What are Furniture Carpet Beetles? Carpet beetles feed on a variety of dried organic products and cause no harm to people. Adult varied carpet beetles are about 1/16” to 1/8” long, and oval in appearance. They are easy to distinguish because they have gray, yellow, orange, brown, white, and/or black spots on their backs. The larvae are about 3/16” to ¼” long and wider at the end of the body than the head. They are cream colored with dark horizontal bands and sparse hairs throughout the body.
Biology & Behavior There is one generation of carpet beetles per year, and adult beetles are very short lived (about 14 to 44 days). Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen, and can enter from the outside. Adult carpet beetles found on window sills or by windows are usually indicative of a carpet beetle population that is established indoors. If a carpet beetle population is established indoors, it is important to conduct a thorough inspection to locate and remove the breeding source if possible.
Most residential homes have very low levels of carpet beetle activity, and most homeowners do not notice the existence of carpet beetle or larvae in their homes until they start looking for other pests (mainly bed bugs). Carpet beetles cause no harm to people.
Do They Cause Damage? The larvae are responsible for all the damage caused by feeding on dried organic products (such as wool rugs and clothing, furs, silk, leather, dried spices, pet food, and other food products, etc.). The larvae can also feed on dried dead insects. If you have an overwintering pest problem (i.e. yellow jacket nest), and there are dead insects trapped in a wall void, it is highly probable for carpet beetle larvae to feed on the dead insects and nests. It’s difficult to tell the difference between damage cause by clothes moths and carpet beetles; however carpet beetles are more likely to damage a large section on one portion of a garment or carpet, whereas moth damage often appears as scattered holes. Also, carpet beetle larvae leave brown, shell-like, bristly-looking cast skins when they molt. These skins, as well as a lack of webbing, are usually good indicators that carpet beetles are the perpetrators rather than clothes moths.
How do I Control Them? One of the best methods of control is thorough cleaning. Be sure to vacuum and regularly clean especially in areas that typically get less attention (behind sofas, under area rugs, behind wall hangings, etc.). By doing this, you will reduce the amount of hair, lint, dead insects, and other possible debris that may serve as a food source for Carpet Beetles. If you become aware of an infestation be sure to throw away, vacuum, dry clean, or store the item in a plastic bag in a freezer below 18°F for two weeks. If you vacuum up carpet beetles or larvae, dispose of the bag promptly. Any seasonal clothing, or decorations, made of organic materials should be stored in tightly sealed containers when not in use to prevent an infestation.
If the problem continues or is excessive at your NJ or Bucks County home, professional help may be necessary. Here at Cooper, we handle carpet beetle infestations on a case by case basis.