Carpet beetles are known to be home pests inhabiting carpets, furniture, leather products and furniture. As a rule, they are oval Attagenus beetles 2-5 mm long. Not all 200 species that are considered Attagenus prefer to live near people. We are most interested in three kinds of these pests. Today we’ll explain what causes carpet beetles, whether they live in beds, compare them to bed bugs, find out what methods you should use to deal with them and pick the 7 most effective sprays, powders and traps.
Adult beetles’ appearance resembles that of ladybugs, which is why some people don’t pay attention to them and don’t even think they are dangerous pest insects. Sometimes, they are also confused with cloth moths as both insects can damage woolen clothes. Remember that moth larvae leave random holes in clothes while the industrious carpet beetle’s larvae tends to gnaw out entire pieces of clothing or carpet. Moreover, carpenter beetle larvae shed their bristled brown skin when molting and that helps to identify them.
Table of Contents:
- Know Your Enemy: Carpet Beetle
- The Scientists’ Recommendations for Getting Rid of Carpet Beetles
- Top-7 Carpet Beetle Sprays, Traps and Dusts
The beetles lay eggs near food sources and household objects of vegetable or animal origin in dark places. Larvae hatch within two weeks and immediately begin to feed before pupating. The damage caused by them is visible on cloth, carpets or any other organic-made products. In fact, these larvae are scavengers and they will feed on other animals’ remnants if there is a chance. You can detect larvae at home by their typical bristly chitinous covers which they shed.
Adult beetles don’t do any harm to the household and feed on pollen. Be careful when cutting flowers though as you can also bring home some larvae that will gnaw your carpet and sweaters.
Let’s study the three most common carpet beetle species.
Varied Carpet Beetle
Adults are about 0.1 of an inch long, and have black elytra with random whitish, brown and yellow spots. You can encounter them in spring and at the beginning of the summer, near windows. Larvae have an elongated body thickly covered with brown hairs in lighter and darker strips. Larvae are larger than adults and can reach 0.2 of an inch.
Furniture Carpet Beetles
This species is slightly larger than the previous one but is also motley. Its elytra are black with random whitish, yellow and orange spots. Larvae are initially white and then gradually they darken to velvet.
Black Carpet Beetle
These larvae and beetles are monophonic and shiny. Black adults can grow to reach 1/8 – 3/6 of an inch, while brown larvae are usually larger and can be 5/6 of an inch long. Black carpet beetles are most spread in California.
Carpet Beetles vs Bed Bugs
Some people wonder whether carpet beetles live in beds. Sometimes they do. The answer to the question “Do carpet beetles bite?” though is a definite no. Carpet beetles are easy to confuse with bed bugs, but don’t worry: it’s quite easy to distinguish these insect species from one another.
|Carpet Beetles||Bed Bugs|
|Size||From 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch long||Up to ¼ of an inch long|
|Color||Black, brown, spotted||Brown or reddish black (for full bed bugs)|
|Habitat||Carpets, clothes, curtains, furniture, bed sheets||Mattresses, furniture, spots behind wallpaper and paintings|
|What do they feed on?||Cloth (leather, fur, wool and silk) and dead organic matter, i.e. skin particles, hair and feathers||Blood-feeding|
A grown blood-fed bed bug can reach ¼ of an inch. Bugs are brown, don’t have elytra or a long thick bristle like carpet beetles do. Instead, their paws extend beyond their body and they have a blood-sucking proboscis. Larvae and adults found in beds don’t bite; they merely consume exfoliated upper layers of skin and hair. They tend to live under covers in a secluded manner.
According to the University of California, primary protection lies in observing sanitary rules and timely cleaning. To minimize pest infestation, you should remove clusters of down, dead insects or hair as they serve as food for larvae. Beetles can use old cobwebs and birds’, wasps’ and rodents’ waste as nests for their eggs.
Clean the carpets, fabric upholstery, furniture and cabinet shelves regularly. Regular vacuum cleaning is sufficient. Carpet beetles are also attracted by dirty clothes that are sweaty or stained with food. By all means, wash your clothes after finding any pests in them.
