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Carpet beetles are tiny yet troublesome creatures that can wreak havoc on your home’s most luxurious furnishings and fabrics. To prevent irreversible damage to rugs, clothes, bedding, and other household linens, it’s important to deal with carpet beetle infestations promptly and thoroughly. In this guide, we’ll explain how to get rid of carpet beetles, from preventive measures to DIY methods and professional solutions.
Understanding Carpet Beetles
Below, we delve into the destructive feeding habits of carpet beetles and the factors that attract them to your living space.
Characteristics of Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles are similar to ladybugs in size and shape, though they are slightly smaller and often less colorful. Depending on the species of carpet beetle, adults can either be solid black or have a mottled appearance with light brown, white, yellow, and orange scales on their wing covers. In North America, the four most common types of carpet beetles are the varied carpet beetle, black carpet beetle, common carpet beetle, and furniture carpet beetle.
Carpet beetles have hard exoskeletons, oval-shaped bodies, and voracious appetites. Carpet beetle larvae, in particular, feed on a wide range of organic materials—including wool, felt, silk, leather, fur, skin, and feathers. These animal byproducts contain keratin, a protein that larvae can easily digest. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and rayon, are safe unless they contain wool, food stains, or body oils. As adults, carpet beetles are drawn to sunlight and feed on flower pollen.
Why Do Carpet Beetles Invade Homes?
Adult carpet beetles often fly into homes through open windows or doors. They may also hitch a ride on fresh-cut flowers. Once inside, they can easily find a hospitable place to lay eggs and plenty of food sources—including lint, dead insects, pet hair, and crumbs.
Carpet beetle eggs do best in warm, humid environments, and our homes fit the bill. Plus, by laying their eggs indoors, adult beetles ensure their offspring will have plenty of food once they hatch into larvae. Carpet beetle larvae can feed on a wide variety of organic materials and natural fibers.
Because carpet beetle eggs are tiny and their larvae prefer dark, undisturbed places, an infestation can easily go unnoticed long enough for a new generation to mature. Further, damage to rugs or woolen fabrics can easily be mistaken for a clothes moth infestation. Your first clue may be the presence of adult carpet beetles on your window sills. You might also notice their shed skins and tiny droppings, which look similar to flea dirt.
How to Prevent Carpet Beetle Infestations
Regular cleaning and vacuuming is the best way to prevent a carpet beetle infestation. Pay special attention to areas where lint, pet hair, and dead insects tend to accumulate, such as underneath sofas and along baseboards. Vacuum rugs, carpets, and upholstery frequently and deep clean them periodically with a steam cleaner. Vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter will be the most effective at capturing carpet beetle eggs and larvae.
Store extra household linens and seasonal clothing in airtight containers or sealed bags. Before storing, run them through the washer and dryer to get rid of any eggs or larvae. Consider adding natural repellents, such as cedar chips or lavender sachets, to closets and storage containers.
DIY Solutions for Carpet Beetle Infestations
If you have a carpet beetle infestation, your first step should be a thorough cleaning of any infested areas or materials. Vacuum the floors and furniture, run machine-washable items through the laundry, and invest in dry cleaning or deep steam cleaning for other infested items. Once that is done, use a combination of DIY traps, insecticides, and natural repellents to eliminate any remaining invaders.
Glue traps are an excellent option for detecting and combating a carpet beetle infestation. You can buy sticky traps online or at most hardware, home improvement, or grocery stores. The most effective traps are those baited with carpet beetle pheromones. However, you can also make your own sticky traps with double-sided tape and cardboard. Lay the traps on your windowsills, near furniture, and in closets.
Alternatively, you can try DIY dish soap traps. Simply mix water and dish soap in shallow bowls and place them in strategic locations throughout your home.
Many insecticide powders and sprays can kill carpet beetles, but thick carpets and rugs may be more difficult to treat than other surfaces. Look for insecticides that are recommended for flea control and list fabric insects on the label. Make sure the product you choose is safe to use on fabrics and conduct a spot test before treating the entire area.
Boric acid, which can be found in most grocery stores, can be applied in powder form to infested areas. Other readily available options include food-grade diatomaceous earth, baking soda, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. Commercial insecticides that contain deltamethrin, bifenthrin, or cyfluthrin should be effective, too. Be sure to follow any manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Certain essential oils and natural substances can deter carpet beetles from entering your home or damaging your belongings. Peppermint oil and clove oil can be effective when diluted with water in a spray bottle. You can also try spraying apple cider vinegar and placing lavender sachets or cedar chips near objects you’d like to protect.
Professional Solutions for Carpet Beetle Infestations
In severe cases, professional pest control services may be necessary to fully eliminate a carpet beetle infestation. Experienced exterminators have the knowledge and tools to handle the immediate problem and prevent future infestations, including professional-grade pesticides. The integrated pest management (IPM) services offered by companies such as Orkin and Terminix include a thorough inspection, targeted treatments, and long-term prevention strategies.
The added cost of pest control may be worthwhile if you find yourself dealing with a widespread or recurring infestation. If carpet beetles have invaded multiple rooms in your home, DIY solutions may not be enough. Repeat infestations may indicate that carpet beetles have been breeding in hard-to-treat locations, such as your attic. A professional pest control company will be much better equipped to treat these infestations.
A multipronged approach is essential for dealing with a carpet beetle infestation. In addition to laying traps and applying insecticides, you should clean infested areas thoroughly. This includes laundering or steam cleaning any fabrics. Regular cleaning, airtight storage, and natural repellents will help prevent new infestations.
If you find yourself facing a severe infestation, don’t hesitate to call for reinforcements. Orkin, Terminix, and other reputable pest control companies have the expertise and equipment to banish carpet beetles and other pests from your home.
Carpet Beetles FAQ
How do you know if you have carpet beetles?
Here are a few signs that you have carpet beetles:Adult carpet beetles near entry pointsDamaged areas on carpet or upholsteryFecal pellets that look like dark salt or sandIrregular holes in fabricLarvae and shed skinsThreadbare spots in rugs
What will keep carpet beetles away?
The following steps will help keep carpet beetles away from your home and potential food sources:Periodically steam cleaning rugs, carpets, and furniturePlacing lavender sachets or cedar chips in storage areasSpraying natural repellents or commercial insecticidesStoring susceptible items in airtight containers or sealed bagsVacuuming and decluttering your home regularlyWiping down windowsills with vinegar or rubbing alcohol
Can carpet beetles be harmful to you?
Carpet beetles do not bite or sting humans. However, they may be harmful to those with sensitive skin or allergies. Some individuals may experience skin irritation or respiratory issues when exposed to carpet beetle larvae, hairs, droppings, or shed skin. Carpet beetles can also damage natural fibers and certain organic materials, such as wool and silk.
What are carpet beetles attracted to?
Carpet beetles are attracted to the following:Animal-based materialsBee, wasp, or bird nestsDead insectsFood crumbsLight and sunshineLint and pet hairWarm, humid environments
How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies
Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.
From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.
After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.