment in the past week crawling on the walls. I know this is certainly not a bed bug. It has a large back section with a lump of sorts. Dark brown to black. When killed it makes a cracking sound or small pop.
Signature: Daniel H

Might this be a Carpet Beetle or Spider Beetle?

Dear Daniel,
A properly exposed and carefully focused image of high resolution is very helpful when it comes to proper identification.  The image you have supplied has none of those qualities, and if this image was submitted by one of our students of photography, that student would not receive a passing grade for the assignment.  An exact identification is nearly impossible in this case.  When the photos are lacking, often the information provided in an email can assist us in an identification.  Many insects make unique sounds that can also be used toward an identification, but most bugs will crack or pop upon being smashed so that auditory description is not much help either.  Since it is small and has been found indoors, we suspect this is most likely either a Carpet Beetle or a  Spider Beetle and you may find some excellent images of both in our archives.

Dear Daniel-
Yes, upon further inspection it appears it is a spider beelte.  I will try to take a better shot next time.  Thanks you for taking time out to help me.
Daniel

Letter 6 – Carpet Beetle

gnat or what?
Can you identify the pesty, tiny, flying insect in the attached picture? Is it some type of gnat? Our house has been invaded by these bothersome creatures. They don’t seem to bite, but like to fly around my face and the lamps. It is smaller than the lead of the pencil in the picture. It has stripes on the top side is is solid dark grayish color on the underside. Thank you for any help you can give us.
Kathe

Hi Kathe,
You have an infestation of Dermestid Beetles, probably one of the Anthrenus Carpet Beetles. These miniscule beetles are very destructive to museum collections including insect collections.

Letter 7 – Anthrenus Carpet Beetle

micro beetle
thanks for the past questions. i got a new bug for you.. whats this tiny micro beetle.
Charles

Hi Charles,
We thought this was a species of Carpet Beetle, and we have seen them on our squash blossoms. We checked with Eric Eaton and here is his response. “Ah, a carpet beetle in the genus Anthrenus! Please keep it away from my insect collection:-) You are correct that, outdoors, many species in the genus pollinate flowers in their search for pollen to eat. Eric” The larvae are destructive to collections and natural fibers.

Authors

  • Bugman

    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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts
Tags: Carpet Beetle

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • vpack1810@msn.com
    May 6, 2013 7:44 am

    What can be done about them?

    Reply
  • I keep finding these in my curtains… They really freaked me out until I read this. Bugs that don’t bite don’t bother me much. Except ants. Because creepypasta.

    Reply

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