What Do Carpet Beetles Eat: A Quick Guide for Curious Homeowners

Carpet beetles are a common household pest known for their appetite for fabrics and animal fibers. An infestation can be troublesome due to the damage they cause, particularly by their larvae. Adult carpet beetles aren’t a major concern, as they primarily feed on pollen outdoors or not at all source.

The real culprits behind the destruction are the carpet beetle larvae. These tiny, worm-like creatures feast on a variety of materials found in your home, such as fabrics, fur, feathers, and even human hair. So, it’s essential to identify and address any infestations as soon as possible source.

As you learn more about carpet beetles and their diet, you’ll be better equipped to prevent and manage infestations in your home. Being aware of their feeding habits will help you protect your belongings from damage and maintain a pest-free environment.

What Carpet Beetles Eat

Carpet and Furniture Diet

Carpet beetles feed on a variety of materials in your home, especially those made of natural fibers. They are known to damage carpets, rugs, and furniture by consuming the natural fibers found in these items. For example, they can eat woolen carpets and cause significant damage over time.

Natural Fabrics Consumption

Some favorite food sources for carpet beetles include fabrics made from natural fibers like wool, silk, fur, cotton, and linen. They often infest clothing and bedding, causing damage to these items as they eat the natural fibers. This includes items made with feathers, such as down pillows or comforters.

Insects and Others

In addition to consuming natural fibers, carpet beetles also feed on dead insects, pet hair, lint, and other organic matter. This means that areas of your home with a buildup of such materials may be particularly attractive to these beetles. To minimize the risks associated with carpet beetles, make sure to frequently clean and vacuum your home, paying particular attention to areas with natural fibers or organic debris.

Comparison of Common Carpet Beetle Food Sources:

Food Source Fiber Type Examples
Carpets Wool Woolen carpets, rugs
Furniture min>Natural Upholstery, cushion covers
Clothing silk, fur, cotton Sweaters, scarves, coats
Bedding feathers, cotton, linen Pillows, blankets, sheets
Other miscellaneous Dead insects, pet hair, lint

Remember to regularly clean and maintain your home to prevent carpet beetles from settling in and causing damage to your belongings.

Lifestyle and Habitat

Indoor Habitat

Carpet beetles usually make their homes in various parts of your house. You’ll find them in closets, attics, and under baseboards. They are attracted to light and heat, which is why they often appear near windows and doors. Their larvae are notorious for causing damage to fabrics, including clothes, cotton, and linen. They even feast on pet hair and human skin, which makes it necessary to keep your living areas clean.

For example, they might be hiding in your bookshelf, feeding on the glue that binds the books together. Ensure to vacuum your carpets and upholstery regularly, and pay extra attention to the areas where your pets spend most of their time.

Outdoor Elements

Carpet beetles are also found outdoors, feeding on a variety of sources. Adults are particularly fond of pollen and nectar from flowers. They can often be seen on plants, such as crape myrtles, where they enjoy the outdoor elements.

When it comes to outdoor habitats, these beetles can make their way into bird nests, feeding on the materials inside. This close proximity to nature makes it easier for them to find their way into your home. To prevent infestation, it’s important to seal any gaps or cracks that might serve as entry points.

Comparison of Indoor and Outdoor Habitats:

Indoor Outdoor
Food Clothes, pet hair, books Pollen, nectar, bird nests
Locations Closets, attics, baseboards Flowers, plants
Prevention Vacuuming, cleanliness Sealing entry points

Signs of Infestation

Physical Damage

Carpet beetles are known to cause significant damage to various items around your home, primarily those made from animal fibers. For instance, you might notice:

  • Holes or bare spots in your woolen carpets, mats, and rugs
  • Damaged upholstery on your furniture, such as cushions or armchairs made from natural fibers
  • Chewed areas on your silk or woolen drapes and linens
  • A worn appearance on mattresses and the edges of your bed where beetles might be present

It’s also common for carpet beetles to lurk in air ducts and cause damage to the insulation materials. Keep an eye out for scattered insect remains, such as shed skins, or even small stains that might indicate a carpet beetle infestation.

Carpet Beetles Traits

Recognizing the traits of carpet beetles can help you identify an infestation more effectively. They have unique characteristics:

  • Adult beetles are around 1/10 to 1/8-inch long, gray to black, and nearly round
  • Larvae are elongated, oval, and reddish-brown, covered with many brownish-black hairs

For example, you may spot adult beetles on window sills or around light sources, while their larvae tend to scurry quickly when discovered in their hiding places.

