Pest Issues

Carpet Beetles: Types of Damage, Prevention and Control

Tomasz Klejdysz /

Have you noticed some bald spots on your favourite rug? Or maybe, there’s an inexplicable hole in your silk gown? Well, the culprits behind this can be easily a number of introduced or native-to-Australia textile pests, including the larvae of one common carpet beetle species – the Variegated carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci).

Well, in this post, we will look into how to identify a carpet beetle infestation, eradicate it for good, and prevent them from invading your property.

Table of Contents:

What do carpet beetles look like

Tomasz Klejdysz & JorgeOrtiz_1976 /

There are several carpet beetle species in Australia, such as the above-mentioned and wide-spread European Variegated carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), the native Australian carpet beetle (Anthrenocerus australis), as well as the Furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes) and the Black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor). They all look similar in shape and size but differ slightly in their colouring.

See below some of the carpet beetles’ distinct characteristics:

  • Length – Carpet beetles are between 2 and 5mm long, with the Black carpet beetle being the largest.
  • Body – The insects have an oval-shaped body.
  • Colour – The different types are different in colour (black, dark-brown with light markings or with mottled black, white and yellow markings).
  • Larvae – They resemble grubs and are dark to light brown in colour. The larvae can reach up to 7mm in length when fully fed. Some of them are covered in bristles.

The carpet beetles’ lifecycle commonly completes in 9-12 months. But it’s not unheard of for the larvae to take up to 3 years before they develop into pupae and adult carpet beetles. The adults can be found outdoors, where they feed on pollen and nectar. The females choose to lay their eggs (appx. 40) in dark places near a food source suitable for their larvae. In Nature, the larvae predominantly feed on animal-based matter (feathers, dead insects and animals). However, if the female carpet beetle ventures indoors to lay its eggs, the larvae would attack organic textiles, fur, paper and stored food products.

What types of damage can carpet beetles cause

Vantage_DS /

As we’ve now learnt, carpet beetles can infest your property and cause significant damage to your belongings. But how do you identify a carpet beetle problem? Well, for a start, you may notice first live or dead adult carpet beetles on your window sills, on the floor, under furniture or even in your kitchen cupboards. The sight of insects inside or around your property means that almost certainly eggs have been already laid and are hatching on your carpeting, in wardrobes or inside food storage units.

As you can probably guess, these destructive insect pests can cause damage not only in private homes but also in public spaces like museums or in various places of business. Carpet beetles are a real concern if you:

  • Own natural or mixed-fibre rugs and carpets, as well as furs;
  • Manage a certain type of a museum;
  • Have a strong interest in taxidermy;
  • Run a retail or manufacturing business that works with animal-based textiles and products.

So, if you check closely your wool rug, leather items or silk dresses, you may well spot the damage – holes, thinning of the material in places or bald patches. In addition, the larvae can attack certain spices and dry foods, such as grains and cereals. Therefore, it’s worth checking your pantry and cupboards in the kitchen.

Let’s now list below the type of materials that carpet beetles’ larvae can damage:

  • Fur and leather products
  • Suede and some types of velvet
  • Silk, wool, animal skins, some types of bedding and curtains
  • Organic and mixed-fibre carpeting, rugs and upholstery
  • Certain types of underfelt
  • Felt and pads in musical instruments
  • Animal trophies and decorative artefacts
  • Cushions and pillows’ feather stuffing
  • Paper products and bookbinding adhesives
  • Brushes with bristles made from natural materials
  • Wigs
  • Stored grains and pet food

To note here, carpet beetles can damage even non-organic materials and synthetic textiles if there are some animal-based remnants or residues on them like sweat, blood, pet dander and hairs, human hair and dead skins, etc. Furthermore, dusty and unmaintained surfaces can also attract the larvae, which would happily munch on dust mites, other insects’ eggs and so on. So, don’t be surprised if you see some damage on your dog’s bed made from polyester, for instance.

Are carpet beetles harmful to humans?

Many people wonder if carpet beetles bite and cause allergies. Well, an adult beetle has no reason to bite people or pets. However, it’s been researched that prolonged contact with the insects’ larvae can cause allergic reactions, such as itchy red eyes, runny nose, as well as skin irritation and burning hives that can resemble bedbug bites. To be fair, these side effects are rare.

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How to prevent a carpet beetle infestation

Ekaterina Pryakhina /

Carpet beetle infestations take a bit of time to develop. So, it’s important to notice the first signs of the insects’ presence and act upon them straight away. For instance, adult carpet beetles are attracted to light, so make sure that you turn off lights when not in use. Avoid using very bright outdoor lighting, as well. Also, it makes sense if you have fly screens on windows and doors to prevent the adults from sneaking into your property.

In addition, seal gaps and cracks can be used as entry points. Last but not least, inspect potted plants and bouquets of flowers you’ve just purchased, as adult carpet beetles feed on them, their nectar and pollen.

Furthermore, proper housekeeping and cleaning maintenance are a must if you want to prevent carpet beetles from multiplying uncontrollably. On that note, if you spot some adult specimens, make sure to inspect all potentially affected areas and surfaces around your property and clean them thoroughly. Vacuum throughout floor surfaces, carpets and upholstered furniture. Check, also, birdhouses, dog kennels, pet beds and beddings.

Have a good look in food cupboards, as well as wardrobes, where you keep clothing and accessories made from organic materials. Keep anything that can serve as a food source to the larvae sealed in bags and plastic containers.

Ensure your property is free of other types of vermin, be it insects or rodents. Remove cobwebs in due time, too.
To sum up, maintain your home or place of business clean at all times.

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How to get rid of carpet beetles

whitejellybeans /

Cleaning surfaces and washing items made from natural fibre are not only preventative steps against a “budding” carpet beetle infestation. If you already have this type of pest problem, the above actions will be your first line of defence against the nuisance insects, too.

You can also try the following tips on how to get rid of carpet beetles naturally:

  • Use diluted vinegar to wipe affected hard surfaces.
  • Sprinkle Borax or Diatomaceous Earth on upholstered furnishings and carpets. The grubs-like larvae and any adult carpet beetles will be killed in an instant.
  • Throw away already damaged clothing and items to stop the issue from becoming worse.
  • Give steam cleaning a try, too, and sanitise your carpeting.

If, however, the above measures don’t work due to the severity of the infestation, you may need to apply a professional carpet beetle larvae treatment with the use of the right insecticide. On that note, to make sure you get effective results, it’s best if you resort to a professional insect control service.

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  • Carpet beetle damage is caused by the insects’ larvae.
  • They feed on organic materials, animal matter, dead insects, animal-based products, etc.
  • To prevent a carpet beetle infestation, stay vigilant, seal gaps, store items at risk properly and maintain your property clean.
  • You can try natural methods to kill carpet beetles and their larvae, but if the problem is too big, entrust the job to a professional.

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Did you find our post helpful? Have you dealt with carpet beetles in the past? Then, please, tell us how you got rid of them in the comments below!

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