SIZE: Carpet beetles are very small. Larvae are up to one-fourth of an inch long and the adults are miniscule, round and one-sixteenth of an inch long.
COLOR: These beetles are typically tan, but are covered in scales that may be black, brown or white. They also have patches of stiff hair on their bodies.
BEHAVIOR: Carpet beetles, which are fabric pests, are not dangerous to humans. They are, however, capable of causing harm to your property. The larvae seek out natural fibers to eat, including wool, feathers and cashmere. Adult carpet beetles feed on nectars and pollens. Areas in which they have fed are sometimes confused with moth damage. An easy way to determine what has been eating your fibers is to look at the pattern of the damage. Moths typically leave a trail of holes, whereas carpet beetle larvae eat holes in a larger contiguous area.
The carpet beetle looks for locations that offer it access to natural fibers, feathers and animal hair. Outdoors they are found in animal burrows and birds’ nests. These pests are also found in museums, warehouses and homes. Indoors, they are often found in closets, where they have access to many types of natural fiber. They are also common in dried flower arrangements or potpourri, especially those that contain cattails. It is not uncommon to find them below rugs and carpeting or locations where discarded human or pet hair may gather.
Removing a carpet beetle population typically requires the help of a pest management professional. There are, however, a few things you can do to minimize your home’s draw for these pests:
Avoid storing clothing in basements, garages or the attic.
Instead of cardboard boxes, try plastic storage units that zip or have an airtight lid.
If clothing is stored in boxes, ensure the containers used are clean and airtight. Consider using tape to cover any openings and the corners.
Mothballs may repel carpet beetles, but will leave your items with a strong scent. Only use this method if you are prepared to have clothing cleaned and aired-out upon its removal from storage.
Never store dirty clothing. Always make sure that clothes are properly washed or dry-cleaned prior to storage.
If seasonal clothing is kept in closets, consider investing in plastic garment covers for wool, silk and other natural fiber-containing items.
A pest management professional may need to use several methods together to fully remove carpet beetles from your home. Be sure to discuss all your options when you consult with them.