Carpet beetle larvae on a wall. Actual size is 3/8 inch long.
Carpet beetle larvae look like very, very small fuzzy caterpillars; however they are far from harmless. Carpet beetle larvae feed in dark, undisturbed locations on natural fibers such as wool and silk. They feed on animal products, such as leather, fur, hair brushes with natural bristles, pet hair, and feathers. Carpet beetle larvae occasionally feed on stored products such as certain spices and grains. They do not feed on synthetic fibers. Many people mistake the damage caused by carpet beetle larvae for that caused by clothes moths.
How to Identify a Carpet Beetle Problem
- Very small (3/8 in. or less) fuzzy caterpillar-like insects on clothing, walls, or windowsills
- Very small (1/8 in.) beetles: black, brown, or variegated brown and tan (particularly on windowsills)
- Small holes or shredded areas in natural fiber fabrics: cotton t-shirts and underwear; silk and linen garments and draperies
- Areas on wool clothing or carpeting that look as though the nap has been shaved
It is not always possible to tell whether fiber damage was caused by clothes moths or carpet beetles. In general, carpet beetle larvae are more likely to damage a large area on one portion of a garment or carpet while moth damage more often appears as scattered holes. Also, carpet beetle larvae leave brown, shell-like, bristly looking cast skins after they molt. These skins and the lack of webbing are usually good clues that the culprits are carpet beetles.
Because carpet beetles are often found in bedrooms, some people confuse them with bed bugs. Bed bugs do not look fuzzy.
Carpet beetles and carpet beetle larvae can also trigger rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma as indoor allergens in house dust.
Carpet Beetles Enter from Outside
Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen! They are common in Silicon Valley gardens. They are not considered a pest of the garden because they do not harm plants. When carpet beetle adults are found indoors, look for flowering plants outdoors. In particular, adult carpet beetles are attracted to: Shasta daisy, California poppy, Buckwheat daisy, Ceanothus, Crepe Myrtle, Dogwood, Pyracantha, Spirea, Wild Aster.
Carpet beetles eating Shasta daisy pollen.
Prevent carpet beetles by regular and thorough cleaning of rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets, and other locations where carpet beetles congregate. Vacuum frequently and then dispose of the vacuum bag promptly because it may contain eggs, larvae, or adult insects.
Protect fabrics by keeping them clean: food and perspiration stains on fabrics attract carpet beetles. Dry clean or launder items in hot water to kill all stages of these insects.
When carpet beetles are more than an occasional annoyance, professional pest control can rid your home of carpet beetles. Regular exterior service helps prevent carpet beetles from entering your home. Thrasher’s carpet beetle service always begins with a no-charge inspection to determine the extent of the problem and the best solution.