What Are Carpet Beetles?
Those holes in your rugs, upholstery, and clothing can be a sign that your home may be harbouring carpet beetle larvae. Carpet beetles, as its name suggests, live within carpets, rugs, and other furniture.
While the adults thrive mostly on garden plants, their offspring gorge on natural fibres available in our homes. Larvae feed on a variety of plant and animal-based material: from wool and feathers, to pantry staples like grains, spices, and dried pasta.
What Causes Carpet Beetles?
Unfortunately, carpet beetles can be a sign of improper sanitation and cleaning in a home. Dirty carpets make for ideal environments for carpet beetles and their larvae, as they also feed off dead skin and hair that naturally fall off into carpets and floors. Bugs love damp areas, so any unfixed leaks on or near upholstery present as free real estate for pests to thrive in.
Infestations often start from dark, unbothered areas in homes which are not regularly cleaned, like attics, storage rooms, closets, and dark corners in bathrooms. Carpet beetles can also be caused by bringing in items from an infested home where an adult beetle or beetles have latched on.
Other than homes, carpet beetles can also show up in offices, especially without proper cleaning and routine pest control.
Since offices are usually empty at night when the bugs are active, carpet beetles can wreak havoc on office chairs, leather sofas, curtains, and other fixtures. They can hide in small crevices during the day, and can expand the colony through the entire building if left untreated.
Where Do They Come From?
Carpet beetles are introduced into the home through an adult beetle flying in through windows, or hitchhiking on cut flowers, animal furs, and leather. Adult carpet beetles are mostly active at night, and are attracted to bright indoor lights.
Once in the home, adult carpet beetles lay eggs in dark, damp corners where their larvae can have a steady supply of food. Seeing adult carpet beetles in your home means eggs and larvae have already settled indoors.
How Serious Are They?
Carpet beetles and their larvae don’t bite or suck blood, but they can do extensive damage to food and furniture if left to multiply. Generations of larvae will continue to feed off natural fibres, leaving holes in your clothes and fabrics.
The larvae, called ‘wooly bears’ for their hairy appearance, can also irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions on contact. Carpet beetles also shed their exoskeletons, leaving behind a great deal of off-putting particles and excrement in areas of your home.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
Found that your home has been invaded by carpet beetles? Thankfully, there are a multitude of ways to get rid of these pests.
- Vacuum Visible Colonies - On the first sighting of infestation, vacuum up as much of the visible colonies as you can. Eggs and larvae measure around 1/2mm to 5mm, making them difficult to spot individually. However, since most colonies cluster around one area at a time, vacuuming these areas regularly can eventually get rid of the infestation.
- Wash Infested Fabrics - Wash fabrics such as sofa covers, beddings, and clothes that have signs of infestation with soap and hot water to kill both the eggs and larvae. Wash and change sheets daily to control carpet beetles from re-infesting your fabrics.
- Use Residual Pesticides - Use pesticides that will stay on surfaces long after it has dried. This heightens the chance of killing carpet beetle larvae as they emerge from their eggs, preventing them from maturing and starting a new colony in your home.
- Place Traps - Situate traps around infested areas. Some readily available traps around the market are made specifically for fabric beetles, and are effective with adult and larval stages alike.
- Call Professional Services - If the infestation is too advanced for DIY treatment, you may need to call professional cleaning and pest control services to rid your home of carpet beetles.
How to Prevent Carpet Beetles
Preventing an infestation or a re-infestation of carpet beetles is key in keeping them at bay. Before a colony can even start, best to conduct proper sanitation and storage of items to prevent carpet beetles from entering your home.
- Keep Areas Clean - The best preventive is to keep your home clean and tidy, ensuring there are no places for these pests to hide. Make sure fabrics are properly dried before being kept, and any liquid spilled on rugs and carpets are dried immediately.
- Install Bug Screens - Since adult beetles fly, installing bug screens on doors and windows will prevent pests from flying in and starting a colony in your home.
- Store Food Airtight - Keep bugs away from your pantry by properly storing food in airtight containers, and cleaning up after spills.
- Inspect Items - Inspect items, especially animal-based items and plants, before bringing them into your home to catch any hitchhiking beetles that may start an infestation in your home. Best to dust off plants before entering, and thoroughly clean fabrics with soap and water before storage.
- Routine Disinfection - Maintaining sanitation in your home and office can prevent carpet beetles and other pests from creating infestations.
Say Goodbye to Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles pose more of a nuisance than an immediate danger. However, the infestation of carpet beetles, if left untreated, can become quite a serious problem for homeowners as they will literally eat you out of house and home. Maintaining cleanliness around the house is the best way to keep bugs from thriving in your living areas, and can keep carpet beetles at bay.
Besides homes, offices and schools are also susceptible to carpet beetles. Routine sanitation and pest control services can offer preventives for carpet beetles and other pests.