Varied Carpet Beetle: Characteristics and Identification Made Simple

Varied carpet beetles are small but intriguing insects with a wide range of characteristics. These beetles are often found in homes, warehouses, and museums, where they can be a pest to stored organic products source. Originally from Europe, Asia, and North Africa, they have made their way to North America around 1850, giving them a virtually worldwide distribution source.

Identifying varied carpet beetles can be a bit tricky, as they are small insects that can easily go unnoticed. Adult beetles measure about 3-5 millimeters in length and have dark-colored or patterned wing covers source. The larvae are similarly sized with a tapered body, featuring alternating light and dark stripes and are covered with tiny hairs that can be puffed up source.

Understanding the characteristics and identification methods for varied carpet beetles can aid in effectively managing them in your home. In the next sections, we will explore their life cycle, feeding habits, and control measures, helping you better protect your belongings and maintain a beetle-free environment.

Varied Carpet Beetle Overview

Identification and Size

The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is a tiny insect that can wreak havoc on your home textiles. Adults are small, measuring between 3-5 millimeters or about an eighth of an inch in length 1. The larvae are similarly sized and have a tapered body, which makes them easily distinguishable from adult beetles 2.

Color and Shape

Adult varied carpet beetles have dark-colored or patterned wing covers, depending on the species 1. The larvae feature alternating light and dark stripes and are covered in tiny hairs that can puff up if disturbed 1. The shape of adult beetles is rounded, while the larvae have a narrower head end and a wider tail end 3.

Habitat and Distribution

Varied carpet beetles can be found in homes, museums, and warehouses. Their preferred habitats include areas with natural fibers and dry organic materials 4. These little pests are commonly found in carpets, upholstered furniture, and stored textiles. Their distribution is widespread, and they can be found in various regions around the world 5.

In conclusion, the varied carpet beetle is a small but destructive pest that can infest textiles and organic materials in your home. Being aware of their appearance and typical habitats can help you identify and address an infestation before it becomes a major problem.

Life Cycle of Varied Carpet Beetles

Eggs to Pupa

The life cycle of varied carpet beetles begins with the female laying tiny, pale yellow eggs. Over time, these eggs hatch into larvae, which are often tear-drop shaped and covered in light brown hairs. These larvae are known to feed on various organic materials, such as lint, pet hair, and dead insects1. You can generally find them behind furniture or along baseboards in homes, scavenging for food and growing as they consume their surroundings.

As the larvae continue to grow and develop, they undergo multiple molts. Eventually, they enter the pupal stage, during which their exoskeleton hardens and they begin to transition into adults. Depending on the environment and temperature, the duration of this stage can vary, making the overall life cycle last anywhere from several months to a couple of years2.

Pupa to Adults

Once the varied carpet beetle larvae complete the pupal stage, they emerge as fully formed adults. Measuring about 1/10 inch long, these black beetles can have an irregular pattern of white, brown, and dark yellow scales on their wing covers3. However, it’s worth noting that older adults may lose these scales over time, resulting in solid black or brown coloring instead.

These adult beetles go through a circannual cycle, often experiencing three to four generations per year4. The variations in temperature and living conditions can have a significant impact on the length of the life cycle of these insects. As you encounter varied carpet beetles in your home, it’s important to be aware of their life cycle stages in order to effectively manage and prevent infestations.

Feeding Habits and Diet

Indoor Diet

Varied carpet beetles are known for their ability to feed on a wide range of materials found indoors. They primarily consume materials of animal origin, such as:

  • Dead insects: They are attracted to insect carcasses, particularly those of other beetles.
  • Hair and fur: They can feed on pet hair, lint, and other types of hair found around your home.
  • Fabrics: Beetles are known to infest carpets, upholstery, and clothing, especially if they are made of natural fibers like wool or silk.
  • Scales and feathers: These insects are also attracted to materials from birds, such as feathers and shed scales.

If you notice damage to woolens, carpets, and furniture, it could be the work of varied carpet beetles or clothes moths. Regular cleaning and maintaining your home can help reduce the chances of an infestation.

Outdoor Diet

Varied carpet beetles are not limited to indoor environments. They also have some preferences for food sources outdoors. Some common dietary preferences include:

  • Pollen and nectar: Adult beetles often feed on pollen from flowers and drink nectar to obtain nutrients.
  • Bird nests: They can infest bird nests due to the presence of feathers, fur, and other materials that they can feed on.
  • Insect nests or carcasses: Outdoor spaces can harbor various insects and their remains, which can serve as a food source for these beetles.

To minimize the risk of attracting carpet beetles to your property, ensure that your outdoor space is well-maintained and free of any potential food sources. Regularly clean bird nests, dead insects, and other debris to prevent them from infesting your home.

In conclusion, varied carpet beetles have a diverse diet both indoors and outdoors. By understanding their feeding habits and taking preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of dealing with these pests in your home.

Infestation and Damage

Signs of Infestation

When looking for signs of a Varied Carpet Beetle infestation, you should search for these indicators:

  • Adult beetles flying near windows or caught in spider webs
  • Holes, frayed edges, or bare patches on carpets, wool, or other natural fabrics
  • Shed skins and fecal pellets around infested areas

It’s important to regularly inspect your carpets, furniture, and other belongings for signs of damage caused by these beetles.

Types of Damage

Carpet beetles can cause damage to a variety of materials in your home. Here are some examples:

  • Carpets and rugs: Beetles chew holes, creating unsightly bare spots in natural fiber carpets.
  • Wool clothing and blankets: Holes and worn edges can be found on wool items.
  • Furniture and upholstery: Damage can occur to both natural fabrics like silk or leather and synthetic fabrics.
  • Felt, lint, and other debris: Beetles feed on organic debris hidden behind or under furniture and along baseboards.

