Carpet beetles are tiny pests whose larvae can damage furniture, carpets, beds, upholstery, and clothing. They might be small but can cause significant damage if left unchecked. In this section, you’ll learn more about these beetles, their life cycle, and why getting rid of them is essential.
Understanding Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles come in various species, but the most common are:
- The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci).
- The black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor).
- The furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus flavipes).
Adult beetles are oval-shaped, hairless, and about 2-4 mm long. They are usually black or brown with an intricate pattern of white, brown, or yellow scales on their body.
On the other hand, the larvae for the black furniture beetle are fuzzy, carrot-shaped critters that grow up to 4-5 mm long. Then, the larvae for the furniture carpet beetles will have clumps of hair (hastisetae) all over.
A carpet beetle infestation starts when adult beetles lay their eggs in dark and undisturbed areas, such as corners of your closet, under furniture or sometimes even your car (learn more about carpet beetles in cars). After hatching, the carpet beetle larvae feed on natural fibers, such as wool, silk, and pet hair. The life cycle of a carpet beetle typically lasts between two to four months but can extend to over a year, depending on the conditions.
While carpet beetles themselves are not harmful to humans, their larvae can be. As the larvae grow, they molt and shed their skin. When these shed skins and larvae come in contact with human skin, some people may experience an allergic reaction leading to rashes and itching.
ELIMINATING carpet beetles requires a plan, diligence, and natural remedies like vacuuming, washing fabrics in hot water, and using natural repellents.
Spotting Signs of Infestation
When you suspect a carpet beetle infestation in your home, the first step is to conduct a thorough inspection. Check indoors and outdoors, as these pests can reside in various areas.
Look for accumulations of dust bunnies, particularly near vents, windows, and cracks. Focus on areas where you have natural fibers, such as box springs, headboards, furs, linen, silk, upholstered furniture, textiles, leather, and taxidermied animals.
Carpet beetles can cause damage to your clothing, fabrics, and other belongings made from natural fibers. Inspect your items for small holes and other signs of damage.
Pay special attention to upholstered furniture, as carpet beetles often nest in the upholstery. If you notice any damage, it is vital to take action to get rid of the infestation and prevent further destruction.
Beetle Life Cycle
Understanding the carpet beetle life cycle can help you effectively tackle the infestation. The beetles lay white or red eggs in the spring, which hatch into larvae. The larvae are the primary culprits behind any damage to your home and belongings, as they feed on natural fibers.
As the larvae mature, they become adult beetles and continue the life cycle. Recognizing the different stages in the life cycle is crucial to controlling and eliminating the infestation in your home.
Natural Remedies for Beetle Infestation
Vacuuming is your number-one defense against carpet beetles! Regularly vacuum your carpets, upholstery, and other areas where carpet beetles and their larvae might hide. Make sure to clean any pet hair, dust, and lint to limit the food sources for these pests. Empty the vacuum cleaner’s bag and dispose of it in an airtight container to prevent re-infestation.
Use a steam cleaner on your carpets, curtains, and upholstery to kill carpet beetles and their larvae. The heat will sanitize these items and kill any larvae and eggs. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands during the process.
Seal Up Cracks and Crevices
Inspect your home for any cracks and crevices where carpet beetles can enter. Seal these minuscule openings with caulk or another appropriate material. Pay particular attention to window frames, doorways, and wall edges.
Keep Screens on Your Windows
Install screens on your windows to keep carpet beetles from entering your home. Regularly inspect the screens and repair any damage or holes to maintain their effectiveness.
Learning Where Carpet Beetles and Their Larvae Hide
Identify areas in your home where carpet beetles and their larvae are most likely to hide. These may include dark, undisturbed spaces like closets, basements, box springs, mattress seams, and underneath furniture. The larvae are frequently referred to as bedworms (carpet beetle larvae). Regularly clean these areas to eliminate their preferred habitats.
Keep Anything Made from Animals (Wool, leather, or silk) in Airtight Containers.
Keeping these items in airtight containers is the way to go. Minimizing what the larvae can feed on will help control them. Each method will not work independently; instead, you must combine them.
Learning What Carpet Beetles and Their Larvae Eat
Carpet beetles and their larvae seek organic materials like hair, dander, feathers, and lint. The adult seeks animal fibers to lay their eggs so the larvae can feed.
Keep these materials to a minimum by regularly washing your bedding, rugs, and clothing. Launder these items with laundry detergent in a washing machine and store them in airtight containers when not in use.
Sticky Traps / Glue Boards
Strategically use sticky traps or glue boards to catch adult carpet beetles or larvae. Place the traps near areas where you’ve seen the beetles or places like the back of the closet or inside your box spring.
Consider using natural insecticides like vinegar, boric acid, or apple cider vinegar to eliminate carpet beetles. Essential oils like cedar and peppermint oil can also help repel these pests. When using these methods, follow safety instructions and apply them carefully to avoid harm to your family and pets.
How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles Naturally with Essential Oils
There are reports on several essential oils that have repellent properties against carpet beetles and their larvae. These oils contain compounds that are often unappealing to insects.
Cedarwood Oil for Carpet Beetles
Cedarwood Oil: Cedarwood oil is famous for its insect-repellent properties and can be effective against carpet beetles.
Lavender Oil for Carpet Beetles
Lavender Oil: Lavender oil has a strong fragrance that can work to repel various insects, including carpet beetles.
Peppermint Oil for Carpet Beetles
Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil’s strong scent is unappealing and repelling too many pests, including carpet beetles.
Clove Oil for Carpet Beetles
Clove Oil: Clove oil is another essential oil with a strong scent that can be a repellent for carpet beetles.
Eucalyptus Oil for Carpet Beetles
Eucalyptus Oil: Eucalyptus oil is famous for its insect-repellent properties and may help keep carpet beetles at bay.
Thyme Oil for Carpet Beetles
Thyme Oil: Thyme oil contains compounds that can act as natural repellents for insects, including carpet beetles.
Neem Oil for Carpet Beetles
Neem Oil: Although not an essential oil, neem oil is often included in discussions about natural insect repellents and can be effective against a range of pests.
When using essential oils as a repellent, it’s important to remember that they should be diluted appropriately before use, as they can be potent and may cause damage to certain materials or irritation to the skin if used undiluted. Additionally, use essential oils cautiously around pets, children, and adults, as some can be toxic if ingested or applied directly to the skin. Use any essential oils at your own risk.
To use essential oils as a repellent for carpet beetles, you can create a spray by mixing a few drops of the oil with water and a small amount of mild soap to help emulsify the oil.
Spray this mixture in areas where you find carpet beetles or places you want to protect from them, such as closets, drawers, or around carpets and rugs. Always patch test an inconspicuous area first to ensure the essential oil does not damage the material.