Knowing how to prevent carpet beetles is the key to protecting your home and saving yourself a world of hassle.
Because an ounce of prevention, they say, is worth a pound of cure. That’s definitely the case when it comes to pest control. It’s far easier to do what you can to ensure you never have a pest problem than to deal with one once it emerges.
And with creatures like carpet beetles that are so good at staying hidden, it’s often the case that by the time you realize you have a problem, it’s much bigger and harder to get rid of than it would be otherwise.
So prevention is the key to savings yourself a whole world of hassle.
As with most pests, the smartest thing to do is to find out more about your enemy so you can better defeat them. Here’s what you need to know to prevent carpet beetles from calling your house a home.
What Do Carpet Beetles Eat?
With most pests, the key to understanding why they’ve invaded your home is in the diet. Here’s what we mean: blood suckers like bed bugs and fleas inhabit homes because home is where the warm-blooded mammals live, i.e. you. Luckily, carpet beetles don’t eat people.
Scavengers like roaches and mice are the same – most homes provide ample sources of food to consume.
But when it comes to carpet beetles, it’s not as simple.
You see, carpet beetles go through complete metamorphosis in their life time, transitioning through four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. In each stage, they look and behave completely different from the others.
Here’s a quick look at what they eat in each stage:
- Egg: Eats nothing
- Larva: Must consume keratin to grow
- Pupa: Eats nothing
- Adult: Flower pollen and nectar
As you can see, what carpet beetles eat depends very much on the life stage they are in. And it is only in one life stage – the larval stage – that carpet beetles have diets that are destructive to your home and belongings.
At the larval stage, carpet beetles aren’t picky eaters. They’ll eat just about anything that has protein and will stay still long enough to be eaten. That includes everything from cashmere sweaters, woolen rugs, wool-blend carpets, to leather loafers.
So how do these pesky carpet beetle larvae wind up in your home in the first place?
How Do You Get Carpet Beetles?
The tricky thing is that it’s not carpet beetle larvae that sneak into your home in order to eat your belongings. Nope, in most cases, carpet beetle larvae are hatched from eggs that have been laid in your home.
So how does that happen?
Most often, getting carpet beetles is just a matter of chance. The vast majority of carpet beetle infestations start with something as innocent as having a window open to let in the warm summer breeze.
Adult carpet beetles like the sunlight and feed on the pollen and nectar found outdoors. As such, they prefer to live outdoors in the summer and all year round in warmer climates.
But adult carpet beetles like to lay their eggs on or nearby the food that their babies will need, which is why they’ll often come into your home to lay eggs on the carpet and other dark, hidden places.
Because adult carpet beetles can fly, they can easily come into an open window or door. The eggs are then laid and boom – you have a carpet beetle infestation on your hands.
How to Prevent Carpet Beetles Completely
Luckily, there are several fairly simple things you can do to make your home less appealing to carpet beetles. Although these pests live outside and can fly into your home at any time, making the building less attractive to them will go a long way to reducing the number of carpet beetles you have to deal with.
And if one or two do get inside, it’s not a big deal if they can’t find a food source and a place to breed.
So here’s how to carpet beetle proof your home.
Seal Your Home
The first point of pest prevention applies doubly when it comes to carpet beetles. Because these pesky carpet munchers can fly, the first thing you want to do is to make sure they don’t gain easy entry into your home via your windows and doors.
You can do this by sealing any cracks and gaps around your doors and windows. And then go the extra step to install window screens – these are especially crucial during the summer months as carpet beetles can easily fly in along with the warm breeze.
Tip: Go a step further and cover any vents with mesh screens. This will not only keep carpet beetles out but any other pests you don’t want coming in.
Carpet beetles can eat a lot of different things, but the one thing their food sources have in common is that they must have come from an animal at some point.
If you’re hoping the beetles will eat that hideous polyester jacket you were given three Christmases ago and haven’t been able to get rid of since, you’re out of luck. They don’t find it any more attractive than the rest of us do.
Instead, they’ll eat your stylish leather shoes, your silk dress, and your luxurious wall carpet. You can’t say they don’t have taste.
When it comes to clothes, one of the best things you can do to prevent carpet beetle infestation is store them so that carpet beetles can’t get to them.
