There are several species of carpet beetles found throughout the United States. The more common species include the varied carpet beetle, the common carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle. Distant relatives include the hide and odd beetle. These beetles are amongst the most common pests found in homes. This is true because they usually don’t develop large populations which are easy to find. You’re more likely to find one or two every now and then but since they live in hidden areas “out of sight”, carpet beetles tend to be “out of sight, out of mind”. Unfortunately, their populations will readily grow and if left to feed as they wish, they can cause significant damage.
CARPET BEETLE BIOLOGY ^
Carpet beetles exist throughout the entire United States. They mostly live outside feeding on many types of plants. During the summer months, when populations are most active, they’ll find their way into homes through windows and open doors. Carpet beetles can fly so it is easy for them to get inside. It is not known why they seem ready to get into our homes, but its suspected there are certain scents or odors which lure them.
Like the common house fly, carpet beetles seem to know when doors or windows are open. If they enter at this time, they are usually looking for a place to lay eggs. Adults which have fed during the summer months mate and females will spend their time laying eggs. All types of carpet beetles resemble lady bugs but are smaller. in general, they’re about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of a lady bug.
The coloration of carpet beetles will vary. Like snow flakes, its not likely you’d find similar patterns on any two specimens unless they’re gathered from the same home. Only then is it likely they came from the same DNA.
Carpet beetle color will range from light to dark. You may find some with different colored spots on their wings; others will be solid in color. Although their look and coloration vary, a trained eye can properly identify them.
Once inside the home, female carpet beetle will look for a place to lay eggs. She will lay 50 to 100 eggs on surfaces that she expects will provide good food for hatching larva. In fact the larvae are the stage which cause the damage. They eat just about anything. Common food includes carpet, furniture, clothing, drapery, pet or human hair, antiques, and just about anything made with or has natural material on it. For example, most synthetic carpets have some natural content mixed in during the manufacturing process and can be food for carpet beetle larvae.
Carpet beetles ability to find food enables them to live on many items found in the home. Most people will find “pockets” of adults or larva. This is common on the underside of furniture, along the baseboard where carpet meets molding, under area rugs, or in closets. So don’t be surprised if you notice them in one small area but can’t find them elsewhere. But 3-6 months later, they turn up in another area of the home and are no longer active where you first saw them. This is classic carpet beetle behavior and very much “normal”.
Carpet beetles generally lay eggs just once a year but once established in the home, they may produce them more frequently. Adults live 2-4 weeks and can lay 100 plus eggs during their short life as adults.
WHERE DO CARPET BEETLES NEST ^
You may find a carpet beetle pocket nesting in a piece of furniture in the living room and then another group upstairs in your closet. These pockets could have been formed by different beetles coming in the home or a single egg laying female could have left the furniture downstairs and laid eggs in the closet. Because of this random behavior, its very much smart and necessary to treat all carpeting, furniture, etc. to insure some are avoiding the treatment. Many people will make the mistake of not treating certain areas or maybe ignoring their furniture. This is not recommended.
CLOSET INFESTED WITH CARPET BEETLES ^
The most frustrating type of carpet beetle infestation is one which is thought to be in a closet. In these scenarios, a piece of clothing is found which has a hole or two chewed in it and are immediately diagnosed as having been eaten by clothes moths. In fact its much more likely the insect causing the damage is a carpet beetle.
Moth infestations are easy to identify because you will see adult moths flying around the clothing. You will readily find adults, pupa casing or cocoons and larva in your clothing because they tend to stay where they are feeding.
But carpet beetles are very different. Once the larva feeds, they will generally move elsewhere to pupate. They won’t move far, but they usually won’t stay in the clothes and therefore its sometimes hard to find anything that might be causing the damage. When this happens, its a sure sign you have carpet beetles.
HOW TO TREAT FOR CARPET BEETLES ^
Controlling carpet beetle infestations can be difficult. This is true for several reasons.
First, they’re likely to be active in small areas but there are usually several such areas throughout the home. So unless you treat everything, its quite possible to miss a key area.
Second, they tend to be active in hidden areas. Unlike roaches, ants or flying pests, carpet beetles feed and nest out of sight. Though most pests learn to hide out of sight, they tend to feed where we are likely to see them so we know the pest, where its active, where we need to treat, etc. Carpet beetle infestations are more likely to be discovered because of the damage they do – not because large populations are being found.
Third, the cycle of the carpet beetle enables them to have a built in defense mechanism against treatments. Although larva and adults are easily killed, eggs and pupa are not. When you treat, it is likely you will kill adults and larva which are active. However, eggs and pupa can remain dormant and developing for many months. This enables them to avoid the residual treatment because it will have worn down and weakened to such a degree that they can get re-established.
