Usually if you think you have bed bugs you probably do, but sometimes another pest could be the issue – carpet beetles. These small bugs are visually distinctive from bed bugs, and don’t leave itchy bites, but they are still a big nuisance and should be taken care of ASAP.
Carpet beetles get their name from their love of eating carpets, although they will eat pretty much anything made of fabric. Clothing, linens, bedding – if it’s made of fabric then carpet beetles are happy to chow down. As this textile museum in the UK found out they can cause extensive damage if infestations go unchecked, similar to the damage caused by moths. While their choice of food distinguishes them from bed bugs, we have seen cases where people have had allergic reactions to the hairs on their exteriors, causing a rash that is easily mistaken for bed bug bites. However, unlike bed bugs carpet beetles won’t leave any residual staining or shed skins around your bed. It’s also much harder to find the actual bugs themselves as carpet beetle larvae are much smaller than adult bed bugs. If you suspect you have bed bugs always check around for signs of an infestation other than just the bugs (or bites), as these can often make it much easier to distinguish whether another pest is invading your home.
While carpet beetles can cause extensive damage they’re relatively easy to get rid of. Like bed bugs they can be killed with heat – just 30 minutes at 120F is sufficient to kill them. You can also treat carpet beetles by freezing the infested items for three days at -20F; however, make sure to limit the amount of air in the bags holding your items to reduce moisture and ice build up, as this can harm your fabric. We recommend heat over freezing as the risk of damage to items is much lower with heat. A thorough vacuuming and steam cleaning of your carpets and textiles is also a great way to treat and prevent carpet beetle infestations.