To protect your belongings, it’s essential to eliminate accumulations of lint, hair, dead insects, and other debris that serve as food for carpet beetles.

Keep in mind that although synthetic fabrics are not the primary food source for carpet beetles, they can still be damaged as beetles search for more preferred materials.

By staying vigilant and addressing any signs of infestation, you’ll be able to minimize the damage caused by varied carpet beetles in your home.

Prevention and Control

Cleaning and Vacuuming

One of the easiest ways to prevent and control Varied Carpet Beetles is through regular cleaning and vacuuming. It’s crucial to keep areas like attics, baseboards, and cracks free from dust and debris.

For optimal results, consider these practices:

  • Vacuum furniture, carpets, and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Make sure to clean food crumbs and pet hair.
  • Regularly dry clean or wash your clothes and fabrics to remove potential larvae.

Being vigilant about your home’s cleanliness can make a significant difference in preventing a carpet beetle infestation.

Effective Insecticides

In some cases, insecticides might be needed to control a more severe carpet beetle problem. Here are some tips on using insecticides:

  • Apply them in crevices, cracks, and areas where carpet beetles are known to reside.
  • Only use insecticides that are labeled safe for indoor use.
  • Always follow the label instructions and safety guidelines.

However, you should note that insecticides specifically targeting Varied Carpet Beetles are typically less effective on the larvae compared to adult beetles. Also, remember that chemicals should not be your first option; always try regular cleaning and vacuuming first.

By consistently practicing good sanitation and employing appropriate measures like vacuuming and using insecticides when needed, you can effectively prevent and control Varied Carpet Beetle infestations in your home.

Comparison with Similar Species

When trying to identify the Varied Carpet Beetle, it’s helpful to be aware of some similar species. Here, we’ll compare it with the Black Carpet Beetle, Brown Carpet Beetle, Fur Beetle, and Bed Bugs. We’ll focus on differences in their head, legs, and abdomen characteristics.

First, let’s talk about the Black Carpet Beetle. You’ll notice that they are larger than Varied Carpet Beetles. Key differences include:

  • Shiny black, slightly elongated body.
  • Long, thin legs.

The Brown Carpet Beetle is another species to be aware of:

  • Dark brown, round body.
  • Short, sturdy legs.

Now, let’s consider the Fur Beetle:

  • Round, black body with a white spot on each wing casing.
  • Shorter legs compared to Black Carpet Beetles.

Finally, Bed Bugs can be mistaken for carpet beetles, but some distinctions set them apart:

  • Oval-shaped, wingless body.
  • Reddish-brown color.

Here’s a comparison table to make it easier to spot the differences:

Species Body Shape Color Legs Abdomen
Varied Carpet Beetle Round Brown with white, yellow, and black Short
Black Carpet Beetle Elongated oval Black Thin, long
Brown Carpet Beetle Round Dark brown Short
Fur Beetle Round Black with white spots Short
Bed Bugs Oval Reddish-brown Wingless

In summary, when identifying the Varied Carpet Beetle, look out for its round body, distinct color patterns, and short legs. Be sure to compare these features with other similar species, such as the Black Carpet Beetle, Brown Carpet Beetle, Fur Beetle, and Bed Bugs, before reaching a conclusion. Good luck with your beetle identification efforts!

Impact and Role in Ecosystem

As a Domestic Pest

The Varied Carpet Beetle, scientifically known as Attagenus pellio, is a common domestic pest. You might find them in your home where they feed on a variety of materials, including carpets, clothing, and wool. Here are some characteristics to help you identify them:

  • Adult beetles: 1/10 to 1/8 inch long, nearly round, and gray to black1
  • Larvae: Elongated, oval, reddish-brown, about 1/4 inch long, covered with many brownish-black hairs1

In your home, these pests can cause considerable damage to carpets, upholstery, clothing, and any other fabric-based items. If you come across an infestation, it’s essential to address it promptly.

As a Museum Pest

Museum pests, such as the Varied Carpet Beetle, can be a severe threat to natural history collections. The larvae feed on organic materials, such as hides, feathers, and insect collections. In this context, they can cause significant damage to precious specimens and artifacts, making pest management a top priority for museums.

Predators and Threats

Despite their status as pests, Varied Carpet Beetles have their fair share of predators and threats in the ecosystem. They are prey to several insects, birds, and small mammals in North America. Some common predators include:

  • House Sparrows
  • Starlings
  • Ladybird beetles
  • Centipedes

The presence of these predators can help control the population of Varied Carpet Beetles and limit infestations in domestic and museum settings. However, an integrated pest management plan is necessary to effectively deal with these pests in sensitive locations like homes and museums.

Unique Features and Characteristics

Varied carpet beetles are small insects with quite a few unique features. Their adult form is round and oval shaped, measuring about 3-5 millimeters in size. These beetles are often confused with moths due to their similar appearance. One contrasting trait is their distinct wing patterns which are characterized by a mix of white, brown, and yellow scales.

These beetles have some distinctive habits as well. They are drawn to lights, often found around windows. Varied carpet beetle larvae prefer to hide in dark, undisturbed areas, close to their food sources such as lint and pet hair.

Now let’s take a look at the larvae of carpet beetles. These creatures exhibit alternating light and dark stripes, covered with tiny hairs, also known as horns. Interestingly, the hairs can be ‘puffed up’ when the larvae feel threatened. Larvae are the main culprits causing damage to carpets, furniture, and fabrics.

In different regions, the varied carpet beetle undergoes diapause, which is a period of dormancy to escape unfavorable conditions like cold temperatures. This adaptation allows them to survive in various climates and environments.