Vacuum-pack clothes bags that suck out all the air are a great way to protect your clothes from carpet beetles – seal your cashmeres and wools in them when you store them away for the warmer months.
Ditto for when you pack away your duvet comforters. Vacuum sealed bags in jumbo sizes should do the trick.
The same goes for food. Certain varieties of carpet beetles will eat human food such as cereals and nuts, so make sure to store them in hard plastic or glass containers the bugs can’t get into.
This is not only a great way to make sure you never have to deal with carpet beetles, but will also help prevent infestation from other pests too, ranging from cockroaches to mice.
Cleaning is Your Friend
Having a carpet beetle infestation in your home doesn’t mean you’re dirty. However, good sanitation practices can help reduce the chance of infestation or reduce its severity once it happens.
Make sure to clean up any spilled food to remove a potential food source for these animals. Spilled food, even on non-natural fabrics, can make them attractive to carpet beetles, so stay on top of your cleaning.
And by cleaning, we definitely we maintaining a regular vacuuming schedule. Remember that carpet beetles will eat anything – even hair and dead skin – so if you’re not vacuuming regularly, your floors are providing an abundant feast for carpet beetles to thrive on.
Another huge perk of regular vacuuming? If a carpet beetle does manage to sneak into your home and lay eggs in your carpet, you may kill the larvae before they have a chance to emerge.
Synthetic vs Natural
This is a very personal choice and we get it – you like natural fabrics. But if you’re having recurring problems with carpet beetles, it may be time to consider a more drastic redesign of your belongings.
By that, we mean replacing natural fibers with synthetic, man-made ones.
That’s simply because carpet beetles eat fabrics that come from animals like wool, and aren’t interested in synthetic fibers. These days, it’s possible to get carpets and upholstery made from entirely artificial fibers that are more or less indistinguishable from the natural version.
What Other Carpet Beetle Foods Do You Have?
Carpet beetles aren’t picky about where their food comes from. They will happily live in dark, dingy corners, feasting off the carcasses of dead insects.
Carpet beetles, like other dermestids, are also well-known for secondary infestation. For instance, let’s say you had a huge honeybee colony in your attic. Maybe the colony is still active, or maybe the bees have moved on.
Either way, there can be thousands of dead bees in your attic, and this provides a welcome food source for carpet beetles and other scavengers. Check attics, basements, crawlspaces, and other hidden areas for anything dead the carpet beetles might be eating.
The less there is to eat, the less attractive your home will be to them.
Bug Proof Lighting
A smart way to deter these flying pests from laying eggs in your home is to use a carpet beetle repellent like bug proof lighting. Adult carpet beetles are attracted to light. And different wavelengths of light are more attractive than others.
To avoid having adult carpet beetles flying toward your house attracted by your lights, consider switching to yellow lights like these ones.
Unlike regular white lights, these lights are designed to be less attractive to bugs, making them less likely to get in your house in the first place.
What About Moth Balls for Carpet Beetles?
Moth balls are commonly recommended and used for both carpet beetles and clothes moths. And we get it – it’s such an easy solution to keep your valuable clothing from being damaged. You just toss some in a closet and bam! Pest problem solved, right?
Not quite. We actually don’t recommend moth balls for carpet beetles.
Why? The main reason is that moth balls are quite toxic. Those white crystals are made up of chemicals like para-dichlorobenzene and/or naphthalene, which produce potent, toxic vapors. At the concentrations needed to be effective to kill carpet beetles, moth balls can also be dangerous for you.
This is especially true if you live with children and/or pets as moth balls can be especially harmful if accidentally ingested.
And this brings us to another reason why we don’t recommend moth balls: there is simply no reason for it. There are much safer and very effective ways to get rid of carpet beetles. Moth balls – and their health risks – simply aren’t even necessary.
How to Keep Carpet Beetles Away for Good
Carpet beetles are a very common pest in homes around the world. And because these bugs naturally live outside, it’s impossible to get rid of them completely.
However, there’s a lot you can do to prevent carpet beetles. In fact, by implementing the above carpet beetle repellent strategies, you can drastically reduce your chances of ever having to deal with a carpet beetle infestation.
Make your home less attractive to bugs, and treat them aggressively when you find them, and you should be able to protect your clothes and furniture from these annoying pests.