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Are Carpet Beetles Dangerous?

What You Need to Know About the Bugs Eating Your Rug

The holiday season is in full swing, and those of you who celebrate it have probably started decking the halls in preparation for Christmas.

Unfortunately, as festive as your fancy tablecloths, Christmas stockings, Santa hats, and other fabric ornaments are, you might not be the only one who’s interested in those decorations – or in enjoying a holiday feast.

Today, we’re going to take a look at one of the critters that might decide to chew a hole in your winter celebrations: the carpet beetle.

Are carpet beetles harmful?

Long-term exposure to carpet beetles can cause carpet beetle dermatitis, which causes symptoms such as itching, pruritic rashes, and papulovesicular eruptions. Research suggests that this is an acquired allergic reaction to carpet beetle larval hairs and hemolymph (insect blood).

Some patients also develop irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes.

On top of causing medical problems, carpet beetles eat animal-based materials. This means they feed on a wide variety of items, including:

  • Leather
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Fur
  • Animal hair

If your carpets, furniture upholstery, coats, bedding, or clothes are made of animal materials like the ones above, they should be kept well away from carpet beetles.

Here’s a list of popular fabrics and their content; it will help you to determine whether your textiles are at risk.

Do carpet beetles chew on non-animal fabrics?

Yes, if those materials are soiled with perspiration, oil or food. That means your gravy-stained tablecloths, unwashed dishcloths, or the Santa hat you kept wearing as the fireplace heated up could end up with holes in them.

What do carpet beetles look like?

Adult carpet beetles are around an eighth to a fifth of an inch long, and their short antennae have club-like structures at the end.

They have chewing mouthparts, which can look like a horizontal row of four spikes sticking forward from their face. The spikes on the outside are longer than the ones on the inside.

Their bodies are oval in shape, and the color varies by species.

Varied carpet beetles:

Varied carpet beetles have irregular patterns of brown, white and dark yellow scales, like a calico cat. These scales fade to solid black or brown as the bug gets older.

Furniture carpet beetles:

These beetles are covered in round or oval scales, as opposed to the long, narrow scales on other carpet beetles. They’re mostly black, with a mottling of yellow and white scales on their back, and thick yellow scales on their legs.

Black carpet beetles:

These ones are solid black or dark brown, and their bodies are less rounded than the other carpet beetle species.

Common carpet beetles:

These black beetles have varied patches of white scales, with an uneven line of red or orange running down the middle of their back.

While it’s handy to be able to identify grown carpet beetles, it won’t always be the adults you find first. Let’s take a look at their young.

What do baby carpet beetles look like?

Carpet beetle eggs are laid in batches of twenty to 100, are 0.08 to 0.02 inches long, and are white or cream colored. They’re soft, oval-shaped, and identifiable by the spinelike projections at one end.

These eggs can be found on furniture, carpets and clothing, and in cracks on the floor. Black carpet beetles produce one generation per year, while the other species can create up to four generations in the same amount of time.

Once they hatch, the larvae’s size and shape vary by species, and they range in color from light brown to dark brown.

Most are elongated and carrot-shaped and have tufts of hairs on their bodies. Black carpet beetle larvae have a bristle-like tail, and they’re covered in short, stiff hairs. Young varied beetles are covered in dense tufts, which they can raise as a natural defense.

Do you have carpet beetles or signs that they might be in your house?

If you’ve started to notice carpet beetles in your house, bare patches on your carpet, or holes in your fabrics, it’s best to catch the problem early.

Or, even better, have the experts do it for you.

Call us today at (724) 601-3223, or contact us to arrange a time for us to give you a free inspection and quote.

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