The degree of the danger of beetles’ settling in the furniture depends on the level of their penetration. If it is deep enough, dry cleaning or fumigation are effective. Naphthalene can be used when storing clothes.
What Is Effective for Killing?
Carpet beetle traps is the first method. Their main peculiarity is that they act on adults. A beetle about to breed on the fertilized eggs reacts to pheromones and doesn’t reach its destination.
Boric acid is the organic second method. This substance is used in all kinds of life spheres: in medicine, in the food industry and in the fight against insect pests.
The University of Kentucky names other organic treatments, such as cedar and freezing. Newly hatched larvae die when exposed to cedar, but older larvae and adults are not affected. The heartwood of red cedar has a vapor that is toxic to larvae, but after cedar is more than 36 months old, it is useless for control. Bags containing cedar chips should be replaced regularly to help provide control. Freezing has also been used to kill carpet beetles. Infested materials should be placed in plastic bags and loosely packed in a chest freezer at -20°F for three days.
Sprays are effective for carpet treatment and for reaching inaccessible spots where the pests usually hide. Products containing hlorpyrifos, permethrin, bendiocarb and allethrin, are effective against carpet beetles, according to the University of Kentucky experts’ claim. Don’t use treatments containing these ingredients on clothes and bed sheets.
In extreme cases, when you are unable to deal with these pests on your own, consult professional exterminators.
The list below contains several insecticides containing deltamethrin, cyfluthrin and bifenthrin, as well as boric acid and insect traps. The scientists name such products and brands as Tempo SC Ultra, Demand CS, Suspend SC, DeltaDust, Kicker, and Ortho so we trust them. We’ve picked goods, both for home and professional use (highly concentrated ones), which are available online.
Among organic killers, scientists only name Boric Acid. Shops, however, sell eco-goods labeled Organic Home Pest Control and 100% organic insecticide containing such active ingredients as 2-phenethyl propionate, clove oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and thyme oil, which are claimed to kill up to 100 species of insects according to the manufacturer. We haven’t been able to find relevant sources confirming the effectiveness of these oils against carpet bees and so we don’t recommend buying them.
As usual, we’ll start with the safest killers before moving on to powerful insecticides.
Harris Boric Acid Roach Powder With Lure
A 16 oz Harris Boric Acid Roach Powder bottle costs only ~$8.99. The crystals of boric acid are sharp and get between the joints of an insect's exoskeleton. The sharp crystals abrade the cuticle and make the insect lose water and die of dehydration. This is a simple and cheap method. Dust the boric acid (which is relatively non-toxic) around the corners of rooms and in hiding places frequented by the carpet beetles. The manufacturer recommends thoroughly cleaning the rooms along with using the powder and note that you shouldn’t generously dust it when carrying out the treatment.
Price: ~$8.99 Check the current price
The Best Carpet Beetle Trap
Pro Pest Pantry Moth & Beetle Traps 2 Pre-Baited Traps
This trap’s glue contains pheromones which attract males and prevent them from mating with females. The trap can be placed on the floor, on a shelf, a window sill, hung in the pantry or elsewhere. Replace it once every two months as it gets filled up with the insects. According to the feedback from Amazon.com customers, this is a decent supplement for monitoring all kinds of flying and crawling pests.
Price: ~$5.87 Check the current price
Picking a Powerful Carpet Beetle Killer, a Spray and a Dust
It’s not easy to pick a powerful spray or a dust for removing carpet beetles as the modern market is saturated with various chemical products. We’ve picked the most trustworthy products, such as an insecticide powder, a ready-to-use spray and some cut-rate concentrated insecticides to be used in a garden sprayer.
Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust
~$20 Delta Dust is one of the many accessible deltamethrin-based insecticides approved for indoor use. This universal insecticide powder is available in one-pound packs. The dust is sprayed around the places where the pests inhabit or where they are undesirable and kills various insects. It also creates a repelling barrier for pests. You can apply it with a paint brush or use a more convenient handle such as Pest Pistol Mini Duster for ~$8.99. However, be prepared for a thorough cleaning after the treatment as although the users confirm that the dust is indeed effective against carpet beetles, this method is quite dirty since the dust flows everywhere.
