Can Carpet Beetles Fly?

Almost invisible to the human eye, these pesky beetles are famously detested by homeowners, because of their eating habits. The carpet beetle as the name suggests is one of the main reasons for the damage to your carpets and sometimes even beloved clothing items. 

While we certainly know that these menacing critters can crawl, this begs the question, can carpet beetles fly?

Yes, carpet beetles can fly. Adult carpet beetles have two pairs of wings allowing them to fly. They will fly in search of pollen for food and a place to lay their eggs. Attracted to lights, carpet beetles, find houses an easy target with plentiful food options for their larvae once hatched.

Carpet beetle in flight
The carpet beetles Eltrya opens up allowing their wings to unfold and begin flapping.

The following article will take a look at why carpet beetles fly into your house, how they fly, as well as their flying behaviors and dynamics.

Why Do Carpet Beetles Fly Into Your Home?

These teeny guests invite themselves to your home to feast on various materials. The time damage is spotted, it is already too late and the best is to treat the problem immediately.

While they are considered a major nuisance by homeowners, it is only the carpet beetle larvae, and not the adults, that are responsible for the severe damage in your house, especially in large numbers. But how did these pests enter the house in the first place? 

Adult beetles prefer to live outside as they feed on food sources mainly found outside but will fly and easily enter your home through cracks, doors, and windows

The females will lay eggs near the larval food sources, which of course can be found on the inside and outside your house. 

Once carpet beetles enter, they will complete the life cycle within your house until they reach adulthood. 

They are then able to fly to lights inside and mate. They could even fly to other parts of the house to lay eggs, but they generally do not have to travel long distances to find suitable spots in a home.

When it comes to materials carpet beetles are rather picky eaters. They stay away from synthetic materials and generally focus on materials like fur, wool, leather, silk, and animal hair. However, synthetic carpets with traces of sweat, animal hair, oil, and food might also make it to the carpet beetle menu. 

Concerned that carpet beetles might also like to bite people? Check out this article we have written for all the answers, Do Carpet Beetles Bite?

The Anatomy Of A Carpet Beetles Wings

Adult carpet beetles can fly, while the beetles in the larval stage have not yet developed wings. Adults have four wings and the outer wings are covered by a hardened shell (known as elytra) to protect the back wings. 

When spread, their wings have a reddish-orange stripe down the middle and consist of white and orange/ red scales.

There are numerous carpet beetle species. The varied carpet beetle is black, but its wings are covered in brown, yellow, and white scales.

Black carpet beetles are dark brown to an oily black.

How Do Carpet Beetles Fly?

Carpet beetles are only able to fly once they reach adulthood and develop wings. 

During the larval stage, carpet beetles stay away from light sources, so they will burrow into materials or upholstery to feed. 

At this stage, they are still unable to fly. However, as the larvae eat and grow, they eventually make it to adulthood. This stage can take anything from two months to several years, depending on food availability.

How Fast Can Carpet Beetles Fly?

Adult carpet beetles can move rapidly between different rooms as they can fly. However, there are no freely available studies that indicate the speed at which they can move, or how fast they beat their wings.

These home invaders can also enter your house by other means. Adult beetles feed on plant pollen, so can enter your home not only through cracks, windows and doors, but they are also able to hitch a ride in a flowering pot plant. They can also catch a ride on an animal such as a dog, bird, or mouse entering your home. 

How Far Can Carpet Beetles Fly?

Adult carpet beetles generally don’t fly very far to complete the life cycle. In a single flight, carpet beetles generally do not travel further than a few meters from flower to flower, or while entering a home.

Most of their lives are spent on flowers eating pollen and nectar. Females will hang out near light sources to mate with males. 

After this, their attraction to lights ends, and they find a dark spot close to larval food sources to lay eggs, which can range between 35 and 100 eggs. Larvae can live for 220-630 days before pupating. 

If you are concerned that carpet beetles might get into your bed check out this article we have written, Can Carpet Beetles Live In Your Bed?

Why Do Carpet Beetles Fly?

Carpet beetles fly for various reasons such as avoiding predators, finding suitable mates, and in the search for food. However, some of these are more common reasons than others

Escaping Predators

General bug-eating predators such as birds, shrews, and other predatory bugs may target carpet beetles for the mere fact that they are beetles and a food source, but very few feed exclusively on this pest. 

However, a parasitic wasp (Laelius pedatus) is known as a natural predator and is used as a biological control agent on the carpet beetle. The eggs of these wasps generally hatch within four days.

Biological control is an environmentally sound method of controlling pests by using their natural enemies. 

Although flight can aid in the aversion of predators, it is not the primary use of a carpet beetle’s wings as they are not particularly strong flyers.

Finding Mates

Adult carpet beetles are generally seen from April or May through to September, according to this source from the United Kingdom. 

Just like most beetles, carpet beetles are attracted to light and will find mates near light sources, whether inside or outside. 

This is the most common time you will see a carpet beetle take flight. The attraction to light and their ability to fly is the primary way for carpet beetles to congregate and find a suitable mate.

Searching For Food

Adult carpet beetles only feed on pollen and nectar of flowers so will fly around during their adult lives to reach these food sources. 

The Brighton Museum claims that adult carpet beetles can mate and lay eggs without even feeding, as can happen when they emerge as larvae inside a closed container such as a suitcase or a trunk. 

However, it is the larval stage where they are destructive and will eat materials, so they will at least be able to feed up to this stage. 

Larvae can also live for several days without food, but this will prolong their life cycle. 

Adults only live for a short period in any event, during which time they must mate. 

If a male and female are present at the same time and place, mating and egg-laying can easily take place before there is a need to search for food, and therefore the need for flight is limited.

Will A Carpet Beetle Die Without Wings?

The only time when carpet beetles are without wings is during the larval stage before they even reach adulthood. 

Adults have a short life cycle and vary slightly between the different species. They live for a period of around two to six weeks in females, and two to four weeks in males, in which they need to mate to continue the life cycle. 

Should an adult carpet beetle not have wings for whatever reason, they will certainly find it difficult to travel swiftly between areas and find a mate.  

It might just take them much longer to walk to light sources in search of males, and should they be exposed to such events, predators might make a meal of an unsuspecting carpet beetle. 

Carpet beetles are good climbers. We have an article about this if you’re interested called, Can Carpet Beetles Climb Walls?

Carpet beetles will not likely die due to their lack of wings, as they can go long periods of time without food, however, their chance of mating will be greatly reduced and possibly be eliminated entirely.

The Wrap Up

Carpet beetles can fly, however, it is only the adults that do so. Ironically it is not the adults that cause the damage in our homes, but the non-airborne larvae that do so.

Adult beetles are likely to enter your home via a flight because of their attraction to light and its relation to finding a mate.

Once in your home, however, they will lay their eggs and restart their life cycle.


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