Carpet Beetle - Fact File

Carpet BeetleSize: 2-4mm overall body length.
Markings: Thorax / elytra have white/beige/brown/black mottled markings to give a 'camouflage' appearance. Larval stages are small and hairy.
Location: Window ledges, under legs of furniture, roof spaces (bird's nests), carpets, clothes, furs and stuffed animals.
Detection: Visual sightings of adults or larvae. Chewed fibres and fabrics, often around fixtures and fittings. Cast larval skins.

Carpet beetles are found widely throughout Europe. There are several species of carpet beetle, including the two-spot carpet beetle (Attagenus pellio), the furniture carpet beetle (Anthrenus tlaviceps) and the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbascr).

The varied carpet beetle is the most commonly found infesting homes, and flies readily from site to site. The adult beetle is about 3mm in length and is dark brown, mottled with white or yellowish patches.


Adult beetles live out of doors, but females fly to lay between 50 and 100 eggs indoors on food material. These eggs hatch into the larval stage commonly known as the 'Woolly Bear'. The larvae are about 5mm in length and covered in tufts of arrow headed bristles which give rise to the common name.

During this larval stage the larva has between five and twenty skin moults. The larvae can remain at the larval stage for over 100 days depending on food supply and temperature. Pupation into the adult form occurs during the last of these skin changes.

Feeding Habits:

The adult beetles live on plants, feeding on pollen and nectar of e.g. Hogweed or Spirea. They enjoy bright warm conditions and cause no noticeable damage.

The larvae (Woolly Bears) feed on natural materials of animal origin such as bird nests and woollen carpets. During the long larval stage damage to clothing and furnishings made of natural fibres may be noticed. All natural fibres in the building should be examined to establish the extent of the infestation.

Signs of Infestation:

After the adult female has laid her eggs in the home she may be noticed on window boards attracted by the natural light, wanting to return to the plants and flowers outside which are her food source.

The larvae will be deep into their feeding material and are not sighted until very noticeable damage occurs to household furnishings. Cast larval skins may be evident, but will need in-depth inspection, as they are small and are usually in cracks and crevices. When checking for carpet beetle activity, it is important to lift and move as many of the items of furniture, furnishings and fabrics as possible, otherwise potential harbourages may be missed, and the infestation will quickly re-establish.


Complete eradication can only be achieved through a thorough treatment of the infested property. This includes the removal of bird nesting material from lofts and attics and infested pipe lagging. Dead bird or rodent carcasses may also be a source of infestation.

Spraying carpets and furnishings with an insecticide with some residual qualities is necessary - wettable powders are often thought best for these more porous surfaces. Care should be taken to avoid staining fabrics etc. with the insecticide. Aerosol applications to furniture are acceptable, but treatment of fabrics that come into contact with human skin or pets is best avoided.

It is wise to use a space spray, such as an ultra low volume (ULV) application, to supplement the insecticidal treatment, as this has the advantage of getting into all the nooks and crannies.

If the fabric, carpet or infested item is badly damaged, then disposal is the only answer. Many insurers will consider payment for damage by carpet beetles.

Where clothing is involved, hot washing (>60°C) or dry cleaning will also kill the insects. Vapour-releasing strips placed in the wardrobe will help in the control strategy. Odorous chemicals such as moth balls may dissuade the insects, but their use is limited.

A thorough vacuuming of all areas, both pre- and post-treatment is essential. Don't forget to remove the vacuum bag! Reinfestation via open windows or from birds nests etc. is a possibility, and the customer should be made aware of this potential.

If you need a fast, effective and reliable pest controller in the Bishops Stortford area
contact Cross Pest Control on:
Hertfordshire: 01920 822897
Mobile: 0777 5673088 or 0777 5673089