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How to get rid of Carpet Beetles

Macro picture of a varied carpet beetle walking on a old sponge

Carpet Beetles nestle amongst your soft furnishings, laying eggs that hatch into larvae hungry for soft furnishings. Carpet Beetles don’t refer to just one type of beetle, but a whole family of Dermestid beetles that all feed on natural fibres. Read on to find out how to identify the UK’s common types of carpet beetle and most importantly, how to get rid of them.

These Beetles can damage your clothes, furnishing and yes, your carpet. Carpet Beetles have plagued museum collections. If an infestation is left unchecked, Carpet Beetles can do serious damage to your home and belongings.


What do Carpet Beetles look like?

Varied Carpet Beetle

The Varied Carpet Beetle (also known as Anthrenus verbasci) is the most common type of Carpet Beetle in the UK. It is a pill-shaped insect around 2-3mm in length, identifiable by the speckled pattern of yellow, black and white scales on its carapace. Varied Carpet Beetles have a squat head with 2 antennae protruding from it.  

Adult Carpet Beetles do not eat organic fibres. Instead, they consume pollen and feed from garden flowers. Female Adults lay around 40 eggs and seek out dark, undisturbed locations to do so.

Varied Carpet Beetle Larvae (Woolly Bears) and eggs

Wooly Bear Carpet Beetle Larvae

Varied Carpet Beetle larvae are unique. They can reach up to 5mm in length, longer than Adult Carpet Beetles. They are known as woolly bears for the long hairs that cover the length of their bodies. 

These hair growths are segmented, giving the impression that Carpet Beetle larvae are striped. Woolly Bears use these hairs for self-defence against predator insects like wasps. They can detach to cause mild allergic reactions in humans.

Woolly Bears are responsible for carpet and soft furnishing damage. They feed on chitin and keratin of organic fibres. This means that as well as carpets and soft furnishings, they may also feed on things like insect husks and bird feathers.

How long do Varied Carpet Beetles live?

Varied Carpet Beetles have quite long lifespans when compared to other common UK pests. Once grown, they last around a month depending on environmental conditions. However, larvae may take up to 10 months to grow into full adults. 

Although they may hatch quicker in warmer conditions, this is still a considerable amount of time for larvae to wreak havoc in your home. Getting rid of Carpet Beetles is very important to safeguard your carpets and soft furnishings.

Two-spot Carpet Beetle 

Two-Spot Carpet Beetle

The two-spot Carpet Beetle (Also known as Attagenus pellio and sometimes called the Fur Beetle) is also common in the UK. Adult Two-spot Carpet Beetles are around 5mm in length. They are predominantly black and are covered in microscopic white hairs. Their name derives from the two distinctive white spots, one on each wing. 

Two-spot Carpet Beetle Larvae and eggs

Like the Varied Carpet Beetle, Two-spot Carpet Beetle Larvae can grow even longer than their adult forms, reaching up to around 7mm in length. They are yellow, with dark orange segments and orange hairs. Two-spot eggs are tiny and white. Female Adults lay around 50 of these at once.

How long do Two-spot Carpet Beetles live?

Adult Two-spot Carpet Beetles usually live for around 3 months.

How can you detect a Carpet Beetle infestation?

Carpet Beetles leave many signs of their presence around the home. Look out for:

  • Moulted casings
  • Dead or live Carpet Beetles
  • Carpet Beetle larvae
  • Faeces. These are scentless tiny dark grains that usually present in clusters
  • Frayed edges of holes in carpets, clothes and leather materials.

What causes a Carpet Beetle infestation?

Unfortunately, Carpet Beetles can fly! They often enter homes through open windows and can hide in out-of-reach areas. They are attracted to warm places filled with organic fibres, which makes them the natural adversaries of museums and libraries all over the world. 

In nature, Carpet Beetles lay their eggs in and around bird nests, as dropped feathers and other nest materials provide sustenance for Wooly Bears.

Around the home, Carpet Beetles are attracted to: 

  • Heavily carpeted areas
  • Unsealed food containers containing cereals, pasta or pet foods
  • Unsecured clothes collections
  • Dust-covered items, ledges and floors 
  • Light sources

Carpet Beetles will gravitate towards homes rich in these things. They also enjoy feasting on taxidermied animals, which is why they can become a huge problem for museums. 

Do Carpet Beetles travel with you?

Carpet Beetles get into the home through:

  • Furniture
  • Bedding and other soft furnishings
  • Leather, cotton or any other clothes made with organic fibres.
  • Insect carcasses and dead skin

To ensure they don’t enter your home, follow these steps when bringing any new items high in organic fibres into the home:

  • Do a visual check for live Carpet Beetles
  • Thoroughly vacuum to remove any eggs, larvae or dead carpet beetles
  • Wash at a high heat (over 60°C if possible)

Are Carpet Beetles harmful?

Carpet Beetles do not pose much of a direct threat to humans, although they can cause skin irritation.

