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WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CARPET BEETLES?

By Chris Williams on December 18, 2017.

There are four different species of tiny carpet beetles that can be found in homes. All of them infest woolens, furs, hides, feathers, pet hair and lint, felt, and other items of animal origin, including carcasses, dead insects, and animal or wasp nests (see Carpet Beetles Are Not Just in Carpets). But they can also feed on stored foods, including dry pet food, and miscellaneous crumbs. The brown, hairy larvae do all of the feeding damage. Adult beetles feed outside on flowering plants.

The adult beetles are very small (less than 1/8-inch long) and round-oval in shape. Most carpet beetles are marked with different colors of brown, white, black, reddish-orange or yellow in a calico pattern. But one carpet beetle is solid black. Here are the signs that you may have carpet beetles:

1. Thin, bare areas on wool or wool blend rugs. The beetle larvae feed in dark, hidden areas and are rarely seen. They tend to eat slits in wool rugs. They are usually found on the underside of rugs or carpets or are hidden deep within the pile.

2. Damage to wool clothes, blankets, etc. Carpet beetle larvae eat the nap from the surface of the fabric, leaving just basal threads, or they may eat holes completely through the fabric. Items that are soiled, especially those stored without cleaning, are most likely to be infested.

3. Hairs falling out of furs or trophy heads. When carpet beetle larvae feed on furs, animal mounts, or bristle brushes, they clip the hairs off at the base, leaving a bald spot but not damaging the hide beneath.

4. Shed larval skins in hidden areas. Carpet beetle larvae molt or shed their skins several times as they grow. These light brown, empty skins remain behind and can accumulate in areas where larvae are feeding. Look for shed skins on the underside of rugs, in folds or hidden areas on clothing or wool blankets, or under furniture or in corners where lint, pet hair, and dead insects collect.

5. Tiny beetles slowly climbing walls or dead at windowsills. When adult beetles emerge indoors, they have a need to get outdoors where they mate. In early spring especially, they head to light so you may see small dark dots on light-colored walls. Under magnification, you can see that they are calico-colored carpet beetles. See Carpet Beetles Often Climb Interior Walls in Spring.

It’s safe to say that almost every home has some carpet beetles somewhere so don’t freak out if you find a few. Carpet beetles can feed on so many different things that finding the source or sources isn’t always easy (see Carpet Beetle Source Can Be Hard to Find). If you have valuable woolen items or furs, check those, then increase vacuuming in hidden areas, clean up pet hair, and give Colonial Pest a call if you find a large number of carpet beetles or have an infested item.

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