Identifying a Black Carpet Beetle
Black carpet beetles (Attagenus unicolor) are a common kind of beetle that has become a pest in homes from Canada, through the United States, and down into Mexico. These beetles likely came from Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Since then, they’ve spread all throughout the country and are now common. These pests get into household products containing keratin, like feathers and hair, and they may also attack synthetic fibers.
Anything from a child’s stuffed toys to the antique area rug in your living room could be at risk if these pests make themselves at home. Fortunately, you can take steps to get rid of them if you see them in your house.
WHAT DO BLACK CARPET BEETLES LOOK LIKE?
As their name suggests, black carpet beetles are usually black. They can also be dark brown in some cases. You’ll be able to recognize this beetle thanks to its oval-like shape.
Adults grow to around ½ inch in length. Their antennae have feathery features, and they have six legs in total.
As far as beetles go, these look fairly generic. However, it’s important to note that not all black beetles you find inside are going to be black carpet beetles. There are also black beetles that typically live outside most of the time but find themselves in your home accidentally, like the whitespotted pine sawyer beetle (Monochamus scutellatus) or punctured tiger beetle (Cicindela punctulata). There are also other species of carpet beetles in addition to the black carpet beetle.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLACK CARPET BEETLES AND VARIED CARPET BEETLES?
BLACK CARPET BEETLE
WHERE DOES IT LIVE?
The black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) is found all over the United States. Generally speaking, it can be found anywhere in North America, though there may be some areas less prone to them than others.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Black carpet beetles are usually dark brown or black. They have six legs, two that point forward and two pairs that point back. They are shaped like ovals or pieces of rice. At around a ½ inch in length, they’re small and compact.
If you discover the larvae, the larvae are long and cylindrical with one tapered end. The body appears a little bit striped in black and brown. Older larvae may have tails that look bushy or bristly.
WHAT DOES IT EAT?
Black carpet beetles, like other types, generally stay outside and eat nectar and pollen. They usually get inside accidentally through open doors or windows.
It’s typically the black carpet beetle larvae that cause the most damage in homes. Black carpet beetle larvae will eat things like spices, grains, pet hair, leather, and even felts and hammers in pianos.
VARIED CARPET BEETLE
WHERE DOES IT LIVE?
The varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) lives in North America. It is also known as a warehouse and museum pest. It can infiltrate collections of furs, carpets, and other goods, ruining them.
When outside, you may find these beetles near wasp hives, bees’ nests, spiderwebs, and birds’ nests. These locations contain food for varied carpet beetle larvae to eat, such as dead insects or feathers.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The varied carpet beetle looks very different from the black carpet beetle. It has a mottled pattern and is white, brown, and dark yellow. As the beetles age (females live up to six weeks and males up to four) they may begin to lose their coloration and appear brown or black.
Varied carpet beetles are around 1/10 inches long as full-grown adults. The larvae are slightly longer than the adults with tufts of hair that set them apart from other species. If you bother the larvae, they can puff up their hairs into a small, rounded plume.
WHAT DOES IT EAT?
Varied carpet beetles eat pollen and nectar as adults. They may enjoy plants like buckwheat or crape myrtle.
Like black carpet beetles, the varied carpet beetle larvae cause the most damage indoors because they will eat almost anything from leather to whalebone to the fur of a stuffed animal.
HOW DO BLACK CARPET BEETLES GET IN YOUR HOUSE?
The most common way for black carpet beetles to get inside is by flying in from the outdoors. For example, if you open the door to bring in some groceries, a black carpet beetle might fly in behind you. They could also walk in on the ground, slip in through a crack, or come in on a plant you bring inside on a windy day.
Another way black or varied carpet beetles might get into your home is through the purchase of antique wool carpets. If you buy an older carpet, you might want to have it cleaned by a specialist and treated before you bring it into your home.
Other common ways for carpet beetles to get inside include:
- In bags of dried pet food.
- Through a chimney where an animal, such as a bird, has died.
- Through open windows.
If you spot a carpet beetle, it’s likely there are more in your home. These pests are often difficult to spot due to their small size and ability to hide in very small places, so a pest control professional can help with a thorough inspection and recommendations if you’re facing an infestation. These beetles can damage fabrics, clothes, and upholstery if left unattended.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF BLACK CARPET BEETLES?
GET RID OF INFESTED ITEMS
If an item such as a rug or curtains is heavily damaged and doesn’t have sentimental attachment, it can be a good idea to throw it away immediately to help curb an infestation and stop it from spreading. It’s still a good idea to call for an inspection afterward, however, so you can make sure other areas of your home aren’t infested and protect your belongings from possible harm.
STEAMING, CLEANING, AND VACUUMING
Steaming carpets and upholstery and laundering clothes in hot water can help destroy carpet beetles at all life stages (eggs, larvae, and adults). Vacuuming also helps, and be sure to dispose of the vacuum’s contents outside each time after vacuuming.
If you see one or two beetles and want to simply remove them by hand, you can, but for larger concerns, calling in professional help is ideal. Where there’s one, there tends to be more, so it’s better to get a pest inspection to be sure your home is free of this pest’s hungry larvae.
CALL A PEST CONTROL COMPANY
If you’ve spotted adult carpet beetles or their larvae, a pest control professional can help you identify the type of beetle and recommend a treatment method. Carpet beetles are extremely common in homes and can be successfully remediated quite easily with professional help.
GET HELP TO GET RID OF BLACK CARPET BEETLES
Carpet beetles can cause a lot of damage and lead to you having to replace rugs, clothing, and other belongings. If you’ve discovered larvae or adult beetles, it’s time to take action.
We’re here to help all of our neighbors take care of their pest problems. Contact us today at Moxie Pest Control, and we’ll connect you with a pest expert who can help.
Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!