Featured image: npic.orst.edu
Carpet beetles are incredibly persistent and if you do have them in your home, then one quick spray round of an insecticide is unlikely to get rid of them.
Understanding their lifecycle will help you treat them because it is likely that you will need to treat the infested area repeatedly in order to kill them and eliminate the problem.
Information about carpet beetles – source: USDA.gov
Carpet beetles are very commonplace and rather like head lice, they are not an indicator of a dirty house they simply look for warmth, food, and shelter which is why the inside of a house is so attractive to them. They can easily come in from outside through open windows and doors and on pets and even flowers.
What are carpet beetles?
Carpet beetles are a small flying insect that lives and breeds in textiles mainly carpets but they can also turn their attention to other fabrics like clothes and upholstery. Carpets are their favorite food source as dust, debris, dead skin cells, any tiny traces of food and pet hair provide them with a never-ending and succulent diet.
They also enjoy munching on wool carpet fibers and so it can be easy to see the evidence of their meals or you may have noticed the thin white shed larval and pupal skins which are another telltale sign.
Carpet beetles shed their skins – this is what they look like (image source: entomology.ca.uky.edu)
The lifecycle of a carpet beetle is relatively rapid. They can lay more than 100 eggs in one go and they lay eggs continuously. These eggs will take anywhere between ten days and a month to hatch, hence the need to repeat the process of de-infestation at least once a week for several weeks to ensure you catch any yet to hatch.
Carpet beetle trap will help to catch the adults
How to get rid of carpet beetles
This is a targeted process which you can carry out yourself but it will need to be repeated regularly as the larvae hatch otherwise the infestation will just continue. Perseverance is key!
- Start by vacuuming the carpet thoroughly – use a fine nozzle to hoover all around the edge of the carpet where it meets the skirting board as this is where the adult beetles like to lay their eggs. Vacuuming can remove most of the beetles and larvae but is not sufficient on its own. Change the bag after you have finished and throw it away. If the infestation is confined to one room, it can be useful to use a separate vacuum for this area. The old-fashioned style with a bag is best because you can discard the bag when you have finished
- Vacuum two or three times a day including the furniture
- Use a steam cleaner to thoroughly clean carpets, rugs and other fabrics in the room, anything that you can launder through the washing machine then do so as a hot wash will kill the beetles
- You can spray the area with an insecticide but many people are reluctant to use these chemicals on their carpets particularly if they have pets and small children. Boric acid can be sprinkled on the carpet and furniture or you can make it into a spray by mixing it with water and dispensing into a plant spray. Mix 1 tablespoon of boric acid with 2 cups of hot water and stir thoroughly until the powder dissolves. Keep the area clear of pets, children and people after you have sprayed as although borax is natural, it is not a good idea for anyone to come into repeated contact with it
- Apply a mixture of white or apple cider vinegar and water to all hard surfaces such as shelves, drawers, window sills, cupboards and skirting boards. This has two benefits – it removes dust and debris and acts as a deep clean and the scent of the vinegar will put the beetles off for a short period of time. This is a safe and mild way to both kill and deter carpet beetles
- Certain essential oils can be used to make a spray pesticide to kill carpet beetle; the most common choices are peppermint oil and oil of cloves. It is very important to dilute the oils in distilled water – do not use them neat or undiluted. Water obviously reduces their potency but coming into contact with undiluted oils can be hazardous for pets and people so its’ just a question of striking a middle ground
Whatever products you use to treat the carpet, you will need to repeat the treatment regularly once or twice a week for several weeks to get rid of all remaining larvae otherwise the infestation will just continue.
How to keep carpet beetles at bay
Once you have taken the time, effort and trouble to get rid of carpet beetles, you certainly won’t want to welcome them back into your home. They don’t bite and they don’t transmit any nasty diseases but they can eat you out of house and home, literally. Here are some tips to stay beetle free:-
- Vacuum regularly checking the carpet as you do so for any signs of infestation – don’t forget soft furnishings and upholstered furniture. Vacuuming really does work as it sucks up the beetles and the larvae
- Treat liquid and food spills immediately as these residues can attract carpet beetles
- Use essential oil sprays to regularly ward off unwanted visitors – they will deter and kill carpet beetle and will leave your home smelling fresh and fragrant
- Deep clean hard surfaces once a month with an apple cider vinegar solution – pay particular attention to dark or dimly lit corners which are a favourite choice of residence for carpet beetles who dislike sunlight
- Devise a regular steam cleaning programme and rotate it around the carpets and textiles within your home