While many pests are simply a nuisance by their presence, carpet beetles are particularly hated because they actually do damage to items within the home. A carpet beetle infestation can leave clothes, carpets and furniture around your home full of holes. As the larvae feed, they leave a trail of destruction behind them. You may open boxes of clothing that were stored away for the season only to find that items you thought were in safe keeping have been destroyed by these hungry little pests.
Adult carpet beetles feed on flowers and are actually beneficial in gardens. The larvae, however, feed on animal fibers such as leather, fur, silk, feathers and wool. They are usually found in dark areas that don’t get disturbed very often. This could be in clothing that doesn’t get removed from the closet very often, clothing stored in attics or basements, underneath furniture and under or around the edges of wall to wall carpeting where hair and pet dander tends to build up. If an infestation goes unnoticed, the damage they do can become impressive.
These insects are found just about everywhere and can invade any home. If you suspect you’ve got these pests in your home, you’ll want to get them under control and get rid of them as soon as possible to prevent or minimize the damage they do. Let’s look at some ways to prevent and deal with a carpet beetle infestation.
Seal cracks: The adult carpet beetles usually make their way into homes to lay eggs through cracks and crevices, or improperly sealed doors and windows. The adult is only a few millimeters long, actually smaller than the larvae, so they don’t need much room to get inside. Make sure cracks and crevices are sealed and that doors and windows close properly. This will make it more difficult for them to get inside in the first place.
Pets: Keep pet areas clean. Pay special attention to areas where pets eat and sleep. Clean them regularly and well. These areas are a favorite location for the larvae to find a virtually unlimited supply of food. Be sure to vacuum and wash pet beds regularly.
Vacuum infested areas: If you’ve located an area where there seem to be many larvae, vacuum this area thoroughly for several days. You want to get rid of the food source they are feeding on, if possible, and also collect as many eggs and larvae as you can. The larvae do not reproduce, they come from eggs laid by adults. So, if you can catch them in the vacuum they will not return as long as there are no adults to lay more eggs in the home. Vacuum bags should be disposed of promptly, sealed in a plastic bag or disposed of in an outside trash receptacle to prevent any escapes back into the home.
Clean clothes/fabrics: Carpet beetle larvae are especially attracted to clothes and fabrics that are stained with food or body oils and perspiration. Obviously, if you find a problem in any of your clothes, you’ll want to wash them as soon as possible, but make sure to properly wash furniture upholstery or blankets that might become targets as well.
Moth Balls: Naphthalene balls, commonly known as moth balls, work well for keeping these clothes munching pests away. They may leave a slight odor on your stored clothing, but that is far easier to deal with than finding half of your wardrobe full of holes when you pull it out of storage. Throw a few moth balls into boxes or bags where you store clothing or blankets.
Bird nests: If you’ve got trees around your home, check for bird’s nests close to windows or other openings. It might sound cruel, but you’ll want to remove or relocate these if possible. Because of the abundance of feathers, they are a favorite place for adult carpet beetles to lay their eggs.
Chemical Sprays: As a last resort, you can, of course, use insect sprays to repel or kill the beetles and the larvae. If you have a problem that you are having difficulty controlling with more natural methods, it is best to consult a pest control expert before using any chemical pesticides. It is even more important in this case because you are often dealing with clothing or furniture items that will be in close contact with your body.