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It is not uncommon for pest control professionals in Arizona to receive calls from concerned residents about small black bugs with orange spots infesting various areas of a home. These creatures are commonly known as carpet beetles, and they are notorious for being one of the most difficult insect pests to control within homes and buildings. Unfortunately, there exists three carpet beetle species in Arizona. These species are commonly known as the varied carpet beetle, the black carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle.

Most of the carpet beetle specimens that are brought into the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension offices by residents hoping to have the insects identified originated either from inhabited homes or from storage areas where keratin-rich materials, like feathers and certain textiles, are abundant. When carpet beetles invade homes they plant their eggs on any sort of material containing keratin. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein found in hair, skin, animal furs, clothing textiles, dried plant matter, rugs, carpeting and a variety of other materials. These materials are targeted by adult carpet beetles looking to plant their eggs within a keratin-rich environment that will supply their developing larvae with an abundance of food after they emerge from their eggs.

Carpet beetles inflict damage to clothing that is similar in appearance to the damage that some moth species inflict on clothing. But carpet beetle damage is usually clustered in one area of clothing or carpet, while moth damage is more sporadic. Unlike moth pests, carpet beetles shed their exoskeletons when they molt. These brown-colored and shell-like exoskeleton castings are usually visible within an area where the larvae had caused damage. The presence of these castings allow residents and pest control experts to discern carpet beetle damage from other forms of insect damage.

Carpet beetles are difficult to control, as these insects can find food in a variety of different locations, and they disperse rapidly throughout a structure. The most effective way to prevent carpet beetle infestations is to reduce the amount of lint, hair, dead plant matter, dead insect matter and any other forms of matter within a home that carpet beetles feed upon. It is particularly important to eliminate all spider and cobwebs from within a home, as these webs provide carpet beetles with a substantial amount of sustenance. Regular dusting and vacuuming can greatly reduce a homeowner’s chances of falling victim to a carpet beetle infestation.

Have you ever found a large amount of insects within your home that you could not identify?

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