As a homeowner, you will discover over time that you share your living quarters with a variety of creepy crawlies, both small and tiny. One of the places in your home which provides shelter for these types of pests is your carpet and rugs. In addition to the “ick” factor of knowing you have little creatures underfoot, some of these common indoor pests can cause damage to your home and belongings. Contrary to popular belief, carpet beetles do not just live in your carpet–which means that you can have a problem with these pests even if you only have hardwood or tile floors. In this post, we’ll talk about carpet mites, what causes carpet beetles, where carpet beetles come from and how to avoid a carpet beetle infestation.
Although you may see the terms carpet mites and carpet beetles used interchangeably, these two pests are actually quite different. Carpet mites is a term which generally refers to a type of house dust mite which measures about one-fourth of a millimeter. These creatures are actually not insects; they are arachnids with eight legs which are too small to see with the naked eye. House mites are highly adapted to live inside your home. Being so small, these creatures can live almost anywhere, including on and within furniture, carpets and stuffed animals. You can even have dust mites in bed and have a grain mite infestation in your pantry.
House mites feed on small pieces of human skin that we shed every day. Do carpet mites bite? Contrary to popular belief, these minuscule creatures do not bite humans, but they can cause an allergic reaction which can manifest as skin irritation which is easily confused with being bitten. House mites can thrive in any home, no matter how clean it is. Symptoms of a dust mite allergy include having a runny nose, sneezing, getting a stuffy or itchy nose and coughing. If you have a severe reaction to dust mites and happen to suffer from asthma, you might experience wheezing and chest tightness because of mites.
Image credit: Patrick Randall
What Causes Carpet Beetles?
Although carpet beetles may not impact your health, they are notorious for damaging your belongings.
As their name implies, they can destroy carpets. But they can also wreak havoc on upholstery, clothing, bedding and other household items. Often their infestations go on for long periods of time without detection, and your prized possessions may be ruined without you realizing it. It pays for you to know what causes carpet beetles before they start causing problems for you.
What Do Carpet Beetles Look Like?
Adult beetles have different sizes and colors, but most are between one-tenth of an inch and three-sixteenths of an inch long. They may look mottled with black, brown, and white or be solid black, depending on the species. Their larvae are grublike and covered with hairs. You will notice shed skins that look like little shells; seeing these around your home is one sign of an infestation.
Where Do Carpet Beetles Live?
Carpet beetles congregate wherever animal fibers can be consumed. These types of materials carpet beetles routinely feast on include wool, felt, leather, silk, fur and feathers. These beetles may also eat synthetic fabrics if they are soiled with food or oils. You may occasionally find carpet beetles in your pantry, feeding on grains. Carpet beetles like to gather in dark, low-traffic places in your home like closets, storage areas, your attic, in air ducts and of course, underneath your carpet. You may also find live beetles in your windows in the spring and summer months.
Where Do Carpet Beetles Come From?
These insects enter your home through windows, doors and any other cracks or openings. They feed on flowers outside your home and fly inside to find more food. Although this is the typical reason these beetles make it inside your home, they may also enter your home through a bird or animal nest in your attic.
If your home is not cleaned or kept up on a regular basis, you can face carpet beetle infestation. Poor housekeeping, stained clothing and careless storage are three risk factors for carpet beetles.
What Damage Can Carpet Beetles Cause?
Although carpet beetles are not dangerous to humans, they are definitely harmful to your belongings. They will destroy your carpets from the bottom up. If your couch or chair is upholstered, they can chew the covering to pieces. They will also create holes in clothing with animal fibers, such as wool sweaters, silk blouses and fur coats. Any box of undisturbed clothing or blankets is also a target for a carpet beetle.
How Can You Avoid A Carpet Beetle Infestation?
There are a few ways to keep carpet beetles from feasting on your fibers. First, be a good housekeeper. Vacuum and mop your floors often. Change your air filters in your heating and cooling system regularly. Keep your clothes clean, and don’t store clothes with untreated stains. It’s best to store clothing and blankets made from animal-based fibers in sealed plastic bags with layers of paper between thick stacks. You can also store items in tightly sealed wooden boxes or trunks. Make sure to check your storage areas regularly for infestation and rotate materials in storage.
Wash or vacuum your curtains and rugs frequently to keep beetles from hanging out underfoot. Don’t forget to clean any taxidermy mounts with fur–carpet beetles may be attracted to them also. If your bedding or pillows are stuffed with feathers, it may be best to throw them away if an infestation occurs. Also, make sure to inspect your attic and crawl spaces often to remove any bird nests or animal matter. Be prompt about throwing away any sources of lint, animal hair or old clothing. Make sure to regularly empty your vacuum bag or storage container, as eggs can hatch and larvae can grow inside if left unattended.
Think about placing outdoor flowers away from the entrances to your home. If you bring cut flowers indoors, first inspect them for insects. You don’t want to unwittingly bring carpet beetles inside with your bouquet.
Pests Are No Match for ABC’s Expertise
If you are worried that you might have a carpet beetle infestation, the best thing to do is to call in the experts. The professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services can inspect your home for signs of damage, identify what type of pest is causing your problems and suggest a course of action. A consistent treatment schedule will decrease the chances that carpet beetles–or any other indoor pest–will enter your home and take up long-term residence.