How to Tell the Difference Between Bed Bugs and Carpet Beetles

Many people confuse the common, and relatively* harmless, carpet beetle with bed bugs. Here’s how to tell the difference.

How to tell the difference between bed bugs and carpet beetles

Immature bed bugs (nymphs) and adult bed bugs both bite. Bed bug nymphs are very small, pale tan, but have the same sesame seed shape as adult bed bugs.

Bed Bug Nymphs on Bed Frame

Bed Bug Nymphs on Bed Frame

Carpet beetle adults look like beetles. These pests are commonly found eating pollen and nectar in the garden, but adult carpet beetles are rarely spotted inside the house. They are sneaky!

Adult Carpet Beetles Eating Pollen

Adult Carpet Beetles Eating Pollen

Carpet beetle larvae are the critters that get mistaken for bed bugs, because they are commonly found in bedrooms. That is where the similarity stops. Carpet beetle larvae are fuzzy, about 1/4 inch long, and shaped like a stubby cigar. They feed on a variety of animal products such as wool, silk, leather, fur, dead insects, pet hair, and feathers. They are usually spotted on walls when they crawl away from food sources to find a nice place in order to pupate.

Carpet Beetle Larva

Carpet Beetle Larva on Wall

*We say carpet beetles are relatively harmless because they don’t bite. However, they can be very destructive to clothes and furnishings and are the cause of Carpet Beetle Dermatitis. Carpet Beetle Dermatitis is an acquired allergic reaction to carpet beetle larval hairs and hemolymph (insect blood). These hypersensitivity reactions are characterized by an intense itching and rash. Additionally, irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes may develop. 


At Thrasher Termite and Pest Control, we make homes healthy through effective pest control, termite inspections, and termite control.  No gimmicks, no nonsense, and when we’re done, no pests. Satisfaction Guaranteed. We’re licensed, bonded and insured. Our family owned business has offices in Silicon Valley

[408-354-9944] and in San Diego [619-955-5121].

SERVICES: Termite Inspections, Termite Treatments, Termite Repairs, Pest Control and Eradication: control of Ants, Bed Bugs, Bees, Beetles, Carpet Beetles, Cockroaches, Rats, Mice, Rodents, Flies, Mosquitoes, Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets, Fleas, Ticks, Pantry Pests, Earwigs, Crickets, Flies, Scorpions, Spiders, and more.

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About the Author:

Garrett Thrasher is Vice President and General Manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., Chairperson of the San Diego District of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the bedbugFREE network, and a member of the National Pest Management Association. Author of The Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention (ISBN: 1500838209), Garrett’s solid understanding of bed bugs, their behavior, current outbreaks, and experience on camera has made him a leading contact for news and media outlets. He is also a sought after speaker on the topic of managing online reviews for positive impact. He has spoken at PestWorld and PestTech, and was featured in PCT Magazine and the PCT Podcast. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal is accredited by QualityPro–the mark of excellence in pest management.

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