To help you visualize these characteristics, these are some key features and traits:

  • Round, oval shape
  • Size: 3-5 millimeters
  • Drawn to lights, found around windows
  • Larvae with striped patterns and hairs (horns)
  • Adaptation: diapause

In summary, the varied carpet beetle has distinctive features, habits, and adaptive traits that make them unique in the insect world. Being aware of these characteristics can help you identify and manage their presence in your space.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/families-health/healthy-homes/finding-removing-variegated-carpet-beetles 2 3 4 5 6

  2. https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1181/ 2

  3. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-2103-10 2

  4. https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/carpet-beetles-5-549/ 2

  5. https://extensionentomology.tamu.edu/insects/carpet-beetles/

Reader Emails

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 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Insect ID
Location: Agoura Hills CA
March 5, 2013 5:32 pm
Greetings from Southern California. We see examples of this crawling on our walls from time to time. Here’s a photo I took today myself March 5, 2013. The finger is to indicate the scale. My kids are concerned, though I’m sure it’s harmless. Many thanks.
Signature: Alan

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Alan,
It seems that in recent weeks, a significant percentage of our insect identification requests have been for Carpet Beetles, including the Varied Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus verbasci, the species in your image.  Your photo is of a much higher quality than most of the requests we have received recently, so we are using your request as a feature on our site to inform our readers about Carpet Beetles.  Carpet Beetles are common household pests that feed on a variety of organic items in the home, including “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese)” according to BugGuide.  For clarification, only the larvae eat those items.  Adults, which are frequently found on windowsills, feed on pollen.

Letter 2 – Varied Carpet Beetles

 

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Los Angeles
April 4, 2013 10:23 am
Started seeing these little bugs in my carpet last night. I am a clean person, indoor only cat, I am distraught and couldn’t sleep last night knowing what I found. I inspected my cat but could not see anything in her fur and these don’t look like fleas anyway.
May you please tell me?

Varied Carpet Beetles
Varied Carpet Beetles

1) What they are?
2) How they got in my house?
3) How do I get rid of them?
4) How do I prevent this in the future?
Thanks!
Signature: Distraught

Varied Carpet Beetles, but are they mating???
Varied Carpet Beetles, but are they mating???

Dear Distraught,
1)  You have Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci.
2
They are very tiny and they might have entered the home through any small crack, crevice or gap that they found, either in the foundation, around a window or even when you were entering or leaving.  The adults feed on pollen and they might have gained entry into the house by you when you brought yourself or a loved one a bouquet of posies and didn’t notice them among the petals.  According to BugGuide, the larvae of Varied Carpet Beetles “feed [on] keratine and chitine, and may cause considerable damage on wool, fur, feathers, and natural history collections.“
3)  You need to find the larval food supply in your home.  They may even be feeding on items in the pantry.  Pet hair that accumulates might also be a larval food source.
4)  Most likely you cannot as they are a cosmopolitan household pest that is found in even the cleanest of homes.  Vacuum more frequently and that might help.
Two of you photos appear to be a mating pair, though that might be an illusion of the camera.

Varied Carpet Beetles
Varied Carpet Beetles


 

Letter 3 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Varied Carpet Beetle?
Location: Eugene, Oregon
April 10, 2014 1:15 am
I thought because I’ve found five or so on the bed it was bed bugs, but the pattern and the fact that they have wings hidden (like a lady bugs) indicates its not. I’ve have some possible “bites” on my stomach (which is covered when I sleep) and no where else. Went from panic to relieved, and hope this is the right reaction to have. They can eat my clothes, I don’t care as much if its if its not me…
Thanks!
Signature: V

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear V,
You are correct that this is a Varied Carpet Beetle, and this year we have been receiving considerably more identification requests for them and in any other year, that we can remember.  It seems there are about five reemails per day with images of Varied Carpet Beetles.  Adult beetles feed on pollen, and the larva do the damage in the home.  The larvae will eat organic items, and we don’t believe your clothes will be significantly damaged unless you favor furs and clothes with feathers.  Your food items in the pantry are at a much greater risk of being eaten than your clothing is.

Letter 4 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Bugs in Window
Location: Southwest Virginia
April 30, 2015 1:03 pm
I have these bugs around my kitchen window mostly, but they venture out sometimes. I clean them up 3 – 4 times a day. Every time I clean them, I get between 25 and 50 on my wet paper towel. They seem to have a relatively short life span. I would like to know what they are and if there is some type of natural deterrent .
Signature: Louis Goodbrod

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Louis,
You are being troubled by a common household pest, the Varied Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus verbasci .  You may have encountered the larvae of the Varied Carpet Beetle as well.  The larvae will feed on a wide variety of organic materials in the home, and adult Carpet Beetles feed on pollen.  You are finding them in your windows because they are trying to get outside.

Letter 5 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Can you identify these bugs?
Location: Olympic Peninsula, Washington state
March 23, 2016 2:47 pm
I started seeing a few of these tiny bugs a few months ago, now they are everywhere! In my kitchen cabinets, along the bottom of my sliding glass door, in my bathrooms. . . Can you tell me what they are and how to get rid of them? I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, but friends have seen them in Portland OR and Marysville WA
Signature: Janna

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Janna,
The Varied Carpet Beetle is a common household pest.  Thanks for including a dime in your image for scale.

Letter 6 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: My room, Los Angeles, California, US
March 16, 2017 5:09 pm
Hi, I was hoping you would be able to help me figure out what bug this is. They appeared in my room, specifically on my walls and my bed. Quite a few of these bugs appeared in my room before, at least around half a year ago or so, but then disappeared. They are very tiny like 1 or 2 mm. We are currently in the Winter season, heading into Spring, though it has been feeling like Summer this week.
Signature: Concerned Evelyn

Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Concerned Evelyn,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle, a common household pest, and your letter is the third we opened today for a Varied Carpet Beetle identification, so we are posting your letter to assist folks visiting our site who are also troubled by Carpet Beetles.  Adult Carpet Beetles feed on pollen, but larvae will eat a wide variety of organic items in the home.

