Every organism in nature has an adaptation, a specialty, a job to do. Carpet beetles are no exception. While termites and carpenter ants are busy breaking down wood debris in the forest, flies and maggots are doing the important work of consuming the fleshy proteins of fallen carcasses. Carpet beetles are sort of the demolition subcontractor to fly maggots in that they consume the leftovers: Keratin proteins found in Skin, hide, fur, antlers, nails, feathers and hooves. All this works on balance in nature but, as usual, humankind has an expectation that this process does not extend into it’s domicile.
Carpet beetles can easily fly into your home or be carried in on outdoor pets. Adult beetles feed on flower pollen and can be carried in on cut flowers. They can be found infesting bird nests or wasps nests in your eaves. They will feed on animal carcasses in your walls and crawl space, or on wool clothing and rugs. Folks who display hunting trophies report that carpet beetles will infest those and animal skin rugs as well. Dry pet food is a common food source.
The good news is that these beetles do not bite, destroy structures or carry disease. Control can be difficult if a food source is hidden out of reach but if you can find all current or potential food sources, that is the beginning of disrupting their life cycle. Aggressive cleaning of hidden corners where larvae may be living among pet hair or insect carcasses, frequent vacuuming, properly sealed storage of animal sourced goods and pet foods all help discourage a re-infestation of carpet beetles. You may not notice these beetles in your home until you see a few being drawn towards outdoor light on your window sills when the adults are in reproductive mode.
Feel free to give Wolbert’s a call if you feel overwhelmed with an infestation of carpet beetles. We can inspect and help identify conditions that may need to be resolved. Chemical controls alone are usually limited in effectiveness. Here is a WSU bulletin with more details: