Carpet beetles, being one of the most notoriously destructive household pests are well known for their appetite for munching on woolen carpets. However, don’t be fooled to think that these pesky critters will stay away from other materials.
Do Carpet Beetles Climb Walls?
Yes, carpet beetles are quite the acrobats and they do climb walls and even ceilings. Young adult beetles climb on walls and head to windows, searching for a way out to feed and mate. Likewise, the larvae in their final larval molt also climb up flat surfaces in homes.
Female adults lay eggs on materials made from wool, leather, silk, and other fertile grounds so that the larvae can have abundant food sources upon hatching. Strangely enough, the larvae are responsible for all the feeding damage in your home, while adults feed on nectar and pollen.
Read on to discover how you can identify carpet beetles, eradicate them once your house is infested, how you can shield your home from re-infestation, and much more.
Why Do Carpet Beetles Climb Walls?
Female carpet beetles move indoors to find a suitable place to lay eggs. Under normal circumstances, it takes a year or so for the larvae to complete their life cycle. Fully developed larvae pupate and then turn into adult carpet beetles.
The adult beetles feed on nectar and pollen, unlike the larval stage. If the young beetles have developed in your household, you can find them climbing walls, searching for openings to get out and look for food.
This usually happens in the warmer months, which is also their ideal time for mating. If their journey is unfruitful, you may find them dead at the windowsills. The larvae in their final stages before pupating can also climb on walls.
They appear as tiny grubs with white and brown rings lined with hairs. These urticating hairs can break off if touched with bare skin and can cause itching and irritation.
How To Identify Carpet Beetles Or Their Larvae
The common species you are likely to encounter in your household are varied carpet beetle, furniture carpet beetle, black carpet beetle, and the common carpet beetle. Identifying a carpet beetle may involve locating an adult or a roaming larva. The eggs and pupa stage are hard to notice since they are usually hidden within fabrics.
An adult carpet beetle length ranges from 2 to 5 mm. They have an oval-shaped body with two antennae and six legs. Like the ladybug beetle, they have a hard-shelled covering (Elytra) with wings folded securely beneath the shell.
The larvae are also known as woolly bears, resembling fuzzy caterpillars, with bands across their body and hair-like extensions on their body. Their body length ranges from 4mm to 8 mm. The coloration of the carpet beetles varies with species.
Black Carpet Beetles:
Black carpet beetles adults are dark brown to oil back without speckles. Their larvae are carrot-shaped with black or brown color with a tuft of long hairs at the narrow end.
Varied Carpet Beetle
Varied carpet beetles adults are black with scales of brown, white, and yellow. They resemble tiny ladybug beetles. The larvae have light and dark stripes, and the body is covered with dark hairs. They are often found on dead animals, nests of birds and spiders, and insect collection. They also love crawling into beds like bed bugs.
Furniture Carpet Beetle
The furniture carpet beetle adult is black with speckles of white, yellow, brown, and orange. The larva is initially white and then matures to a red or chestnut color with brown bands across the body. They are often found on furniture where they feed on padding, hair, feathers, and woolen upholstering.
Common Carpet Beetle
The common beetle has white, red, and black scales, while the larvae are red-brown with dark hair. The larvae mainly attack carpets but can also feed on woolens, silk, feathers, and similar materials.
Other Signs You Might Be Dealing With Carpet Beetles
If the carpet beetles have invaded your house, you may notice piles of larval skins or bristles in affected areas that have been shed by the evolving larvae. The hairs protect the youngsters from predators such as house spiders by making it hard to swallow them.
Brown fecal pellets, the size of a grain of salt, around the affected area can be a good indicator of the larvae’s presence. Even if they are small in size, you can distinguish with scrutiny. Their color usually looks the same as the materials that they are feeding on.
For a detailed look at how to spot carpet beetle poop check out this article, we have written. Do Carpet Beetles Poop And What Does It Look Like?
Loss of Hair on Your Pets
When pets are infested with carpet beetles, they cause intense scratching and loss of hair.
Damaged carpets, rugs, upholstered furnishing, leather, fur items, and so on show a carpet beetle infestation.
Carpet Beetle Eggs
The eggs are oval-shaped and cream in color. They are so tiny to see with the naked human eye but can be observed with a magnifying glass.
The hair-like bristles on the larvae can cause allergic reactions when they come into contact with your skin, airways, or eyes.
Tiny Beetles Dead At Window Sills
You may also find tiny carpet beetles which may have starved and died at your window sills. This shows that all stages of growth (eggs, larva, pupa, and adult) are present in your home.
What Time Of Year Are You Likely To Encounter Carpet Beetles?
Like many other insects, Carpet beetles are active in the summer months. This is the time they are likely to fly into your house through doors, windows, and other openings. If they enter at this time, they are looking for a place to lay eggs.
They lay 50 to 100 eggs on materials that will provide abundant food for the hatched larvae. In typical indoor conditions (25-26 degrees centigrade), the eggs hatch in about two weeks. Their diverse sources of food enable them to thrive on many household items.
In cold seasons, the larvae can hibernate until the warm season kicks in. The larvae can be found indoors or outdoors, depending on where the females lay the eggs.
