Carpet beetles can be a nuisance in any household, causing damage to clothing, carpets, and other items containing natural fibers.
These small insects can be hard to get rid of, but using natural methods rather than chemical pesticides is often a safer and more environmentally-friendly option.
One common method for tackling carpet beetles naturally is regular and thorough cleaning, which helps to eliminate their food sources.
Vacuuming carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces frequently will help to remove beetle larvae and eggs.
By keeping your home clean and free of debris, you make it less appealing to these unwelcome pests.
Identifying Carpet Beetles
Types of Carpet Beetles
There are several types of carpet beetles, but the most common ones you might encounter are:
- Varied carpet beetle: Tear-drop shaped larvae with rows of light brown hairs, primarily feed on accumulated lint and organic debris1.
- Furniture carpet beetle: Common pest of upholstered furniture, able to digest keratin found in animal hair and feathers2.
- Black carpet beetle: Oval-shaped adults, larvae are carrot-shaped, golden to dark brown3.
Black Carpet Beetle
|Varied Carpet Beetle
|Tear-drop, light brown hairs
|Lint, organic debris1
|Furniture Carpet Beetle
|Digest keratin, found in hair, feathers2
|Animal hair, feathers2
|Black Carpet Beetle
|Carrot-shaped, golden to dark brown3
Carpet beetles undergo a complete metamorphosis, which involves four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The length of the life cycle varies based on species and environmental factors.
Signs of Infestation
Some common signs of carpet beetle infestation include:
- Damaged fabrics, carpets or upholstery
- Shed skins or droppings near infested areas
- Adult beetles found near windows or light sources
Keep an eye out for these signs to address infestations early and prevent further damage.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles Naturally
Vacuuming and Cleaning
To get rid of carpet beetles, start by regularly vacuuming all areas of your home, focusing on places where beetles and their larvae might be present like carpets, upholstery, and cracks.
Make sure to clean out the vacuum cleaner each time. Also, wash fabrics in hot water to kill any remaining larvae.
Carpet Beetle Larvae
Diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe remedy for controlling carpet beetle infestations.
Simply dust a thin layer of it on areas where you’ve found beetles or their larvae.
Examples of Diatomaceous Earth benefits:
- Non-toxic for humans and pets
- Destroys the exoskeleton of the beetles
Another natural remedy to consider is boric acid, which can be sprinkled on carpets, upholstered furniture, and windowsills.
It’s effective in killing both adult beetles and larvae upon contact.
Pros and Cons of Boric Acid:
|Effective against adult beetles and larvae
|Can be harmful if ingested by humans or pets
|Easy to apply
|May discolor fabrics
Essential oils, such as clove oil and peppermint oil, can help to deter carpet beetles. Mix a few drops of the oil with water, and spray it on infested areas.
Characteristics of essential oils for carpet beetle control:
- Pleasant scent
- May need repeated application
Remember that a clean home is less likely to become infested with carpet beetles. Utilize these natural remedies to keep your home free of these unwanted pests.
Preventing Carpet Beetle Infestations
Sealing Your Home
To prevent carpet beetles from entering your home, make sure to:
- Seal cracks and crevices around windows and doors
- Use window screens and door sweeps
- Inspect and seal gaps around baseboards or pipes
Once your home is properly sealed, focus on protecting susceptible items like clothing, furniture, and natural fibers.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Keeping your home clean and well-maintained is crucial in preventing carpet beetle infestations:
- Vacuum regularly, especially around upholstered furniture, carpet edges, and baseboards
- Clean clothing, wool, and other natural fibers frequently
- Remove pet hair consistently
- Store clothing in sealed containers or garment bags
- Avoid leaving food exposed, which can attract carpet beetles and other pests like ants
By maintaining a clean home, you can eliminate potential hiding spots and food sources for carpet beetles.
Using Natural Repellents
Many natural repellents can help deter carpet beetles:
- Cedar oil: Effective in warding off carpet beetles and other insects
- Essential oils (e.g., lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint): Mix with water and spray on susceptible items or areas
- Mothballs: Effective, although the smell may be unpleasant for some people
|Natural and effective, deters multiple insect types
|May need to be reapplied regularly
|Pleasant scent, relatively natural
|Less effective, may need frequent reapplication
|Proven efficacy in repelling beetles
|Strong, unpleasant odor
Using natural repellents can provide an additional layer of protection against carpet beetles, helping maintain a beetle-free environment.
When to Call a Professional
Recognizing Severe Infestations
Carpet beetle infestations can range in severity. Here are some signs that indicate a severe infestation:
- Large numbers of adult beetles: If you continually spot adult carpet beetles around your home, it suggests a bigger problem.
- Extensive damage to fabrics and materials: If you notice damages to woolen items, furs, feathers, silk, book bindings, or dead insects, it’s a sign of carpet beetle larvae feeding.
- Larvae casings and fecal pellets: Shed skins and fecal pellets in dark areas of your home indicate a significant infestation.
Choosing a Pest Control Company
When dealing with a severe infestation, consider hiring a professional pest control company.
When deciding on a pest control company, also consider:
- Are they experienced in dealing with carpet beetle infestations?
- Do they offer organic pest control methods?
- How are their customer reviews?
Finally, weigh the pros and cons of each company and method to select the best fit for your needs.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Carpet Beetle
Subject: No idea what these are!
Geographic location of the bug: Maryland/DC
Time: 10:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello!
Yesterday I noticed a bunch of small black/brown and white striped insect on the inside of my windowsill. After I noticed them, I found some on my bed, on the clothes that were on the floor of my closet, and on my bedroom door. I have no idea what they are. I suspected they were bedbugs, but I don’t have any bites. I’ve tried looking online but haven’t yielded much information. Please help!