To stop this from happening, its important to treat at least once a month for 3 months straight if not 4-5 times.
Here are some more guidelines that apply to carpet beetle problems to help insure a successful treatment program.
1) Be sure to treat all carpets. Though you may have synthetic carpeting throughout the home, don’t ignore it. Carpet beetles will readily target any fiber and you don’t want to miss even just one pocket of activity.
2) Don’t ignore area rugs. These are readily infested since they’re more likely to have natural fibers. Be sure to turn the edges up and to treat 2 feet “in” under the bottom side if not the entire bottom. Larva will feel right at home under area rugs and if you see some on top, there are probably more on the bottom.
3) Treat all fabric woven furniture. Be sure to turn furniture upside down and get their bottoms. If the light fabric on the bottom is hanging low or is torn, spray inside the piece. Larva and adults will readily seek such places.
4) Don’t skimp on chemical applications. Because carpet beetles tend to be deep in carpeting, its important to have good “penetration”. If you disperse the amount of mixed material over too large of an area, it may not get down deep enough where it needs to be. This will render the whole treatment ineffective.
5) Understand it will take time! Since eggs and pupa are impervious to the chemical treatment, they will continue to live. After 30-60 days, they may hatch and live as if you never treated if the original chemical has broken down. In fact this happens quite a bit which is why you should expect to spray 3-4 times for most any carpet beetle infestation. Now once under control, you may want to treat once every 3-4 months to make sure they don’t come back. More about these options will detailed below.
6) Clothing where infestations have been discovered needs to be inspected. Though you can spend a lot of money laundering all your clothes, its usually not needed. Take a vacuum to all your clothes for a quick and effective way to remove adults, larva, eggs or pupa. Be sure to throw away badly infested pieces.
7) Do a thorough vacuuming of the home before treating. This helps because it will remove some of the beetles as well as get them lifted “up” so they’re more vulnerable to the treatment. Basically the spray will have more of an impact if the beetles are stirred up.
The above guidelines are general and apply to most situations. If you have a unique problem which may need some further preparation, be sure to call for suggestions.
CARPET BEETLE SPRAYERS ^
Now that you’ve vacuumed and allowed for access to furniture and closets, you are ready to treat.
Treatments will generally be done with one of our SPRAYERS. Be sure to use one which has a nozzle that sprays in a flat fan. This means it comes out much like the way a paint brush applies paint – in a pattern which is uniform and constant. Nozzles which spray inconsistently will not allow the product to be uniformly distributed over surfaces. This will lead to areas not properly treated which will let the carpet beetles live. Our private label sprayer comes with the exact tip needed to do the job correctly so before you do anything, make sure you have a good sprayer for the job or get one of ours.
Watch this short video to see what a “fan pattern” looks like.
BEST CARPET BEETLE SPRAY ^
There are several chemicals available for carpet beetles but based on our results, the best is BITHOR. This material is odorless, will easily last a month and will knock the population down quickly. It uses two actives to get the job done and they work in tandem. The one is fast acting and irritates larvae getting them on the move. Even if you don’t spray them direct. The second component ensures their demise in 2-3 days so they can’t relocate anywhere safe. Mix 1 oz per gallon of water and expect to treat once a month for at least 3 months to ensure complete control. 1 gallon of Bithor mixed with our juvenile growth regulator below will cover about 800 sq/ft.
Now since there can be eggs throughout the infested area, it’s important to think “big” when spraying. This way you insure you get all stages sprayed – including any that might be hiding.
HOW LONG WILL CARPET BEETLE EGGS LIVE? ^
Since carpet beetle eggs can lay dormant for 3-6 months, it may be necessary to treat every month for 4-6 months to get complete control. Every case is different.
So in general, 3-4 treatments will resolve about 50-75% of the homes treated for carpet beetles. But for the other 25%, 4-6 treatments are needed. This is why some pest control companies will charge $1000.00 and up to do a job! Its very likely they will have to come back to the home several times and since there is no way to know how long any one population of carpet beetles will need treatments, they must insure they’re properly covered for a worse case scenario.
HOW TO KILL CARPET BEETLE EGGS ^
So to help insure you don’t miss any developing eggs, add INSECT GROWTH REGULATOR to your Bithor and use the two at the same time. Growth regulators are basically a juvenile hormone (protein) which is labeled for many pests like roaches, ants, etc. And when egg or larvae are exposed to this protein, they’re not able to properly develop into adults. This can help big time by ending the life cycle of the existing population.
Add 1 oz of IGR along with the 1 of of Bithor in a gallon of water for every 800 sq/ft of area to spray and you’ll be adding a big “helper” to the treatment.