Letter 7 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: ladybug?
Location: California
February 22, 2014 6:28 pm
It looks like a ladybug, but has a brown shell with black dots. It has many aspects of those of a ladybug. Such as hiding its wings beneath its shell.
Signature: whichever way seemed fit

Variegated Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear whichever way seemed fit,
You have Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci, a common household pest.  The adults feed on Pollen and it is the larvae that do the damage in the home.  According to BugGuide, they feed on a “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese); adults feed on pollen.”  BugGuide also notes:  “The most abundant species in buildings; arguably, world’s most important pest of insect collections. Adults from indoor populations have a negative attraction to light, but near the end of their oviposition period they become attracted to light. Adults from outdoor populations show attraction to light. Adults are active fliers and often fly high above the ground. They enter houses through open windows, around eaves, soffits, and attic vents, and often lay eggs in the dead insects collecting in light fixtures.”

Letter 8 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Identify the bug
Location: California
March 13, 2011 4:17 pm
Hello! We keep finding these small bugs on our carpet, in our bedroom and I haven’t been able to identify it. It has two-tone body, almost black and yellow, very small, hard shell. I have attached pictures. I hoping these aren’t bed bugs, they dont look like them based on the pictures i’ve seen.
Signature: Rachelle Stimmel

Varied Carpet Beetle

Hi Rachelle,
This is the third identification request for the Varied Carpet Beetle we are posting this morning.  The larvae can damage wool rugs and other organic materials found in the home and they also do significant damage to museum collections.  They are cosmopolitan in distribution.

Letter 9 – Varied Carpet Beetles on Parsley

 

On parsley flower
Location: Central AR
April 9, 2012 5:32 pm
Hi, found this on my parsley that is flowering already. any ideas?
Signature: Martha

Varied Carpet Beetles

Hi Martha,
These are Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci, and the larvae can be a nuisance in the home.  Some species in the genus are major threats to museum collections.  The larvae eat organic fibers like wool and pet hair and they can also be found feeding on certain foods stored in the pantry.  Adults feed on pollen.  The adult beetles are not a threat to your garden, but if they enter the home and find a suitable environment, they will lay eggs and you may find the larvae troublesome.  Here is the BugGuide food list:  “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese); adults feed on pollen.” 

Letter 10 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

I think this is a varied carpet beetle
Location: Missouri
February 20, 2012 1:01 am
Hi,
We recently moved into a house and I have been finding these in my house along with larvae in the carpets. I’m pretty sure they are the ”varied carpet beetle” but am hoping there is a chance they are not so please identify. The majority of the adult beetles have been in the bathroom. I have found larvae in 3 bedrooms but only a few adults in one of the bedrooms. I suspect the previous residents were very dirty due to a few other things nasty things that I have discovered in the house. I find an average of 2-6 adults a day in the bathroom. A pest control man came out and sprayed some chemical that we had to leave the house for and said they’d be gone in 2 weeks. Well it has been over 2 weeks and they seem to be increasing. I’m going nuts vaccuming like mad, using diatomaceous earth in certain areas, bleaching the bathroom, caulking up cracks nothing is helping. I knocked old wasps nests off the house but they weren’t even anywhere n ear the area where the beetles are. Any advice?
Signature: Embarrassed anyonmous person

Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Eap,
First we want to console you that having Carpet Beetles in a very clean home is not uncommon.  All you need to do is locate the source of the infestation.  With the cleaning habits you describe, we are confident that once you find the source, you will not be troubled any longer by Carpet Beetles.  You should not waste any more money on an exterminator who sprays the home randomly.  Again, we must stress the importance of finding the source of the infestation.  Carpet Beetles can live on a variety of organic fibers, including fur and feathers. 

Letter 11 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Varied Carpet Beetle
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Hi there,
I took these pictures and was going to send them to see if you could help me identify the bug; my girlfriend has lived longer in the area, and was acquainted with them (although she knows them by the unofficial name ”Spring bugs”, as they appear at the beginning of the Spring).
Alas, when I opened the website, a photo that was highlighted on the homepage struck me as familiar: the bug I was looking for is the varied carpet beetle. So, with the identification solved thanks to your website (without requiring your direct intervention), here are the pictures I took. You may use them however you want, as long as you credit me ( as ”jcraveiro” ) – which is basically a CC by-sa ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ ) license.
Signature: João

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear João,
We are happy to hear you were able to easily identify your Varied Carpet Beetle using our website.  We have since removed the featured Carpet Beetle posting, but as we are continuing to get numerous identification requests for Carpet Beetles, we will use your letter as the new featured posting.  Varied Carpet Beetles are common cosmopolitan household pests, and though the adults feed on pollen, the larvae feed on a large variety of organic materials in the home.  according to BugGuide:  “larvae scavenge on accumulated fur, feathers, skin flakes, dead insects, etc. keratine- or chitin-rich materials; adults feed on pollen on flowers.  Typical household products consumed include dry pet food, wool blankets/clothes, furs, and hair and skin flakes shed by people and pets and accumulated in the corners.”  We are using your photo in both a cropped (to give a better view of the Varied Carpet Beetle) and an uncropped form (to better give an idea of scale).

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Letter 12 – Varied Carpet Beetles

 

brown, black and white bug looks like a ladybug but smaller
May 14, 2010
I found these bugs on my asters and I am wondering if they are harmful to the asters. Reminds me of a ladybug or mabey a beetle. there were several on each flower.
thank you, Tina
downstate, NY about 40 miles north of NYC

Varied Carpet Beetles

Dear Tina,
These are Varied Carpet Beetles, Anthrenus verbasci, a common household pest.  According to BugGuide, the larvae of Carpet Beetles “feed [on] keratine and chitine, and may cause considerable damage on wool, fur, feathers, and natural history collections.
”  Most of the identification requests we receive at What’s That Bug? are of the larvae or of the emerged adults that congregate around windows in an attempt to gain access to the outdoors.  They die on windowsills in great numbers.  The adults feed upon pollen and do not cause any damage in the garden or indoors.

