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We put together a detailed guide on how to get rid of carpet beetles. We included 4 free contractor quotes and cost associated to hire one.
Carpet beetles are insects whose larvae feed on organic materials usually found in the home. As with all insect pests, the easiest place for them to live, eat and breed is in our homes and usually they do it all undetected.
There are thirteen different species of carpet beetles distributed around the world, however the most numerous in North America are the:
Common Carpet Beetle. These are about one eighth of an inch in length and coloured grey/black with orange/white scales on its back. The larvae are reddish brown and have black and brown hairs. The beetles and larvae are found in items containing natural fibres and animal products such as fabrics, soft furnishings, wool, silk, hair, fur, leather, feathers and processed foods.
Black Carpet Beetle. This is about one eighth to one-quarter inch long and is colored black with brown legs. The larvae are about three-eighth of an inch long, reddish brown with short hairs. The beetles will nest in items containing natural plant or animal fibers such as carpets, clothes, furs, soft furnishings and upholstery, leather, books, milk powder. The larvae will eat these items as well as eating pollen.
Furniture Carpet Beetle. These are about a one-eighth inch in length and are colored with yellow, white and black scales. The larvae are about a three-sixteenths inch long and colored dark red to brown. They love woolen upholstery and will feed on hair or feather padding as well as natural plant and animal products. They like cotton, linen, and rayon especially if stained with animal body fluids.
Varied Carpet Beetle. These are about one eighth inch long and have a dark coloured body with white, brown and yellow scales. In older beetles the colours wear off and they appear brown or black. The larvae are broader at the rear and narrower at the front than other carpet beetle larvae. The larvae are found in plant and animal natural fibres such as carpets, woollens, furs, stuffed toys, dried plant products and silks.
The adults of all varieties usually live outdoors where they feed on pollen and nectar of mainly white flowering plants. When they are ready to lay their eggs the adult beetle lays its eggs either outside in dead animals, bee hives or animal nests, or indoors in textiles, clothing, carpets or anything else of animal or plant origin which becomes the food source of the larvae.
The eggs are small and white and are able to adhere to all kinds of surfaces. Normally the female will deposit from 30 to 60 eggs at one sitting that will hatch about 10 to 20 days after being laid.
The larvae take about 2 months to develop depending on the ambient temperature. They feed on many things found within our homes especially natural fibers in carpets, furniture, and clothing. Hence their name of carpet beetles.
The carpet beetle’s life cycle can last from three months to two years. The larvae tend to avoid bright light and actively search out dark cracks and crevices. They are often found in drawers, closets, wardrobes or inside upholstered furniture. The presence of carpet beetle larvae is detected by finding shed skin and faecal pellets, usually in the form of a greyish powder about the size of salt grains around where they have been feeding. Adults are attracted to light and will be found in windows and around flower blooms.
The carpet beetle is found all over the world but the four previously mentioned are the commonest in the USA.
As you might have guessed from their eating habits it is the larvae that cause all the damage. Animal and plant-based fibers will be peppered with varying sized irregular holes where the larvae have made a meal. The shed larval skins also cause dermatitis in humans and may cause other allergic responses. Even if they do not sting or bite humans, they can cause a lot of damage to our property and can spread disease onto our food through the previous contact with an infected organic matter which is their larvae’s primary food source.
The best way to prevent an infestation and reduce the damage caused by these insects is to prevent them from living on their food source.
There are a few ways to control the carpet beetle by not using chemical methods:
✓ You can catch adult carpet beetles on sticky fly paper baited with an animal product such as milk powder.
✓ Newly hatched larvae die when exposed to cedar wood but older larvae and fully grown adults are not affected. Red cedar heartwood gives off a vapour that is toxic to young larvae, but after 3 years old the wood dries out and the vapour ceases to work. Regularly change the bags of cedar wood chips to ensure the toxic effect continues.
✓ Store clothes in sealed plastic bags and plastic containers. This will prevent the adult beetles from laying their eggs in the fabric and if there are any already there, it will isolate any infestation to the small amount of clothes already in the bag.
✓ Extreme cold will kill the larvae in infested items. Place the items in plastic bags and put in the freezer at -20°F (-30°C) for about three hours or expose them to heat above 105°F (40°C) for about four hours. If these are too drastic you can leave the items in full sunlight to make the larvae leave and find a home elsewhere.
✓ Keep your home clean and dust regularly followed by vacuuming. Regularly wash or dry clean clothes and store other materials in tightly closed containers.