Price: ~$20 Check the current price
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter RTU Wand
This pesticide contains active bifenthrin. The spray is sold in an economical 1.1 gallon canister with an aerosol and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The manufacturer claims that this ~$14.05 product can kill over 130 pests and dangerous insects and creates long-term protection as it repels the pests from the treated territory. The maximum effect is achieved when the killer is sprayed on dry surfaces and should not be exposed to rain or subject to wet cleaning during the day. The protection is valid for up to 12 months indoors and for up to three months outside.
The users rate Ortho highly, and many of them managed to get rid of carpet beetles with it even when suffering from a real epidemic of them. One of the reviewers has described the situation as follows: “Carpet beetle corpses ran rampant in the streets that year. I'd see dead insects everywhere. After that year, I haven't seen a single bug since. Unless this stuff has an expiration date, then I need to go buy some more” Read over 400 customer reviews on Amazon.com to know more.
Price: ~$14.05 Check the current price
Demand Cs -(8 Oz) - Bed Bugs, carpenter bees, ants, spiders, professional Pest Control Products
Demand Cs is a ~$34.51 (8 oz) universal concentrated pyrethroid Lambda-cyhalothrin-based insecticide. Lambda-cyhalothrin is a colorless and odorless crystalline substance acting on contact or when digested and serves as an insect repellent after spraying.
This insecticide is capable of removing 30 pest species, including beetles, cigarette beetles, ants, bedbugs, boxelder bugs, cockroaches, red flour beetles etc. Its dissolution ratio is 1:200. It is then to be sprayed in the places where pests appear, both indoors and outdoors. It is claimed that its domestic and garden insect pest protection lasts for up to 90 days. Demand Cs is odorless and non-toxic for animals, humans, earthworms and garden plants and is toxic for fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Price: ~$34.51 Check the current price
The following product is also a concentrated insecticide, but its active ingredient, beta-cyfluthrin, is more powerful than other pyrethroids, such as regular cyfluthrin and lambda-cyhalothrin and will be suitable even for the worst invasions. As it is more toxic, be cautious when using it.
Tempo Ultra SC (8.12 oz) Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide
This beta-cyfluthrin is packed in 8 oz bottles, ~$38.70 each. Beta-cyfluthrin is capable of removing over 100 species of insect pests and ticks and is considered to be an extremely powerful pyrethroid. The product is dissolved in up to 30 gallons of water and can be used both indoors and outdoors as this volume will be enough to cover 30 000 m2. Beta-cyfluthrin is odorless and doesn’t leave any marks. It can be used in secluded spots and in the pantry. Its protective effect promises to last for up to 3 months. The users rate Tempo extremely highly on Amazon.com and give it a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating: over 90% of people could get rid of pests and were satisfied with the effect.
Price: ~$38.70 Check the current price
Suspend Polyzone Pint
This is the most economical universal product by Bayer and is the high-rated one in this review as it has been given 4.7 out of 5 stars. Unlike other products, this bottle contains 16 oz (and not 8) of a concentrated insecticide and is available for only ~$35.87. Suspend is a polymer deltamethrin-based concentrate insecticide which promises to act for up to 90 days outdoors, regardless of weather conditions. The range of targeted pests is wide as it covers over 25 insects including carpet beetles, ants, roaches, centipedes, clothes moths, crickets, earwig etc. The customers value this product for its valuable killing effect and confirmed long-lasting residual effect.
Price: ~$35.87 Check the current price
Carpet Beetle Traps, Sprays and Dusts Comparison Chart
Harris Boric Acid Roach Powder
|Insecticide powder||Boric acid|
Pro Pest Pantry Moth & Beetle Traps
|Sticky pheromone trap||Pheromone lure|
Delta Dust Pest Control Insecticide
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer
Demand Cs -(8 Oz)
Tempo Ultra SC (8.12 oz)
Suspend Polyzone Pint (16 oz)