Letter 13 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Carpet beetle?
Location: Morristown, NJ usa
April 9, 2016 2:27 pm
Hello,
I’ve been noticing tons of these little guys over the past few weeks, mostly on my bedroom window cill but sometimes crawling on the walls of my bedroom. They seem to come out on very sunny days. I live in New Jersey in a wood construction condo building on the third floor. The windows are old and I’m sure have plenty of tiny cracks in them from the direct sunlight and weather over the years. Would appreciate if someone could identify the bug I’ve been seeing. Thanks!
Signature: Nicole

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Nicole,
You are correct.  This is a Varied Carpet Beetle.

Letter 14 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

I live NEAR San Francisco, but about 25-30 min away
Location: Redwood City, California
March 7, 2011 6:03 pm
can you identify this bug?
found about 5-6 around my kitchens window sill, whiped them up and flushed them down the toilet [last night].
2 more appeared today.
they’re really tiny, about hm, a bit bigger than a pen’s head.
ick.
Signature: xblueduckx

Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear sblueduckx,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus verbasci, and you can read all about it in our archives or on BugGuide.  We have been responding to several identification requests each day for various species of Carpet Beetles and their larvae.

Letter 15 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject:  Is this a type of ladybug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Northeast us
Date: 03/25/2018
Time: 08:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi we have seen a number of these of late, dont know what they are.
How you want your letter signed:  Michael J. Winkler

Varied Carpet Beetle

Hi Michael,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle, a common household pest.  The larvae do the damage indoors, feeding on organic materials including wool carpets, pet hair and many other things found in the home.  Adults feed on pollen and they are most often noticed indoors near windows as they try to get outside.

Letter 16 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject:  ive been trying for hours
Geographic location of the bug:  south orange county california
Date: 03/01/2019
Time: 11:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  a package of coffee beans shipped by costco was on the floor by my stair case near the entry when I saw something tiny moving. i took the attached photo. Dont know if it’s a lace bug, soldier bug, shield bug or what. i cant seem to find anything with the raised cross pattern on the back or with the same coloration
How you want your letter signed:  it doesnt matter.

Varied Carpet Beetle

The Varied Carpet Beetle is a common, cosmopolitan, household pest, and in our opinion, it is unrelated to your coffee delivery.

Letter 17 – Requests for Varied Carpet Beetle identifications continue to pour in

 

Subject: Small beetle, windowsill & baseboards
Location: Vancouver Island, BC – southern tip.
April 13, 2014 11:12 am
Hi,
I have been finding these little beetles on my windowsill in my atrium (18′ ceilings) and along the baseboards in that atrium. There is no carpet – it’ s laminate flooring. The house is only 7 years old. The atrium is our ‘dining room’ which is only used for dinner in the evenings and kept clean.
Can you please advise what the bug is – I’m assuming it’s some sort of beetle.
Signature: Thanks, Tammy

Varied Carpet Beetles
Varied Carpet Beetles

Hi Tammy,
You have Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci , currently our most common identification request with an average of five requests arriving daily.  Varied Carpet Beetles are members of the family Dermestidae, a group that contains many members that are cosmopolitan and that infest homes.  The adults, which you are finding, feed on pollen, and they are likely congregating on the window sills in an attempt to gain access to the outdoors.  The larvae are the pests that infest homes.  According to BugGuide, they are “primarily a household pest on plant (dried fruits/nuts) and animal materials; regularly encountered in dried-milk factories, occasionally in flour mills and warehouses” and they eat a “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese)”.  They are reviled in museums and BugGuide also notes they are: “arguably, world’s most important pest of insect collections.”  The best way to eliminate them from the home, in fact the only way to eliminate them from the home, is to identify the source of the infestation, the place where the larvae are feeding, and discard any food or other item that might be feeding the larvae. 

Letter 18 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Every year we get ’em
Location: North West washington (America)
March 13, 2011 5:00 pm
This lil critter likes to sit in our window sills.
He is about 1/16 inch?
They have the ability to fly but seem to rarely
seem to.
I thought they looked like lady bugs, But they
aren’t the correct color.
If you can identify and tell us if they are harmful
in any way…That would be great.
Signature: Tom & Kelly Gorham

Varied Carpet Beetle

Hi Tom & Kelly,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle.  The larvae are considered household pests and they will feed on a wide variety of organic matter in the home, including shed pet hair.  Adults feed on pollen.  They are attracted to the windows in their attempt to gain access to the outdoors.

Letter 19 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

They are invading my duaghters room..please help!
Location: in bedroom beside window
March 13, 2011 2:19 pm
Hi
We are trying to figure out what these bugs are and where they are coming from. Do you have any idea?
Signature: Mom needing her daughter to sleep in her room again

Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Mom needing…,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle.  Larvae feed on a variety of organic materials including the woolen fibers found in rugs.  The rug in your photo looks like a wool rug.  You should search our archives for images of the larvae.  Other than the damage that the larvae do to home furnishings and museum collections, they pose no threat to your daughter.  Adults feed on pollen.

Letter 20 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Is this a Beetle
Location: Inside of my house everywhere
April 19, 2011 2:41 pm
I would like to know what kind of bug this is. I have found them in my house, and could you tell me how to get rid of them.
Thank You
Signature: Barbara

Varied Carpet Beetle

Hi Barbara,
We seem to have gotten more requests for the identification of the Varied Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus verbasci, than we ever remember receiving.  We really like your lateral view.  We will be postdating this entry to go live while we are on holiday later in the week.

