May 23rd, 2008
As you may have noticed on our beetles page, we are surrounded by beetles that like to eat things that we think are pretty. Wood boring beetles eat our trees. Leaf-eating beetles eat our garden plants. Dung beetles? Well, we don't get into that. How about Carpet Beetles? Guess what they eat. Everything! They're really quite destructive if you don't take care of the problem quickly. How do I know how destructive they are? Well, ask any curator which beetle they love and fear the most. You see, Carpet Beetles love to eat organic fibers and other organic products. This makes them perfect for cleaning objects that a museum may want to preserve, but if they were ever to get out of that laboratory, you would have one livid curator on your hands. So, there are uses for the Carpet Beetle, but chances are your circumstances are a little different.
The potential problems described in the left sidebar are just a handful of the dangers presented by a Carpet Beetle infestation. Really, carpet beetles will eat just about anything, and I mean anything: carpets, furniture, lint, hair, garments, blankets, pet food, animal nests, animal carcasses (think: dead mice), dead insects, leather, even pollen from those flowers your significant other gave you on a whim. So, let's talk about getting rid of Carpet Beetles, because if you know you have them in your home, they're busy eating your stuff right now.
Carpet Beetle Control
Identify the source if you want to get rid of carpet beetles. Look for fecal pellets and the shed skins of the larva. Also look for holes in fabrics. Carpet Beetles tend to feed in dark, secluded areas like closets, drawers, basements, in between walls and insulation, attics, and storage boxes. You may want to check under carpets and rugs, pick up couches and large pieces of furniture and inspect those thoroughly as well. If you've seen one of the Carpet Beetles shown in the sidebar to your left, search your home up and down until you find the source of the infestation.
Immediately and directly remove the carpet beetles with a vacuum. This should be the first thing you do to get rid of Carpet Beetles. Just go ahead and suck those suckers right up. Make sure to get their babies too; they're the hairy little caterpillar looking type things. The larva are the stage of the Carpet Beetle that is most harmful to fabrics. How do you think they grow up to be such pretty little beetles? They gotta eat!
Wash your fabrics in hot, soapy water to make sure you get rid of carpet beetles, their larva, and their eggs. Like many pests that feed on animal waste (by waste, I mean remains), Carpet Beetle eggs are incredibly resilient. You'll need to get all of the clothes and fabrics you think are infested into hot water and soap right away. Hell, use the pre-wash just to make sure you get everything. If you're dealing with a rug or a carpet, you'll want to hire a steam cleaner from your local hardware store or have a professional come in and do the job for you.
If you want to kill carpet beetles and keep them out, try dusting with boric acid. Boric acid is great stuff. It kills just about any insect that comes into contact with it, yet it's almost completely harmless to humans. I wouldn't eat a spoonful of it to prove my point, but trust me, this is the stuff you want to use if you don't like chemicals. Boric acid is a naturally occurring compound mined in primarily in the Southwest of the U.S.A. The only thing you want to watch out for is the possibility that you might end up bleaching the fabrics you're treating with boric acid. Boric acid makes whites whiter, you know what I'm saying?
Carpet treatments that contain chlorpyrifos, bendiocarbs, and allethrin are effective at getting rid of carpet beetles. Let's just say for the time being that ridding your home of Carpet Beetles and keeping those beetles out is your number one priority. There are a number of Carpet Beetle carpet treatments on the market. Just make sure you find a spray or dust that is explicitly labeled for use against Carpet Beetles. However, don't be surprised that HAZMAT suits aren't included with your purchase.
Professional Carpet Beetle Removal
Because the Carpet Beetle is such a resilient pest, especially its eggs, professional removal of a Carpet Beetle infestation may be necessary. I know it sounds easy to get rid of Carpet Beetles if you've read all of the steps and suggestions I've listed above, but there are times when you simply can't be relied upon. Don't blame me. You're the incompetent one. Just kidding. Seriously, though, if you've done everything I've suggested and you're still seeing adult Carpet Beetles on your window sills or crawling around in your kitchen, it's probably time you called a pest control professional. Usually, they're pretty good at their jobs, but shop around a bit and get some estimates. Don't forget to get everything down in writing. I've heard some legal horror stories relating to pest control professionals.