  • Hairs from Woolly Bears may get embedded into clothes. They can cause rashes and minor skin inflammations on close contact.
  • Carpet Beetle Larvae saliva and droppings can carry harmful bacteria.
  • If Carpet Beetles infest the kitchen, they can spoil uncovered foods. Secure all pasta, flour and dried pet food.
  • Carpet Beetles may track bacteria from outside into your home. Anywhere Carpet Beetles may have been should be disinfected after the infestation has been cleared.

Where do Carpet Beetles hide?

As well as anywhere with natural fibres (including, obviously, carpets!), Carpet Beetles are often found along window ledges and up high. They enter through skylights and windows. Properties near trees with an active bird population are especially at risk of infestation. Due to their diminutive size, they can conceal themselves:

  • Behind skirting boards
  • Under carpets 
  • Around floorboards
  • Air vents in kitchens and bathrooms. They can settle there from outside and feed on the dust within

Carpet Beetles have also been found inside cars with leather interiors. They get in through open windows and defects in car bodies. Cars with polyester and nylon upholsteries are safe from Carpet Beetle infestation, as they are artificial man-made fabrics.

How to get rid of Carpet Beetles

Ridding the home of Carpet Beetles is a multi-step process of:

  1. Detection
  2. Elimination
  3. Cleaning

Without ensuring that all three are successfully carried out in sequence, Carpet Beetles will survive, reproduce and continue to eat carpets and soft furnishings. We know all about detection, but prevention is the best form of pest control.

Preventing future infestations

Many things can be done to secure your home against future Carpet Beetle infestations.

  • Establish a regular vacuuming routine

The Vacuum Cleaner is a powerful weapon in preventative pest control. Try to vacuum 3 times a week to ensure a dust and Carpet Beetle-free carpet.

  • Undertake repairs on faulty seals
    • Windows
    • Roofing seals
    • Skirting boards
    • Carpet edges
    • Bathroom and Kitchen Vents

This will ensure that Carpet Beetles do not have easy access to the home.

  • Check roofs, lofts and adjoining trees for bird activity. Carpet Beetle infestations are often found in Pigeon and Sparrow nests. They can inhabit any species of bird nest.
    • Check the external roof area for birds and signs of bird activity like droppings and nests
    • Inspect lofts for the same
    • Remove bird nests from home
    • Regularly check trees next to the home for bird activity and remove nests if necessary

Tackling an active Carpet Beetle infestation

Regular Vacuuming is important to getting rid of Carpet Beetles

Treat the immediate, visible infestation

Live Carpet Beetles, larvae and eggs can be eliminated with an entire lifecycle spot treatment.

NOPE! CP Carpet Beetle Killer Spray:

  • can be applied directly to carpets to stop the infestation and provide a barrier for up to 3 months. Odourless and non-staining
  • can be deployed around the home thanks to its easy-to-apply handheld spray
  • offers up to three months of protection – break the Carpet Beetle life-cycle with long-lasting active control to ensure eradication
  • contains a low-toxicity Cypermethrin formula to ensure effective and safe Carpet Beetle control in and around the house
  • is Health & Safety Executive-approved for use in the home environment. Pro-quality pest control treatment

How to vacuum the home thoroughly

Make sure you vacuum the carpet properly.

  • Most people move the vacuum cleaner back and forth in a herky-jerky fashion – don’t! The fibres of your carpet run in a certain direction – this is called the nap. 
  • When vacuuming, you want to first run your vacuum cleaner against the nap. This should make the carpet “stick up”. Run your vacuum cleaner against the nap in a single row. Any dirt, Carpet Beetles and Eggs that were concealed within the nap are now exposed. 
  • Cover the ground you just went over in the opposite direction. Continue row-by-row until the carpet has been fully cleaned. 

Here are some more top tips for an effective pest control vacuuming regimen:

  • Thoroughly clean carpets using an upholstery cleaning attachment. Sweep the attachment along carpet edges. Vacuum under the carpet if possible.
  • Pay careful attention to skirting boards and under furniture. 
  • Make sure you vacuum bare cushions and pillowcases comprehensively. Carpet Beetles lay eggs inside dark and undisturbed areas.

How to clean clothes and furnishings to remove Carpet Beetles, Larvae and Eggs

All items that are suspected of coming into contact with Carpet Beetles, larvae and eggs must be washed. To ensure total elimination, wash clothes and soft furnishings at a temperature of at least 60°C. This will kill any live specimens. 

Once washed, shake and dry off outside if possible. This will ensure that all traces of Carpet Beetles are removed from the home.

Combat Carpet Beetles with NOPE!

NOPE! CP Carpet Beetle Killer Spray targets the entire beetle lifecycle in one treatment – get rid of adult Carpet Beetles, larvae and eggs.

The NOPE! formulation is odourless and stain-free, allowing you to apply the treatment directly to carpets. Suitable and safe for spot treatments around the house – HSE registered for everyday use. Long-lasting barrier protection offers up to 3 months of protection on an undisturbed surface.

Find out more about the NOPE! CP range of Pest Control Sprays.

For more information call
01403 210204