Letter 21 – Home Infestation: Varied Carpet Beetle

 

What is this tiny black bug with stipes?
Location: The Woodlands, Texas 77382 (just North of Houston, TX)
March 17, 2012 10:41 am
I have lived in my home for 16 years. This tiny bug has suddenly started coming into my house. It is entering between the small crevice between the large window and window sill. Can you help me identify it and tell me what I can do to stop this bug from entering my home?
Signature: Thank you, I really appreciate your help – Lisa :o)

Varied Carpet Beetles

Dear Lisa,
You have Carpet Beetles, probably Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci.  This is a common and cosmopolitan household pest.  According to BugGuide it is:  “The most abundant species in buildings; arguably, world’s most important pest of insect collections. Adults from indoor populations have a negative attraction to light, but near the end of their oviposition period they become attracted to light. Adults from outdoor populations show attraction to light. Adults are active fliers and often fly high above the ground. They enter houses through open windows, around eaves, soffits, and attic vents, and often lay eggs in the dead insects collecting in light fixtures.”  Adults feed on pollen and it is the larvae that do the damage.  According to BugGuide, the larvae feed on a:  “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese).”  We were about to inform you that we believed your beetles were most likely trying to leave the home since adults that emerge from larvae that have been feeding indoors are attracted to windows, but according to BugGuide:  “Field strains have an apparent diapause and must experience cold temperatures to produce adults in the spring; household strains produce adults in the fall.”  Since you have a spring sighting, it is most likely they are entering the home if that information is correct.  It might be difficult to seal your home from such a tiny invader, but keeping careful watch on the stored foods in the pantry may help control the indoor population.  We once had Carpet Beetles devour some papier mache masks we made from newspaper and flour paste.

Letter 22 – Variegated Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Very small beetle in So. Cal.
Location: Running Springs, California (San Bernardino Mountains)
November 18, 2012 1:29 am
It is a very small beetle. I think it may bite. Found while lying in my bed reading (not under the covers).
Signature: Steve in So. Cal

Variegated Carpet Beetle

Hi Steve,
This is a Variegated Carpet Beetle,
Anthrenus verbasci, and while they do not bite, they are considered Household Pests.  We have been getting numerous photos of their larvae in recent weeks.

Variegated Carpet Beetle

Thank you!  That confirms my additional Internet research.  Love your site!
Steven Blood

 

Letter 23 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: couch and house bug
Location: Houston area, Texas
February 27, 2014 3:08 pm
I have found this bug all around my house. On my couch, on the floor, on the wall. It is winter now though there are more in the summer. I am in south Texas.
Thanks!
Signature: CEM

Variegated Carpet Beetle
Variegated Carpet Beetle

Dear CEM,
This is an adult Variegated Carpet Beetle or Varied Carpet Beetle and they often attract attention when they congregate at windows in an effort to leave the home.  Adult Carpet Beetles feed on pollen, but the larvae of Carpet Beetles feed on a “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese); adults feed on pollen”
according to BugGuide.  The larvae will also feed on the dead insects that accumulate in light fixtures and windowsills.

Letter 24 – Varied Carpet Beetles plague thousands of households

 

Subject: small brown white carpet bug
Location: Austin, TX
March 11, 2014 7:23 pm
We found lots these bugs on our rug next to kitchen tile. At first we thought it was mouse dropings but eventually we realize they were alive. I have provide two magnified pictures. One picture is the top view and the other is the bottom view. The top view of the bug appears to show wings ont he tail section, how I have not observed these bugs in flight. We live in Austin Texas and the weather was in the 20 deg F a few weeks ago. Please identify and recommend way to control.
Thank you.
Signature: Allen

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Hi Allen,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle, a common and cosmopolitan household pest.
  We get numerous identification requests daily for Varied Carpet Beetles, so we are posting your images in the hope that it will help some folks who are currently being troubled by Varied Carpet Beetles.

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Thanks Daniel…
I appreciate your quick feedback.
–Allen

 

Letter 25 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: ?beetle
Location: Merced, Ca 95340
March 15, 2016 5:18 pm
I found this little guy on my pillow last night. Maybe a couple of mm. long. 3/14/16
Signature: Tom Tanioka

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Tom,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle, a common household pest.

Letter 26 – Varied Carpet Beetle

 

Subject: Please identify me
Location: 90807 California
March 24, 2016 5:29 pm
I have no clue what this is, Looks like a smaller ladybug . Please help me
Signature: -matt

Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied Carpet Beetle

Dear Matt,
This is a Varied Carpet Beetle, a common household pest, and one of our most frequent identification requests.  We just posted an image of a Varied Carpet Beetle yesterday and it was on the top of our homepage when you submitted your request.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

  • 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.

46 thoughts on “Varied Carpet Beetle: Characteristics and Identification Made Simple”

    • You need to find the source of the infestation. The adult beetles feed on pollen and they do not survive on items in the home. Larvae feed on a variety of stored foods in the pantry as well as on things like fur, feathers, leather and wool. Vacuuming pet hair might also help with the control of carpet beetles.

      Reply
    • You need to find the source of the infestation. The adult beetles feed on pollen and they do not survive on items in the home. Larvae feed on a variety of stored foods in the pantry as well as on things like fur, feathers, leather and wool. Vacuuming pet hair might also help with the control of carpet beetles.

      Reply
  1. I did not realize these are house pests. The only ones I have seen have been in woodland nearby. I was told they were Varigated Carpet Beetles but they look the same so I think that is problem just a name variation.

    Reply
  2. Do varied carpet beetles bite? I sleep under a duck/goose feather quilt and thought I had bed bugs but seeing the images here I think they are carpet bugs, I wake up with bites and they itch – if they are carpet bugs and not bed bugs how do I get them out of the feather quilt??

