If you’re noticing red spots on your skin and seeing dead bugs in your carpet, you might have a carpet beetle infestation.
These pests are famous for chewing holes in your fabrics, but can also cause a number of other issues around the home.,
So, what are carpet beetles? How can you spot them? And, probably most importantly, do carpet beetles bite?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about carpet beetles, how to tell if you have an infestation, and how to get rid of these pests.
How to Identify a Carpet Beetle
Adult black carpet beetles are oval, dark brown to black, with short elytra (wing covers). Tiny fine hairs cover their bodies, making them furry, and they wiggle when disturbed or flying.
Another common carpet beetle species is the ‘variegated carpet beetle’ which typically has a black, brown, and white patterned appearance.
The larvae are caterpillar-like grubs without legs. You can identify a baby carpet beetle by its yellowish-white and brown head capsule, ranging from 0.5mm – 2mm in length at maturity.
They also have tiny hairs covering their body, making them appear furry. Compared to the adult carpet beetle, the young beetles have a distinctive tuft of white fur on their heads.
The larvae cause most of the holes, damage, and fuss. While the adults lay the eggs that cause infestation, it is the larvae that feed on fabrics they love to eat:
In addition to eating your belongings, they can be quite a nuisance if you find them in your home because of possible allergic reactions.
Do Carpet Beetles Bite?
Here’s the truth: carpet beetles don’t bite you. They feed on animal fabrics and furniture—which means they can eat your decor and clothing.
However, many people and pets have an allergic reaction that causes red bumps to appear on the skin. These aren’t bites, though. It’s actually a rash, which we’ll explain below.
What Is Carpet Beetle Rash?
If you or anyone in your family is seeing red bumps on their skin, you may have carpet beetle rash. Carpet beetle rashes are usually red, itchy, and slightly swollen. These rashes happen if your body has an allergic reaction to the hairs of these tiny insects.
- Itchy skin or hives
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose or congestion
It’s important to note that the rash doesn’t mean that a carpet beetle has bitten you—remember, they don’t bite people. It’s most likely just a reaction to their hair (which contains chemicals) that can cause an allergic reaction.
Carpet Beetle Rash on Pets
It is also not uncommon for your pet to have an allergy to carpet beetles because these pests sometimes eat pet food.
When your pet is allergic to carpet beetles, it will often scratch or chew on its skin to relieve itchiness. Other signs of this allergy include:
- Red spots on their bodies
- Scabs on their skin
- Itching or hair loss
- Sore patches on their skin (caused by chewing)
Try bathing your pet with Melaleuca shampoo. If this does not work, please consult with your vet.
How to Treat Carpet Beetle Rash
The best treatment for carpet beetle rash is prevention. Keep your house clean so no crumbs or pet hair are lying around for any bug to eat. Vacuuming regularly and washing all your bedding weekly to avoid attracting fleas or ticks into your home is also helpful.
If you already have a rash, you can try several natural remedies to treat carpet beetle rash, including:
- Apple cider vinegar: Mix 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one teaspoon of water and apply this mixture to your skin where you have a rash from carpet beetles. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Repeat this process twice daily until your rash has gone away (or at least improved).
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil contains antibacterial properties that can help clear up carpet beetle rashes quickly if applied directly.
- Petroleum jelly or calamine lotion: Apply to the affected area to reduce the itching and swelling.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration can dry out your skin and make it more prone to irritation from scratching.
If these methods don’t work, you can always try antihistamine tablets from any pharmacy or supermarket. They will reduce inflammation, swelling, and itching sensations, but they may make you drowsy, so don’t drive after taking them. If your rash is severe or doesn’t go away with treatment, talk to your doctor about prescription medications or see an allergist for immunotherapy.
Do You Have Carpet Beetles?
If you’re not sure if you have a carpet beetle infestation, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you had new carpets installed recently? This is a common place where you find both eggs and adult beetles.
