dc home infested with carpet beetles

What is a carpet beetle?

Carpet beetles are  found inside homes, warehouses, museums and other buildings.  Once inside they may cause serious damage to clothing, furs, carpets and other stored fabric items.  The DC Metro area is home to several common species of carpet beetle:

  • Varied carpet beetle

  • Common carpet beetle

  • Furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus scrophulariae)

The varied carpet beetle adult is black with an irregular pattern of brown, white and dark yellow scales on its elytra (wing covers).  It is visible to the human eye at 1/8-3/16 inch in length. They look like small, miniature ladybird beetles (lady bugs) but with a black shell and yellow spots. Varied carpet beetle larvae appear brownish in color and appear to be “hairy” or “bristly.”

Black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor)

The black carpet beetle adult is dark brown to oily-black. The body length can range from 1/8 to approximately 3/16 inch. Black carpet beetle larvae are typically seen as having carrot-shaped, or elongated, bodies with a tuft of long bristles at the narrow end.  Inside homes, carpet beetles typically deposit their eggs on or near wool carpet and rugs. A female carpet beetle lays around 40 eggs, which take 10 to 20 days to hatch. A female adult carpet beetle can live for 2 to 6 weeks, and a male can live for 2 to 4 weeks.   Adults usually appear in spring and early summer. Indoors, they are often seen near windows.

Why do I have carpet beetles in my home?

Because carpet beetles feed on natural fibers and particles, they are especially attracted to any or all the following: 

  • Wool (including carpets, rugs and other woolen goods)

  • Animal skins and furs

  • Stuffed animals

  • Feathers

  • Human hair

  • Pet hair

  • Leather book bindings

  • Animal horns

  • Whalebones

  • Silk

They also eat dried plant products and silk plants. Inside homes, these “fuzzy” bugs are often found on the floor or around baseboards, in closets, beneath upholstered furniture and on the undersides of carpeting.  Carpet beetles, like many other pests, enter the home from the outside.  Adult carpet beetles frequent homes and buildings by entering through small cracks and openings around windows, doors, and from underneath siding.  They will also use electrical lines and above-ground pipes that lead into the home.

Are carpet beetles dangerous?

Varied carpet beetles are not considered to be harmful to humans or pets. Carpet beetles are harmful to carpets, furniture and clothing and will often remain a nuisance pest.  In rare instances, the bristles on carpet beetle larvae can create skin irritations, causing a sensation of being bitten.  

carpet beetle on a white sheet in baltimore

Once larvae turn into adult carpet beetles, they will want to leave the house in order to find pollen. This means that springtime is when they will be most active and you will see large numbers of the beetles on window panes, in their bid to find flowers.

carpet beetle on a white sheet in baltimore

Carpet beetles live in a variety of places. Abandoned bird nests are ideal for carpet beetles to live, especially if they are sheltered in eaves and lofts.

How do I get rid of carpet beetles?

Much of what needs to be done to solve a carpet beetle problem is best done by the homeowner. The process of looking through items and checking for evidence of infestation is something that homeowners can easily do. If evidence of infestation appears, wash affected items (such as clothing, wool rugs, carpets, etc.) or clean them in whatever manner is appropriate for the item. Natural fiber rugs affected by carpet beetles (such as wool, silk and sisal materials) are best addressed by sending to a professional rug cleaning company. It is reasonable to expect that any of these items are free of infestation after the appropriate cleaning. Following the inspection and identification of infested items, a thorough cleaning and/or vacuuming of the area needs to be performed where the items were. This should involve the use of a crack and crevice tool with the goal being the removal of any and all particles of lint, carpet fiber, pet hair, etc. This is the part of the process that a homeowner or resident is involved in. Following these steps, an appropriate application of pesticide is applied.

Can I control carpet beetles myself?

As stated in the paragraph above, there are several things that you can do to aid in the elimination of carpet beetles.  To maintain and/or prevent future carpet beetle infestations, an American Pest professional will service your home and treat the area(s) with the appropriate products.  This step occurs after you have laundered or cleaned infested items and areas.  Contact us today to learn more.

How soon can you provide treatment for carpet beetles?

At American Pest, we pride ourselves on our speed and level of service. For that reason, we make every effort to make sure we are with you the same or very next day.

Are carpet beetle treatments safe?

Every product used by American Pest has been approved by the EPA and registered for pest control use. Only once the product has been approved can we use it and only in accordance with a strict set of guidelines for application, giving you the assurance that no harm will come to humans or pets.

How can I prevent carpet beetle infestations in the future?

To improve your chances of preventing carpet beetles from invading your home vacuum up pet hair and other dust and debris. Vacuuming natural fiber rugs will also help, especially under furniture. Furthermore, when storing woolen garments away, they should be clean and kept in pest-proof containers.  


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