    Reply
  3. How do you get rid of these? I know they are not harmful but I won’t go near the part of my room I found them in, and I have to wash all of my clothing. Is there anything I can spray or place to ward them off, or if I find the origin how do I get rid of them for good. Please please help I need to clean my room and I can’t if I don’t get rid of these.

    Reply
  4. Please explain feeding on pet hair. Will they only eat hair of pet or will they feed on their skin, body,or harm them? need to know. Thank you
    Will they eat countertop, tile,or any synthetic material?

    Reply
  5. Please explain feeding on pet hair. Will they only eat hair of pet or will they feed on their skin, body,or harm them? need to know. Thank you
    Will they eat countertop, tile,or any synthetic material?

    Reply
  6. I found some on yesterday cleaning my guest room i collected some and i put them on a flat Pringles top poured alchol on them and they died actually it burn ed them .i plan on taking some on a towel today to get the ones in the window hope this help

    Reply
  7. I’m not so sure about the clothes being at lesser risk. I’m pretty sure these little buggers destroyed my only two wool suits, plus several other wool items. I saw several adults in my apartment last summer, and I found a beetle larvae casing on one of the suits, along with a whole bunch of little holes. I haven’t seen any moths, so I’m pretty sure it was the beetles. Of course, I didn’t find out until two days before I was supposed to be attending a wedding.

    Reply
  8. when you say “All you need to do is locate the source of the infestation”, what does this entail? What exactly am I looking for? ONE or a NEST of larvae?
    I also believe that I’ve been bitten, on more than one occassion. I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up with several small spots that were very similar to ant bites……………TOTALLY grosses me out to think that I may have eaten one, because they are right by the side of my mouth!!! I am SO grateful for this site though, because I have been trying to figure out for two weeks straight what these ‘buggers’ are, but the bites today but me over the edge of NEEDING to identify them!!!

    Reply
  9. when you say “All you need to do is locate the source of the infestation”, what does this entail? What exactly am I looking for? ONE or a NEST of larvae?
    I also believe that I’ve been bitten, on more than one occassion. I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up with several small spots that were very similar to ant bites……………TOTALLY grosses me out to think that I may have eaten one, because they are right by the side of my mouth!!! I am SO grateful for this site though, because I have been trying to figure out for two weeks straight what these ‘buggers’ are, but the bites today but me over the edge of NEEDING to identify them!!!

    Reply
  10. I have what appears to be varied carpet beetles. Oddly have only found adults so far and they have been on the stovetop, under the exhaust fan, and in the laundry room near the dryer vent. Neither is carpeted and laundry is not kept there. Have seen a decline in them over last two weeks. Do they have a breeding season or is it constant?

    Reply
  11. These showed up covering my parsley seed heads this morning in a container pot – first time i am seeing them.
    Should I get rid them by shaking into soapy water? I prefer to leave bugs alone if they are beneficial at all – but don’t want these moving inside my home.

    Reply
  12. These showed up covering my parsley seed heads this morning in a container pot – first time i am seeing them.
    Should I get rid them by shaking into soapy water? I prefer to leave bugs alone if they are beneficial at all – but don’t want these moving inside my home.

    Reply
  13. Hello. So how exactly do i find the source of infestation? Please b specific. I 1st started seeing these guys like a week ago, now it’s every day. I’m very grossed out. Especially bcz of their little antenna thingums. Ugh…

    Reply
  14. I currently live in Port Angeles and I have client that lives a few blocks from me and she has a bunch of these guys around her house. I find them in every room from top to bottom. She says that this is the first year she’s had them. I found the larvae in her small bathroom rugs that were under her dogs water/food dishes. Washing in hot water fixed that right away. There was a pile of dog food that fell under a cabinet that the larvae were eating on or I should say made into Swiss cheese and they were all over paper bags that were in that said cabinet along with dog treats in boxes that were not sealed. Cleaning up the mess and throwing away contaminated food has worked on eliminating the problem.

    Reply
  15. i have numerous parasites in my skin, feces, subcutaneous blood, etc. is there any way i can send you some videos in order for you to help me with identification? rhey are quite disturbimg….but my doctor has refused to,look at any of them.

    i found a flea in one of many lesions on my legs and was given Ivermectin….which worked on a temporary basis. not one doctor took skin scarpings or did any of the protocol suggested in the Merck Manual of medicine, prior to deeming me as having delusional parasytosus.

    I took skin scrapings and found all kinds of winged insects in them. videos to proove it. recently had all the skin just peel off my feet…and found all kinds of black fibers and black specks that seemed to have small white worms on them. three days later, i videoed the same skin and was shocked to find an insect acrually crawling from under the skin.

    i also found sand fly larvae in my cats water bowl…which i brought to show my doctor.

    i am beside myself, at this point, as i have found sand flies, some kind of flea and now an insect of unknown origin….in or on my body. i asked for a stool sample,to,test for parasites….but my doctor wrote on the lab slip…”check for occult blood only”…underlying the only twice.

    please help me. thank you.

    Reply
  16. i have numerous parasites in my skin, feces, subcutaneous blood, etc. is there any way i can send you some videos in order for you to help me with identification? rhey are quite disturbimg….but my doctor has refused to,look at any of them.

    i found a flea in one of many lesions on my legs and was given Ivermectin….which worked on a temporary basis. not one doctor took skin scarpings or did any of the protocol suggested in the Merck Manual of medicine, prior to deeming me as having delusional parasytosus.

    I took skin scrapings and found all kinds of winged insects in them. videos to proove it. recently had all the skin just peel off my feet…and found all kinds of black fibers and black specks that seemed to have small white worms on them. three days later, i videoed the same skin and was shocked to find an insect acrually crawling from under the skin.

    i also found sand fly larvae in my cats water bowl…which i brought to show my doctor.

    i am beside myself, at this point, as i have found sand flies, some kind of flea and now an insect of unknown origin….in or on my body. i asked for a stool sample,to,test for parasites….but my doctor wrote on the lab slip…”check for occult blood only”…underlying the only twice.

    please help me. thank you.