- Are there any holes in any of your walls or floors? This is a common way for these bugs to get into houses.
- Are you experiencing itchy, watery eyes or a rash? You might have carpet beetle rash.
- Are there any dead beetles or larvae in your bedroom? Often, you’ll find these tiny dead insects in dark corners of the closet.
How to Find Carpet Beetles in Your Home
We know the answer to the question, “are carpet beetles harmful?” but where do carpet beetles live? The short answer is that they live wherever you have carpets or fabrics. Carpet beetle larvae are a type of beetle that lives in dark spaces. You might see some people call them fabric beetles because they love fabrics like wool and silk.
Many also like to hide in dark places, such as:
- Under layers of clothes
- Inside dressers and drawers
Check other small spaces, too, such as tiny crevices along baseboards and walls exposed to the elements. And chances are, if you have a severe carpet beetle infestation, a family of larvae will be camping out in the lining of your clothes!
Where to Find Carpet Beetle Eggs
If you see black carpet beetles, don’t panic—but do get rid of them.
According to researchers, they lay about 90 eggs apiece, and the eggs hatch in 6 to 16 days. If you have piles of wood, textiles, or even old fabrics, these are all places that attract carpet beetles to lay their eggs and start to breed.
Getting Rid of Carpet Beetles
If you’ve got an infestation going on, then there are two things you can do about it: treat for larvae or treat for adults. Treating larvae will kill them before they get big enough to damage your furniture; treating adults will kill them after they’ve already done some damage but before they lay more eggs! Either way, you win.
We have a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of carpet beetles, but just to give you a quick overview below:
- Wash all clothes and bedding: Use hot water to kill any remaining carpet beetles.
- Freeze any items you can’t wash: Place items in bags in a freezer for two weeks to kill the eggs.
- Vacuum floors and furniture thoroughly: Focus on the edges and hard-to-read places where carpet beetles might be hiding.
- Apply boric acid: This product kills carpet beetles, fleas, and their larvae without causing harm to humans or pets. You will need to apply boric acid directly onto any affected areas of your carpet or clothing to penetrate deep into the fibers. Leave it overnight before vacuuming any dead insects and larvae.
- Apply insect-killing spray: You can control carpet beetle infestations with sprays that contain pyrethrins or other insecticides. Always wear a mask when using sprays.
- Use diatomaceous earth: If you want to use a natural spray to control the problem, then you should use diatomaceous earth. Made from the fossilized remains of single-celled algae called diatoms, this product kills insects by cutting through their waxy outer shell and dehydrating them from within.
Carpet Beetles vs. Clothes Moths
Carpet beetles and clothes moths are closely related in terms of their effect on your home.
Both insects damage items by eating them, but they use different methods. Clothes moths cause damage by eating clothing and other fabrics. Their holes will be much smaller than those made by carpet beetles—usually around 1/8 of an inch in diameter.
Carpet Beetles vs. Bed Bugs
The difference between carpet beetles and bed bugs is that bed bugs are parasites. Carpet beetles are about the size of a grain of rice and feed on fabrics like leather and wool.
In comparison, bed bugs are about 1/4-inch long, reddish-brown, flat-bodied insects. Similarly to fleas, bed bugs do bite and feed on blood from humans and animals. For sensitive skin, bed bug bites can cause severe allergic reactions. Bed bugs also:
- Live in cracks and crevices in walls, floors, furniture, and bedding
- Don’t have wings like carpet beetles
- Hide during the day and come out at night
- Feed at night when their hosts are sleeping
These pests can be challenging to get rid of because they can hide in many places around your home.
That’s a Wrap!
So, do carpet beetles bite? No! But they can cause allergic reactions, so follow these steps to determine if you have a carpet beetle infestation and kill these pests.
We hope this guide answered all your questions about these pests.
From mice infestations and silverfish through to bed bugs and carpet beetles – do your due diligence to make sure your home and belongings are pest free!