The larvae are active at night, which makes it impossible to spot them. Like the bedbugs, they come out in the wee hours of the morning. Adults are active during the day. At night they may be attracted by lights into your house and may get through crevices and cracks.
If you are interested in more information on how to spot a carpet beetle invasion check out this article we have written. What Causes Carpet Beetles? What Should You Watch Out For?
Common Insects That You Can Mistake for the Carpet Beetle
Cloth moths and carpet beetles cause severe damage to textiles although they do not look alike and have nothing in common. They both chew and digest materials made from such as wool, silk, and leather. Moths leave many scattered holes across a fabric while carpet beetles eat their way through materials leaving bigger holes.
Most people mistake carpet beetles for bed bugs since they may leave you with red, irritated, and itchy skin. However, bedbugs bite since they feed on human blood, while allergic reaction from carpet beetles is due to your skin getting in contact with the hairs. Bedbugs are bigger than carpet beetles, have oval-shaped bodies, and are reddish-brown.
Fleas and carpet beetles are both tiny and fall in the same length range. The fleas also have a dark brown or reddish-brown body, which can cause more confusion with carpet beetles. However, fleas bite people, cats, dogs, and birds to feed on their blood. Their bites are mainly focused on the limbs and rarely on the other parts of the body. The affected areas are very itchy and turn white if you press on them.
How Do You Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles?
Although getting rid of carpet beetles can be challenging, it is manageable on your own. Once you notice signs of infestation, it is advisable to take action quickly with the right practices and tools to eradicate them from your household.
Vacuuming is the quickest and most effective way to remove the invaders from the carpets, couches, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and fabric-covered areas that cannot be put in a washing machine. Depending on the level of infestation, you can continue with the process once a day for a week or a couple of times a day.
Throwing Away Badly Damaged Clothing
If some clothes have been hit hard by these pests, getting rid of them is the safest way to stop the infestation. Toss them away in outdoor trash even if you do not see the beetles or larvae- you should also discard infested food.
Washing All Your Clothes
Even if there is no sign of damage. Put your washable clothing in a washing machine and wash them in a hot cycle with detergent. The carpet beetles, larvae, and eggs are resilient, and the best way to destroy them is by using hot water and soap. You can also dry clean the materials that cannot be washed.
Using Suitable Insecticides
To avert active larvae infestation, you can use insecticides that contain bifenthrin, deltamethrin, or cyfluthrin. Follow the instructions carefully and avoid spraying all over the house and around people and pets.
You should also limit the treatment to places that collect lint, edges of carpets and rugs, cracks and crevices, closet walls, and shelves where fabrics are stored. It is also advisable to avoid spraying clothes and beddings. Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing.
Dusting Unreachable Places With Boric Acid
In places that are hard to reach such as attics and wall voids, you can apply boric acid evenly and vacuum thoroughly after a while. It is advisable to avoid using dark items since it has a bleaching effect. Boric acid acts as a poison on the insect metabolism and is only poisonous to people if ingested or inhaled in large quantities.
Using Hormone Based Glue Traps
For stubborn infestations placing sticky traps throughout your home to attract and catch the insects can avert further infestations. You can check the traps 1-2 times a week.
Using Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a natural product and a desiccant that kills carpet beetle larvae fast by dehydrating them. The best type is food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is safe for pets and human beings. You can use it to treat rugs and carpets as well as cabinets, closets, and pet beds. It is recommended to wear a mask to avoid inhaling the dust particles when applying.
Seeking Professional Help
Depending on the level of infestation, you can opt to seek a licensed pest control expert who will assess the carpet beetle infestation and use the safest and effective treatment available.
Tips To Prevent Future Infestations
- After eliminating carpet beetles from your home, it is crucial to prevent future infestation. Here are some measures you can take to prevent future infestations.
- Dry clean or run your clothing through a drier before storing them for a long duration. The process will get rid of any beetle eggs or larvae and also eliminate sweat odors.
- Clean your home and thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture, carpets, rugs, and pantry shelves routinely as well as air vents and baseboard
- Examine any flowers or plants before taking them into your house.
- Check your screens, doors, for holes and ensure they are closed up.
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned yearly.
- Store your food in a freezer, Refrigerate, or in tightly sealed containers.
- Get rid of spider webs, birds’ nests, dead insects where carpet beetles can hide and breed.
- Store unused fabric and clothes in airtight boxes. For extra protection, put resin strips filled with insecticides on your store’s fabrics. You can also use flakes, crystals, and mothballs.
- Choose synthetic materials over organic ones. Carpet beetles organic products only, hence choosing synthetic materials may reduce chances of infestation.
- Wipe surfaces such as cupboards, kitchen countertops, windowsills, and shelves with a mixture of water and vinegar to remove any food residue and dirt.
The Wrap Up
Carpet beetles can cause a large amount of damage if left untreated. Unfortunately, they multiply very fast and can cause significant damage. They damage carpets, furniture, clothing, and other materials made from natural fibers.
Their mouthparts are specialized to chew plants and other fibrous materials and hence do not bite human beings. However, if their hair comes into contact with your skin, you may feel as though you have been bitten.