    Reply
  17. how do u get rid of these bugs
    anthrenus verbasci bug its all consider a carpet bug i have parkay floors n tile?? found in water dish

    Reply
  18. how do u get rid of these bugs
    anthrenus verbasci bug its all consider a carpet bug i have parkay floors n tile?? found in water dish

    Reply
  19. I’ve been seeing these on my bed as well and i’m wondering if anyone knows how to get rid of them. I’ve seen 4 in about 2 weeks, and am paranoid about sleeping on my bed now because of them.

    Reply
  20. Yes. Please be more specific on finding the source. I have no idea where to look. Like, do I need to throw out my rug/carpet?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • My Ex is into pest control. High ranking.
      I have gone on sites with her, and this is where you find most of the issues. I have seen ants issues, mice, spiders, bedbugs (NASTY), cockroaches (NASTY) etc. Many places I went to, commercial and residental.
      These Carpet Beetles are not like that of an ant, they don’t leave a trail to make things easy. The Carpet Beetle doesn’t leave a fairmone to say, ‘ go this way to the food!’ and the rest follow. I see they have wings like a Ladybug.

      Best practice to elimate pets are to find:
      Grease source (Roaches), fridge, stove, microwave.
      Dust source/skin (Bedbugs) Beds, Rails, Baseboard, matrices
      Garbage source (Rats/Mice) Self explanatory.
      Sugar source (Ants) Pantry,Under the bed, Garage, etc.
      Water source (Waterbugs-Lg Roaches) Under the house, Kitchen/bathroom sinks, etc.
      Cardboard free/egg laying source(Roach etc) Garages, Kitchen Restaurants: (cling free wrap boxes)(Tinfoil boxes). Pizza boxes.
      So as mentioned above:
      * “Larvae feed on a variety of stored foods in the pantry as well as on things like fur, feathers, leather and wool, and pet hair”
      * “The adult beetles feed on pollen, like to be on window sills and they do not survive on items in the home.”

      Larvae found near the wall and carpet in my bedroom under my window. It has been about a year since I have seen one, and they were a shed of skin like a lizard or snake…not the bug itself.

      Now (today) I see quite a few of the adults in the window track of the same window in the bedroom. On my wall under the window and on the window screen. Past 2 days I have caught 14. I think they are coming from the window track drain slot where condensation runs out. There is a lot of pollen starting here in So Cal. My pantry is FAR from my bedroom. I don’t see any in any other area except my room around my window ledge mostly inside the window track. I locked off the drainage slot to check if they are more that way I know its an internal issue I have to deal with.
      Only thing I can think of is the Larvae now hatching the adults are showing.. the only thing I have of that ‘ list of food ‘ is dust that comes in from the window being open.
      I still think they are coming IN and not caused from being IN my home. I never see them anywhere except my window track. Past 2 days, 14 caught, 3 on the wall under the window. The rest are in the window track that the closed window sits on top of.
      So, for starters, I am blocking entry from outside (Window condensation slot ) and checking how many I find. I don’t see Larvae.
      Hope I helped.

      Reply
  21. Yes. Please be more specific on finding the source. I have no idea where to look. Like, do I need to throw out my rug/carpet?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • My Ex is into pest control. High ranking.
      I have gone on sites with her, and this is where you find most of the issues. I have seen ants issues, mice, spiders, bedbugs (NASTY), cockroaches (NASTY) etc. Many places I went to, commercial and residental.
      These Carpet Beetles are not like that of an ant, they don’t leave a trail to make things easy. The Carpet Beetle doesn’t leave a fairmone to say, ‘ go this way to the food!’ and the rest follow. I see they have wings like a Ladybug.

      Best practice to elimate pets are to find:
      Grease source (Roaches), fridge, stove, microwave.
      Dust source/skin (Bedbugs) Beds, Rails, Baseboard, matrices
      Garbage source (Rats/Mice) Self explanatory.
      Sugar source (Ants) Pantry,Under the bed, Garage, etc.
      Water source (Waterbugs-Lg Roaches) Under the house, Kitchen/bathroom sinks, etc.
      Cardboard free/egg laying source(Roach etc) Garages, Kitchen Restaurants: (cling free wrap boxes)(Tinfoil boxes). Pizza boxes.
      So as mentioned above:
      * “Larvae feed on a variety of stored foods in the pantry as well as on things like fur, feathers, leather and wool, and pet hair”
      * “The adult beetles feed on pollen, like to be on window sills and they do not survive on items in the home.”

      Larvae found near the wall and carpet in my bedroom under my window. It has been about a year since I have seen one, and they were a shed of skin like a lizard or snake…not the bug itself.

      Now (today) I see quite a few of the adults in the window track of the same window in the bedroom. On my wall under the window and on the window screen. Past 2 days I have caught 14. I think they are coming from the window track drain slot where condensation runs out. There is a lot of pollen starting here in So Cal. My pantry is FAR from my bedroom. I don’t see any in any other area except my room around my window ledge mostly inside the window track. I locked off the drainage slot to check if they are more that way I know its an internal issue I have to deal with.
      Only thing I can think of is the Larvae now hatching the adults are showing.. the only thing I have of that ‘ list of food ‘ is dust that comes in from the window being open.
      I still think they are coming IN and not caused from being IN my home. I never see them anywhere except my window track. Past 2 days, 14 caught, 3 on the wall under the window. The rest are in the window track that the closed window sits on top of.
      So, for starters, I am blocking entry from outside (Window condensation slot ) and checking how many I find. I don’t see Larvae.
      Hope I helped.

      Reply
  22. I just killed my 2nd one on my livingroom window seal. I’m beyond worried. How to get rid of them? Never had them before

    Reply

Leave a Comment