How you want your letter signed: Jumanah
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle. The larvae of Varied Carpet Beetles are common household pests that will feed on a wide variety of organic materials around the home. Adults Varied Carpet Beetles feed on pollen, and one the larvae mature, the adults try to get outside, which is why your initial sighting was on a windowsill.
Letter 2 – Carpet Beetle Larva
Location: Eastern PA
September 10, 2011 5:30 pm
Found several of these bugs alive, indoors, in Eastern Pennsylvania, today (middle of September). Sorry, I didn’t think to include something for scale. The thing is quite small– 1/4” to 1/2” range.
You have Carpet Beetle Larvae, common household pests with a cosmopolitan distribution. Here is a very similar looking Carpet Beetle from Iran. Try vacuuming more often and remove all pet hair.
Letter 3 – Possibly Black Carpet Beetle
Annual bug ID needed.
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
June 16, 2011 8:27 am
These little beetle-like bugs seem to appear annually in our urban Philadelphia home.
We often see them on their backs, seemingly unable to right themselves. They crawl around otherwise, and we’ve never seen them fly, so I don’t think their capable of flight.
They appear for a month or so, then we don’t see them again for a year.
Thanks for any info you can provide.
Signature: Phrantic in Philly
Dear Phrantic in Philly,
These annual household intruders resemble Black Carpet Beetles, but the photo quality is not ideal. It seems there is some discrepancy with the shape of the prothorax and the antennae, but we are not certain. We have requested assistance from Eric Eaton.
Meanwhile, you may read about Black Carpet Beetles on BugGuide. Black Carpet Beetles are sometimes called Fur Beetles because the larvae damage fur and hide objects, and they can do considerable damage to museum collections.
Letter 4 – Possibly Black Carpet Beetles
Subject: Bugs in bedding and carpet
Location: Lexington KY
July 27, 2014 9:52 am
Hello, I live in Kentucky and have recently noticed these bugs throughout my house mainly in my bedding and carpet. Can you help identify? We live in a newer home, about 6 years old and have hardwood throughout except for bedrooms and several area rugs. Are these bed bugs?
These are beetles, NOT Bed Bugs. There is not enough detail to give a conclusive identification, but they may be Black Carpet Beetles, Attagenus brunneus, which you may view on BugGuide.
Letter 5 – Carpet Beetle Larvae
Bed Bug or Carpet Beetle?
January 24, 2012 6:48 pm
Hi, I live in MD and started finding these little bugs in my carpet (never on my bed) in September. This is the lot I’ve collected since then, and never more than one at a time.
I do have itching/biting symptoms mainly at night but sometimes during the day at work, but have not found any bugs, feces, or blood stains on any part of my bed or surrounding furniture, after checking for months now.
Nor have I had any of the classic skin symptoms/reactions aside from the itching. So, I’d like to know exactly what I’m dealing with here. Appreciate any direction you can provide!
Signature: Cant Sleep Tight
Dear Cant Sleep Tight,
Try to get some rest. You do have Carpet Beetles and not Bed Bugs. While Carpet Beetles are considered household pests that will do damage to organic materials, they do not bite. The second individual from the left in your photo is an adult Carpet Beetle and the others are Larvae.
Letter 6 – Furniture Carpet Beetle and Larva
Wool eating caterpilar
Location: New York City
August 5, 2011 6:13 pm
Have these wool eaating caterpilars in my closets. What are they? Never seen any moths but occasionally see a small ladybug sized beetle which I suspect is the same animal.
Just to let you know that the caterpillar is about 1/8 inch long.
This is most certainly a Carpet Beetle and a Carpet Beetle Larva, and it very closely resembles a Varied Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus verbasci , however, the larva is too dark to be that species. It is highly unlikely that you would have the larvae of one species in your closet and the adult of another species, so we continued to research.
We learned upon reading about the Varied Carpet Beetle on BugGuide, that it looks very similar to the Furniture Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus flavipes, but alas, BugGuide has no photos of the Furniture Carpet Beetle. We did find a photograph on IPM images, that is credited to Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, that shows the Furniture Carpet Beetle and its Larva, and we believe they match your individuals.
Carpet Beetle Larvae do feed upon wool, though the adults feed on pollen. We did locate an awesome webpage entitled Urban Entomologywritten by Walter Ebeling that is on the UC Riverside Entomology website. Here is what it says about Carpet Beetles: “Four species of carpet beetles comprise not only the most important group of fabric pests, but also the group that is most difficult to control. The adults feed largely on pollen and nectar, and may enter homes in spring and early summer.
All damage (figure 200) is done by the larvae, which develop in dark, undisturbed locations. Unlike clothes moth larvae, they spin no webbing, but their hairy cast skins and their sandlike pellets (shown in the figure; often the color of the fabric eaten) are evidences of infestation. The cast skins look much like live larvae, and may give the casual observer the impression that there is a greater infestation than is actually present.
Pupation takes place in the last larval skin, and the adult may remain in the partially shed pupal skin for as long as 3 weeks. Evidence of a carpet beetle infestation may be the presence of the small, adult beetles flying to windows or larvae wandering from room to room. The adults resemble lady beetles in shape.
The source of a carpet beetle infestation is sometimes difficult to find. For example, one pest control operator treated an office building 3 times, each time failing to find the source of the beetles seen by the occupants. On the fourth attempt, he traced the beetles to a telephone cable in the wall, where the insects were discovered to be feeding on the insulation.”
The Urban Entomology page also states this, which supports our identification: “Mature larvae are darker than those of the varied carpet beetle, and are able to run swiftly.”
Wow, that was quick! Thanks!