✓ You can repel the beetle by using moth balls (naphthalene) in the containers and amongst the clothes. As long as you continue to replace the moth balls regularly the beetles will be kept away.
✓ Spot or surface treatment of indoor areas with insecticide works well, but more than one treatment may be needed as you probably won’t get them all in one go.
✓ Do not spray the clothes with insecticide, rather spray the surfaces of the places where clothing is stored and allow drying before putting the clothes back in place.
✓ Spray or dust with insecticide all feeding and hiding places such as rugs, closets, storage areas.
✓ Space sprays are very effective when dealing with an enclosed area like a closet or wardrobe. If the whole house is infested then fumigation is probably the only answer.
✓ Treat attics, wall cavities and other difficult to reach places with powder insecticide but always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
✓ Pest resin strips which contain a volatile insecticide can be used in sealed containers but should be replaced every three months. Keep the container sealed as any air movement or ventilation will disrupt this method of treatment.
Our roduct reccomendation:
The best way to prevent an infestation in the first place is to treat all the tiny inaccessible cracks and crannies that normal cleaning doesn’t touch with insecticidal dust, especially around the edge of carpets. If the infestation is very extreme then the only way to control the pest will be to call in the professionals to fumigate your home.
The trouble with the living habits of tiny insects and their larvae is often that you don’t know you have them in your home until their numbers reach such a large amount that you can’t help but see them moving about. Normally they do all they can to keep hidden. So if you find that you are seeing two or three running about the place you probably have an infestation on your hands. You will have already tried all the commercially available insecticides available to unlicenced users but no matter how many you kill, there will always be many more to take their place. That is when you must call in the professional.
The type of person to call to help rid your home of carpet beetle would be an insect control service or pest control, technician. Whatever their name they are professionals who are fully trained and licensed to handle poisons and to understand the lifecycles of many different kinds of pest both insect and mammal.
The conditions that attract carpet beetles to your home are the same as would attract all different kinds of insect pest; namely food, shelter and somewhere to breed. It is for this reason that calling in a professional would probably be the right course of action. When the professional is looking around and surveying your property for the tell-tale signs of carpet beetle he will probably find indications of other pests as well. He can, therefore, treat your property for all infestations at the same time.
All large pest infestations should be handled by a licensed pest control specialist. They have access to strong chemicals and have the knowledge needed to know the best time and place to deal with the insects. They will know the best poison to use and the way to store and administer the poisons in the safest way possible.
The biggest risk when using poisons is not the only contact with humans but contact with beneficial insects and pets. Bees are one of the beneficial insects and are an exception when it comes to infestations as they are not usually poisoned but relocated to a hive. Although they are useful, bees and other beneficial insects can still be affected by poisons meant for the pests. Poisons then find their way into fishponds and so on up the food chain into birds and others.
Although there are plenty of commercially available pesticides, often the only poisons that will work are those only available to the professional. Yes, chemical can get rid of your carpet beetles and their larvae, but many people would rather use a gentler and more holistic method of eradication. The most obvious method is to use the natural predator to reduce numbers of the beetle. A species of parasitical wasp, Laelius pedatus, will lay from two to four eggs inside the larvae after delivering a paralysing sting to render it immobile. The eggs hatch in three or four days and the wasp larvae feed for up to a week, eventually killing the host.
If you think that your property is going to be susceptible to various infestations (including the carpet beetle) then it may be worthwhile asking the contractor about setting up an on-going contract to ensure your home remains pest free.
The main difference between a one-off callout and an on-going contract is that you pay a monthly fee for the professional to come to your home at scheduled times to prevent an insect infestation before it gets out of hand. It may cost you more to have a contract than to call them out when needed but a contract will ensure that insects in your home do not get out of hand and cause an infestation again.
The cost of your on-going contract will depend on what you agree with the contractor as regards:
Most pest control professionals regard their job as similar to house cleaning; the longer it is between visits, the more there is to do. If an exterminator hasn’t been to your house for a long time there will be lots to do to ensure you are pest free. For this reason you will find that exterminators often price their visits such that the first visit is relatively expensive followed by cheaper regular maintenance visits.
When looking around for pest control companies it is a good idea to confirm whether the estimate is for an initial visit, a one-time visit or regular visits of monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.
The total cost of dealing with an insect pest infestation will depend on a variety of different factors:
The type of pest. Although you might call in the pest control company to deal with a carpet beetle infestation, they might decide you are infested with many different types of insect pests.