Feature Adult Beetles Larvae
Size 1/10 to 1/8-inch long About 1/4-inch long
Shape Nearly round Elongated, oval
Color Gray to black, with whitish scales and orange-red Reddish-brown, with many brownish-black hairs

Taking a closer look at these signs of infestation will help you determine whether carpet beetles are causing damage to your belongings and better inform your pest control efforts. With a keen eye for their physical damage and distinctive traits, you can work to protect your home from these unwelcome pests.

Prevention and Management

Cleaning Measures

To prevent carpet beetles from infesting your home, keep it clean and tidy. Vacuum regularly, especially in areas where pet hair and dust tend to accumulate. Focus on curtains, upholstery, and vents. Vacuuming removes eggs, larvae, and adult beetles.

Wash fabrics like bedding, clothing, and curtains regularly. This helps eliminate any potential larvae or eggs present. Stick to synthetic fabrics when possible since carpet beetles prefer animal-derived fibers.

Treating Infestations

In case of a carpet beetle infestation, identify and remove infested items. For larger items, like furniture or carpets, use insecticides carefully. Apply only when necessary and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Note that insecticides won’t eliminate eggs or larvae hidden in felt or lint.

For a natural solution, consider using oil-based treatments. These can help repel adult beetles.

Keep an eye on pantries and seal all food sources, including spices and cereal. Regularly clean and dust these areas to avoid attracting beetles.

Comparison Table for Different Cleaning Measures:

Cleaning Method Pros Cons
Vacuuming Removes eggs & adult beetles Can’t reach some hidden larvae
Washing Eliminates eggs & larvae Not applicable to all surfaces
Insecticides Effective on adult beetles Requires caution & proper handling
Oil-based treatments Natural & repel adult beetles May not eliminate all larvae

By following these prevention and management tips, you can keep your home safe from carpet beetles and maintain the condition of your belongings.

Potential Dangers

Human Risks

Although carpet beetles do not bite humans, they can cause harm in other ways. Larvae can provoke allergic reactions in some people due to the small, irritating hairs they shed. Inhaling these hairs may cause throat irritation.

Material Dangers

Carpet beetles are notorious for damaging a wide range of materials. Below is a list of items vulnerable to their infestations:

  • Natural fibers (wool, silk, cotton)
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Clothing
  • Paper products (books, documents)
  • Blankets
  • Wood (carpentry, artifacts)

As natural scavengers, they can feed on a variety of substances, including:

  • Animal fibers (fur, feathers)
  • Oil-based products (paintings)
  • Seeds (contaminating foodstocks)
  • Insects (museums, entomology collections)

Their appetite for such a wide range of materials makes them particularly troublesome pests. The black carpet beetle can cause extensive damage to possessions and become difficult to eradicate.

Preventing and controlling carpet beetle infestations involves regular cleaning, monitoring, and targeted pesticide application, when necessary. Keep your environment free of debris and potential food sources, and store precious items in sealed containers. Be aware of the signs of infestation, and take action promptly to minimize damage and ensure the safety of your belongings.

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 – Carpet Beetle Larvae eat doggie Kibble

 

Subject: Ew, some kind of beetle larvae?
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
July 24, 2015 5:20 pm
Found this kibble of dog food behind some kitchen furniture, noticing it is a maggot nursery! What kind of beetle/bug is nesting in my kitchen?’
Thanks 😃
Signature: Maggot spotter

Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet Beetle Larvae

Dear Maggot spotter,
Maggots are the larvae of flies.  You have Carpet Beetle Larvae, common household pests that will eat a wide variety of organic substances found in the home.

Thank you 👍  I had carpet beetles in the kitchen for a short while, (I think they hitched a ride with some old dry compost plants I bought at food lion !) but haven’t seen them in a few months …

Letter 2 – Carpet Beetle Larvae eat holes in sheets!!!!

 

Subject: bugs ate holes in sheets
Location: southern California
September 2, 2014 9:43 pm
We left home for two months and when we returned, these bugs were in a bed that had dozens of holes in the sheet; presumably eaten by these bugs. the bugs were under the sheets, on the mattress cover. Are these bed bugs? No sign of them since we washed bedding and destroyed sheets.
Signature: stever65

Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet Beetle Larvae

Hi Steve65,
These are Carpet Beetle Larvae, common household pests that will feed on a wide array of organic items in the home.  What was the composition of the sheets?

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Letter 3 – Carpet Beetle Larva from Turkey

 

Subject: What’s That Bug?
Location: Turkiye/Ankara
May 4, 2014 6:17 am
i am tired of this.an she is eating our clothes which is cashmire, wool etc. how can i get rid of it and its colony?
Signature: esin kuzenk

Carpet Beetle Larva
Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Esin,
This appears to be a Carpet Beetle Larva from the family Dermestidae, a family with many species that are infamous for infesting stored foods and feeding on many other organic materials including wood and museum specimens.  We do not specialize in extermination advice.

