Carpet beetles, as their name implies, are capable of damaging carpets. These pests will also feed upon many other materials besides carpets and will attack any item composed of animal fibers such as wool, furs, silk, feathers, felt and leather. Serious infestations of carpet beetles can develop undetected in a home, causing significant damage to clothing, bedding, floor coverings and other articles.
Although there are many different species of carpet beetles, the adults of all species are small, oval-shaped beetles about 1/8 inch long. The black carpet beetle (the most common species) is shiny black. Adults of other common species are brightly colored in various patterns of white, brown, yellow and orange. The larvae or immature stages of carpet beetles are about 1/4 inch long and densely covered with hairs or bristles. Only the larval stage feeds on fabric and causes damage. The adults feed on flowers, but are often seen indoors around light fixtures and windows, indicating that a larval infestation is present somewhere within the home.
Carpet beetles feed on a variety of animal-based materials including wool, fur, silk, feathers and leather. Items commonly infested include wool sweaters, coats, blankets, carpets, down pillows and comforters, and upholstered furniture. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and rayon are rarely attacked unless they are heavily soiled with food stains or body oils. They prefer to feed in dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, attics, within boxes where woolens and furs are stored, along and under the edges of carpeting, underneath upholstered furniture, and in air ducts where they feed on lint, pet hair and other bits of debris.
Carpet beetle infestations may also originate from bird or animal nests or an animal carcass present in an attic, chimney or wall void. They also occasionally feed on seeds, pet food or cereal products in the kitchen or pantry.