An infestation on the increase?

Carpet beetles are more common than you think, with pest controllers across the UK reporting an increase in telephone calls and queries relating to these tiny critters.

Although an unpleasant thought to have beetles crawling around in carpets and possibly other soft furnishings, carpet beetles do not spread disease neither do they sting or bite. They do however, enjoy the food source that are the natural fibres in carpets, furnishings etc. Anything containing wool, fur, silk (in some but not all cases of carpet beetle) and other natural fibres can be susceptible to this kind of infestation.

Is it a carpet beetle or a moth?

The damage caused by the larvae of both the carpet beetle and the moth are similar and so, before treatment, it is important that the pest responsible is positively identified.

Carpet beetles are small and round, about the size of a ladybird. They can be dark brown or black, with white or yellow mottled patches. Most beetles are similar but the fur beetle has a distinctive white spot on their wing.

Like most pests and animals, the carpet beetle breeds in the warmer weather of spring, with the female adult beetle paying anything between 20 and 100 eggs in fabrics that have natural fibres within them; many people assume that the fabric has to be 100% natural material but actually, carpet beetles larvae are happy to much on anything with 25% natural fibres or more, so a synthetic mix carpet won’t keep them at bay!

From these eggs hatch a furry, brown larvae – known as woolly bears – and the hairs on the larvae can be an irritant to some people, especially if there are many larvae in a small space. These woolly bears avoid light as well as any form of disturbance too, rolling in to a ball if it sense vibrations nearby.

It is this woolly bears – the larvae – that causes the damage you may have just spotted; the holes in the carpet under furniture, as well as possibly on the underside of upholstered furniture. They feed ferociously on your carpets and the like, all as fuel for them to turn into a carpet beetle.

How do you know it is a carpet beetle?

Like many pests, there are tell-take signs but they can be easily confused. Treating with the wrong chemical etc. will simply do nothing, and you will be wasting time and money, as well as effort. A qualified pest controller will be able to identify the cause of the damage but, in the main carpet beetles can be identified by…

  • Sight – although they don’t seek out company or light, woolly bears do gather together in groups and will be attracted by the warmth of the sun; in some instances, people have spotted them huddled together on a warm, sunny window ledge
  • Birds’ nests – if you have had a bird’s nest removed from your property in recent weeks or months, it is always worth being on the lookout for carpet beetles as they are known to be prevalent in nests
  • Damage – like moths, carpet beetles leave tell-tale signs such as holes in carpets; check under furniture as they can eat carpet just about anywhere!

Can carpet beetles be prevented?

Prevention is always better than cure but preventing carpet beetles can be difficult. However, ensuring that…

  • Corners and other hard-to-reach places are vacuumed regularly can help in removing the tiny eggs and larvae from carpets
  • Pay close attention to small nooks and crannies, just as ‘junctions’ in skirting boards and the like
  • If birds nest on or close to your property, have these nests removed and keep a close eye out for carpet beetles are larvae in the home
  • If you suspect you have birds in the chimney stack, or have an issue with mice or other rodents, checking carpets and soft furnishings for carpet beetles becomes a priority as this is one way that beetles gain access to the interior of a property
  • When storing items, especially those with a high natural fibre content, they should be sealed in plastic bags and also be freshly laundered to prevent the eggs hatching in the larvae that cause the damage

No one wants to share their home or business with pests of any kind and so, if you spot damage in carpets or holes in soft furnishings, you may have carpet beetles. Getting rid of beetles can be a straightforward process, if you know how and this is why calling us will see you carpet beetle-free in no time!