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Carpet beetles are among the most common insects found in homes around the country. There are many different species of carpet beetles that can be found in different regions. The most common is the “varied carpet beetle” and it lives up to its name by taking on many forms. The mature beetles are around 1/8 of an inch long and have an oval body shape while larvae are typically the same length. Adults are usually brown with colored scales that present in many different patterns.
Carpet beetles are pests that feed off of things in your home that have some sort of animal origin. They could be found in anything from your trash can to a goose-down pillow. They originally acquired the name “carpet beetle” due to common infestations in woolen carpets. Carpet beetles will eat wool fabrics, but they will not infest synthetic fabrics that are commonly used in carpets today.
Infestations most commonly result from wild carpet beetle populations migrating to cooler areas in the heat of the summer. These cooler areas can be anything from a barn to a home. Infestations can start in areas as small as a pocket of household lint in a corner and move outward to the rest of your home.
Carpet beetle infestations are less likely to occur in homes that utilize mostly synthetic fabrics. Synthetic carpets, sheets, and clothes will not easily play host to carpet beetles when properly washed. However, carpet beetles can take still take hold in these environments depending on other factors. For example, collected dog hair in the corner of a room or under a couch can become infested with carpet beetles very quickly.
Common places to check for these infestations are under furniture, the bottom of trash cans, ground-level lint traps on HVAC intake vents and in containers holding certain types of animal feed.
Good housekeeping is the best way to keep carpet beetles away or to eliminate a small infestation. Keeping synthetic carpets clean of animal hairs or dust is a good start. Dust is largely dead human skin, which carpet beetles can consume. Keep all foods sealed whenever possible.
If the infestation gets severe, you may find that you need to take more extreme measures. There are commercially-available baiting traps that often work very well. The alternative is to work with a local pest control expert who can safely and effectively eliminate your carpet beetle problem.
Carpet beetles are incapable of biting a human in any perceptible way. Their mandibles are not large enough to inflict a painful bite and they carry no venom. Due to this there are virtually no health concerns from being bit by a carpet beetle.
However, there are potential health concerns when the beetles gain access to human foods. Cross-contamination can become a big risk in these food situations and this should be taken seriously.