Size of infestation. The extent of the infestation will significantly affect the cost.
Type of treatment. The difference in treatment type needed to provide a solution will affect the cost. For example, does the solution require an expensive chemical treatment or a heat treatment? Does it require more than one treatment? Is the solution corrective or preventative?
Size of the property. The size and age of the house will affect the cost. Old houses tend to have more cracks and crannies than new ones.
What about multiple treatments? Some insect pests will require many treatments to control pests hatching at different times or some will only require one treatment.
The range of typical costs is shown in the following table:
|Typical costs for varying types of visit|
|Type of visit||Cost|
|One-time||$300 to $600|
|Initial visit||$150 to $190|
|Monthly visits||$40 to $50|
|Bi-monthly visits||$50 to $70|
|Quarterly visits||$100 to $300|
One-time visit. A typical charge for one-time visits is higher than for the other visits because usually there is a lot of work to do before the extermination. The contractor will have to carry out:
Initial contract visit. The cost of the initial visit will be for:
Some contracts have a clause stating that if you have an infestation between scheduled visits, it will be dealt with free of charge. When you agree the contract with your exterminator make sure you ask about this point.
Periodic contract visit. This will be a maintenance visit to ensure the salient points of the action plan are still relevant and still being adhered to. It will also be a visit to renew any poison or traps that may have been used up.
Luckily some pests just need a one or two visit treatment, these are the pests that have wandered into your home by mistake and decided they liked it there.
Most pests, however, and this includes the carpet beetle and most other insect pests are continually trying to set up home in your house. Your home is full of readily available food sources and dry, secluded nesting areas so is it any wonder that they stay? Even if you take every precaution in your cleaning practices and leave everything spotlessly clean, there will always be nooks and crannies that will remain perfect nesting places for these pests. They often come out at night when no-one is around to look for anything worth eating.
What type of weather you have will significantly affect the type and severity of your infestation?
Warm and dry. This weather will see an increase as pests go indoors seeking shade and a cooler place to live.
Warm and humid. This weather attracts insects that feed on wet and moldy wood and then start on fresh and dry wood.
Cold and wet, cold and dry. Both these types of weather encourage many insects to come indoors into the warmth in search of food.
As stated earlier, adult carpet beetles mainly eat pollen from flower blooms. They are often introduced into the home on the blooms of cut flowers or just wander in from the garden when the weather is not to their liking. Once inside they find many dry food areas for their eggs to be laid and their larvae to grow.
Without a doubt, the best way to get rid of an insect pest is before it has had time to breed, lay eggs and allow the larvae to hatch. Unfortunately ,by the time you see a few running around, it is usually too late.
Once the carpet beetle has had time to find a suitable food source for its larvae, laid its eggs and allowed them to hatch you will have a major problem on your hands.
The lifecycle of the insect is between one to three years depending on the temperature of its environment. Incubation periods range from 54 days at 15°C (60°F) to 12 days at 30°C (86°F). Larvae hatch in spring and early summer and then when they finally pupate before turning into adults their pupation duration goes from 89 days at 10°C ( 50°F) to 9 days at 25°C (77°C). The adults emerge from their pupae between late May and early August and live for about two weeks during which time they eat, mate and find a suitable place to lay their eggs.
You can see from this information that if you have a nice warm home you can be overrun by carpet beetle larvae and beetles laying more eggs within a month or so.
No-one really enjoys killing animals; no matter how much of a nuisance they are so unless the infestation is very minor it is always best to leave the job to a professional.
✓ Is fully trained in the use of all kinds of poisons and natural predators.
✓ Has full knowledge of the various insect lifecycle and the best way to eradicate them.
✓ Is able to use expert judgement when deciding on the best method of extermination.
✓ Will take into account other animals and beneficial insects when choosing the correct extermination method.
✓ Will have full knowledge of safety procedures and will use correct tools and protective clothing when carrying out the work.
Are aware of the laws and regulations regarding the use of poisons.
✓ Will be fully licenced in the use of poisons and the disposal of dead animal carcasses.
✓ Are aware of the wider implications of certain types of insect infestation and will notify the relevant authorities if appropriate.
✓ Browse online or look in the phone book for a name you have heard of.
✓ Often large companies give franchises to smaller contractors so don’t forget to consider that option.
✓ Ask around among your friends and neighbours to see if someone can recommend a good exterminator.