Now remember, the Bithor will only last about a month so by adding a growth regulator to the tank mix, you can enhance your treatment and get longer protection without doing a lot of extra work.
Growth Regulator lasts 2-3 months and helps to stop the likelihood of re-infestations by controlling the young stages. And since there are so many locations for eggs to hide, every tool you’re able to add to your arsenal can make the difference between success and failure.
CARPET BEETLE DUST ^
Another “tool” that can help is DELTAMETHRIN DUST. Since liquid sprays are not well suited for all the areas carpet beetles may be active, the use of a dust can help. Remember, eggs and adults will many times be “up and inside” furniture hiding just below seat cushions and very much out of sight. How do you treat these areas without soaking the furniture? Well, you can’t.
Better suited for the job is either a dust or aerosol. For the underside of furniture, nothing beats a light dusting with Deltamethrin Dust. This product is light and a lot like baby powder so it permeate up and around the hidden area. And since treatments will last 6 months, you generally only have to treat once and you’re done.
Use a CRUSADER HAND DUSTER to apply the dust up and into the spaces and voids where carpet beetle love to hide. The duster is easy to use and will make treating easy.
Dusting is also ideal for getting coverage under baseboard molding. There is a big space in this area where carpets “tuck” under the wood. Carpet beetles love this location and regular liquid spray won’t get into the void adequately. But dusting with Delta Dust will take care of it for good, with just one treatment.
CARPET BEETLE AEROSOL ^
If by chance you have a small area to treat, like a single piece of furniture, area rug, hardwood or tiled floors, a closet or an automobile, go with MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER. It combines two actives along with a “cedar” smell that get carpet beetle larvae active. This causes them to move through the treatment and die.
The cedar odor won’t last long but the Permethrin will killing hatching eggs in the coming weeks. Treat twice a month when activity is noticed; once every 2-3 months for ongoing protection.
1 can will treat up to 1000 sq/ft and its water based so fine for use on all fabrics and even dogs. So yes, if you have a pet dog and need a good flea/tick/lice spray, this is safe enough for use on them too.
CARPET BEETLE TRAPS ^
Lastly, we have several carpet beetle traps which should be used to help control and monitor the problem.
Keep in mind the use of traps should not be considered a “solve all” mechanism. But they should be deployed with most carpet beetle control programs. They can help by identifying problem areas that may have been missed or they can help by alerting you to an outbreak of hatching eggs and/or pupae.
The first trap is our DERMESTID MONITOR. These “half dollar” sized discs are full of a food lure carpet beetle larvae like to eat. These monitors will attract larvae from several feet away. Set them in sensitive areas where they can serve as an early warning system to missed areas, newly hatched larvae, etc. Dermestid Monitors are NOT traps so any larvae you see foraging around, on or inside the discs need to be removed by hand, vacuum or piece of scotch tape. These traps are well suited for museums, clothing stores and rug warehouses where monitoring is helpful. In homes, the Larvae Traps listed next is the better option.
So for use in the home where carpet beetle larvae have been seen or found dead, set out CARPET BEETLE LARVAE TRAPS. These traps feature a high moisture level dermestid larvae cannot ignore. Once they enter, they’ll get stuck on the clear non drying glue.
Monitor your traps weekly and replace when most of the glue catches target insects. In general, these traps will remain active for 3-6 months but if you have active insects, replace every 3 months or sooner if they get filled.
For adult beetles, we have two kinds of CARPET BEETLE TRAPS available. The Hanging style can be set out around windows or large open areas where adults have been seen flying. Low profile traps should be deployed on furniture, carpets, rugs and under furniture where space is limited and tight.
How can you tell which carpet beetle specie is active? That’s easy. Varied Carpet beetles will be multi colored. Typically they’re light with different colores mixed in. These other colors will be odd shaped and each beetle will look unique and different.
Black carpet beetles will be solid in color. Typically they’re dark brown to black but can be dark gray too. The key to tell its a black carpet beetle is that the color will be consistent on its shell all the way around with no variation or odd discolorations randomly appearing.
Either trap will remain active for 2-3 months and should be set throughout the home. You can “mix and match” traps to take advantage of quantity discounts so if you have a mixed infestation, get some of both.
Also, its important to understand that carpet beetles will usually get “in the mood” 2-4 times a year so in general, there will be one month per quarter where the adult beetles should be attracted to the traps you set out. In other words, they may not collect beetles for 1-2 months and then all of sudden, several get caught. This is normal. Just be sure to inspect them 1-2 a month and replace them after 3 months if you suspect the problem is lingering. But for some, keeping fresh traps in the home year round is a good practice so any new outbreaks are easy to spot and control before damage is done.
CONTACT US ^
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