Letter 4 – Carpet Beetle Larvae eat candy in the closet

 

Subject: Bed bug??
Location: Nashville Tn
December 10, 2016 2:38 pm
Contained in closet but are these bed bugs
Signature: Dgg

Carpet Beetle Larvae eat Candy
Carpet Beetle Larvae eat Candy

Dear Dgg,
These are Carpet Beetle Larvae and they appear to be feeding on a piece of candy on the floor of the closet.

Letter 5 – Blurry Dots: Pantry Beetles or Carpet Beetles, perhaps

 

dark borwn bug small like a lady bug with white dots on and wings.
March 4, 2010
i keep finding them round my room, sometimes on the wall but i have found one in the car. They are really starting to freak me out and was hoping you could tell me what they are.
Help
Bedroom

Blurry Dots or possibly Pantry Beetles

Dear (not terribly) Help(ful),
We believe you may need more help than we are able to provide.  A bedroom and a car are not really geographical locations in any way that would provide us with the information we requested in terms of geography, and your photo is pretty much useless for any identification purposes.  We can only surmise that you probably have either Pantry Beetles or Carpet Beetles, or perhaps even both.

Letter 6 – Blurry Creature might be Carpet Beetle Larva

 

Subject: 100 worms in my condo
Location: mainly kitchen floor
March 12, 2013 9:26 pm
Hi,
I found worms in my condo ( only hard wood floor) early Feb and have not been able to kill them all. They must got in a while ago beaus they are multiplying. Total I have captured almost 100 worms.
The worm is about 1 cm long. Its shorter than the gaps between the tiles in the kitchen. Mature one are darker brown. The baby are thinner than the hair and around 0.5cm long. Babies are very hard to identify until they start moving.
They hides under the stove, refrigerator and also the gap between the wall board and the floor. Most are on the floor but found few in the kitchen counters. We have use bug spray and bleach at the edges and floor everyday. We also checked the overhead cabinet every day and very surprised to see one. It was not there before and wonder how it climbed to the overhead cabinet.
We have capture a few in a container for more than 2 weeks and they are still alive.
My questions are:
1.where are they coming from. If food, what kind of food? Could it be organic apple?
2.They life cycle so I can estimate how long they have stay in my place.
3.how can I kill them especially the one hiding between the base board and floor? Also how to make sure no more eggs in the house.
Thanks,
Amanda

Possibly Carpet Beetle Larva
Possibly Carpet Beetle Larva

Dear Amanda,
Your photo is quite blurry, but we believe you have an infestation of Carpet Beetle Larvae, probably in the genus
Attagenus.  Here is a photo from BugGuide for comparison.  The larvae of Carpet Beetles will feed on textiles in the home as well as some stored food products.  Since you are finding them in the kitchen, we would recommend closely inspecting the pantry.  We do not give extermination advice.

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.

8 thoughts on “What Do Carpet Beetles Eat: A Quick Guide for Curious Homeowners”

  1. I have 2 pictures of a beetle? that I found on my blanket. It’s about the size of a dime , but a bit smaller. The undersid of it is off white. It freaked me out because bugs and I don’t get along. I live in cleveland ohio. can I send you a picture of it so you can identify it, Please!

    Reply
  2. I want to know more about the black carpet beetle. I have killed several of these little black beetles and they are different sizes maybe very small like a quarter of an inch or 1/8 of an inch to a quarter of an inch. they started showing up this winter in my living room and now I’m finding them in the kitchen some of them are already dead and they don’t move real fast and I’m not sure if they fly even though they have wings. Least I haven’t seen any flying. I’ve seen pictures of the black carpet beetle how fast do they move? these bugs don’t move all that fast and can be squished fairly easily

    Reply
    • A lot of cleaning! and by finding and destroying the main source. If you still have them after a few months of good cleaning, unfortunately you might have to hire an exterminator. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. I have had various carpet Beetle ‘s for 2 years. I have had the house sprayed, and we have vacuumed, cleaned, & had the house sprayed every month for over a year. I can’t get rid of them.
    I have carpets and a cat. I can’t stand it very well anymore. They bite me & their everywhere.
    What should I do? Please, can you help me?
    Paula Vaessen, paulapjv@aol.com

    Reply
  4. I have had various carpet Beetle ‘s for 2 years. I have had the house sprayed, and we have vacuumed, cleaned, & had the house sprayed every month for over a year. I can’t get rid of them.
    I have carpets and a cat. I can’t stand it very well anymore. They bite me & their everywhere.
    What should I do? Please, can you help me?
    Paula Vaessen, paulapjv@aol.com

    Reply

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