✓ Contact city hall or the local health and sanitation offices to find out if they can recommend a contractor.
✓ When you have chosen a few names phone them and see what kind of response you receive.
✓ Don’t forget to ask the contractor to come out and inspect the house. They will do an assessment of the problem and charge you for it but if you choose them to do the extermination you will be credited the cost of the assessment.
✓ If you have the time (often if you have an infestation you will want the pest eradicated straight away so there may not be enough time for this) get quotations from three different companies. Compare the prices of the offered packages. Often pest control companies will have standard prices that can be discussed over the phone so it may not take much time to get these quotations.
✓Ask them to what standard their operatives are trained. The types of training needed include:
There will always be scams in every industry and pest control is no different to any other. Some are easy to spot and others are not so easy. Here are just a few that you might come up against, you can probably think of some more too:
You have found a pest control company online, not a big company and not a name you recognise, but they are cheap and the webpage looked pretty. They send out a licenced pest control technician. He inspects your home and does an assessment of your infestation. He arranges to come back at a later time to carry out the extermination. When the scheduled day arrives, another technician turns up with the company uniform and vehicle and carries out the extermination.
The insects don’t all disappear and soon they are back as bad as before. The company by this time has moved on and you don’t hear from them again. What happened was that the company has only one licenced operative working for them. He was the person who came and did the assessment, showed his credentials and licence and worked out the action plan. The person who arrived to do the extermination was only partially trained and did not apply the poisons correctly. Remember every person who deals with poisons and is an exterminator must be licenced or have a licenced professional supervising all the way through.
A pest exterminator turns up at your door unannounced and offers you a free pest inspection. You agree and he does the assessment of your house. Very soon he finds “evidence” of a major infestation which needs immediate attention at an inflated price of course. Sometimes he might even plant “evidence” around the house for you to find and for him to show as proof of the insects. Never take the word of someone who just arrives unannounced at your door. Always get a second opinion.
Carpet beetle eggs are difficult to remove and kill. A so-called reputable exterminator offers to kill the eggs and larvae using heat treatment. He doesn’t use the equipment properly and the pest just moves to a different and cooler part of the house. Always hire a contractor who has a qualification in insect heat treatment.
Luckily, and as mentioned earlier an exterminator who can poison carpet beetles will also be trained in the eradication of other pests. He will be able to get rid of insects such as:
If he is a properly qualified professional then he will also be able to control:
Other services offered by a professional pest controller include:
Bird proofing. Many people require access for birds to be restricted such as horticulturalists and keepers of domestic birds. A pest control professional will be able to advise you on the most appropriate bird access methods for your personal situation.
Heat treatments. Many insects, their larvae and eggs can be eradicated by the correct application of heat or cold.
Bird of prey pest control. Areas such as public parks, universities, schools, building sites and airports are often ideal locations for nesting and feeding birds. If the birds are regarded as a nuisance they can only be exterminated by the use of tame birds of prey.
Biohazard cleaning. Professional with protective clothing and suitable knowledge of poisons will be called upon to clean up after a spill of biohazard substances such as bodily fluids, drugs or faeces.
Dead animal removal. Pest control operatives have the facilities and equipment needed to remove and dispose of roadkill and other small animal carcasses.
As we talked about earlier in this article, it is possible for the ordinary person to deal successfully with an infestation of carpet beetles, as long as the infestation isn’t too large.
Many of the commercially available pesticides available to users, such as fly and wasp spray, are perfectly ok to use on beetles.
As well as using DIY pesticides the following steps can be used successfully to prevent an infestation from taking hold:
✓ Make sure second hand furniture is inspected and cleaned before bringing it into the home.
✓ Keep your house clean and vacuum regularly.
✓ Be careful when bringing cut flowers into the home.
If you carry out these steps regularly and still end up with a carpet beetle infestation then you must call in a professional. They have the equipment, chemicals and specialised knowledge to quickly and efficiently find a suitable solution. If you decide to use a contractor then there are a few questions you should ask first.
Pest infestation in general and infestation of carpet beetles in particular can be upsetting and embarrassing especially to people who regard their homes as clean. Remember not to put the discovery of a few beetles or larvae to the back of your mind. By all means, try to solve the problem yourself but if this doesn’t wok then don’t be afraid to contact a professional pest control company who will be more than happy to eradicate the problem for you.
We hope you have found something of use in this article and I thank you for reading it.