Summary: Dermestid beetles can do great damage to woolens and furs and can be a costly pest to have around, but if you can invest some time and work, they can be effectively controlled.
Dermestid beetles are commonly known as carpet beetles, khapra beetles, leather or hide beetles, and larder beetles. The name "dermestid" comes from a Greek word for "skin." They have that name because they will eat all the soft tissue off of a skeleton, leaving it cleaner than most professional taxidermy chemicals. Now if you happen to have a large collection of carcasses that you need to clean, I'd recommend that you grow a whole colony of carpet beetles and turn them loose in your workshop. However, if you're not a taxidermist or if your skeleton collection is already clean, you probably don't want a clan of beetles living in your living room.
Dermestid beetles don't just eat flesh; they also destroy things made of wool, silk, fur, or feathers, as well as any other natural fiber. Curtains, upholstery, clothing and, you guessed it, carpet are all endangered by dermestid beetles. How can you protect your home from these beetles? Well, you could start by replacing all your carpets with tile or hardwood floors. But, you're probably going to have a hard time installing tile furniture and hardwood curtains. Fortunately, there are other ways to rid your home of dermestid beetles. It'll take some work and careful cleaning, but in most cases, you can rid your home of these pests.
The first thing to do is to make sure you've got the right bug. Catch a few of the critters and spend some time examining them closely. Adult dermestid beetles are small (they grow to less than half an inch long), dark and hairy. The larvae are usually brown with lighter yellow stripes and, like the adults, they are also hairy.
The second step to dealing with dermestid beetles is getting rid of whatever is attracting them. As awful as it sounds, an infestation of these beetles usually means that there's a dead-something nearby that they're feeding on. Check your home thoroughly for dead mice, birds, neighbor kids and small animals. Empty nests from birds or wasps provide food for the beetles.
Accumulations of pet hair also attract dermestid beetles. Also, make sure you don't have any food (especially meat!) stored improperly.
Remove and clean up any carcasses you find, and properly seal and store any food that may be in the open. In many cases the beetles will simply leave if you're not providing anything for them to eat.
The third item on our dermestid beetle removal checklist is extermination. You can use a residual pesticide like Suspend SC or Tempo 1% Dust around the baseboards, tight places or crevices. Doorframes, window sills and other entry points to your home are also potential problem spots. Of course, you'll want to be sure to pick a safe pesticide if you have pets or small children in your home. Creating another carcass will only make things worse. You can use a spray to apply the insecticide to problem areas or you use a dust pesticide to treat your target zones. The two pesticides I've mentioned are designed for dermestid or carpet beetles.
The final step is to prevent a beetle sequel. If you've found the beetles or their larvae near clothing, wash it. Wash it in hot water or have it dry cleaned, if necessary. Just make sure you get all the bugs out of it. You can use naphthalene flakes, mothballs or PDB to help prevent the beetles from returning. The best part of prevention, of course, is to keep things clean. Vacuum pet hair, store food properly, keep any eye out for dead animals. In short, keep a clean home.
Now, there are places where the dermestid beetle cure goes beyond cleaning and spraying on your own. In cases like those, we would definitely recommend that you contact an exterminator and let a professional do battle with your beetles.
11 Oct 2011, 19:14
I think I have an infestation of some kind of dermestid beetle, but not
attacking fibers (yet). They are all in my kitchen cabinets. I'm wondering
what damage can they do to wood? I suspect that these guys came in on some
grain or something since I buy most of my food in bulk, does that seem
plausible? Are either of the chemicals you recommended safe for children,
all my kids are small and like to do things like lick the floors so I need
Ask the Exterminator
12 Oct 2011, 16:03
I'm betting it's a pantry pest, rather than a fabric pest. You need to
check everything in your pantry that has an expired use date. Flour beetles
and the like can develop in unused foods even when boxes have never been
24 Dec 2011, 14:09
I found them in light fixtures and they are coming out of tub surround and
house plants. I spray and keep a clean home. My husband has a dear head and
stuffed mink. He is attached to them. Must get rid of these bugs. I also
found them in a cork buliton board. They bother me.
11 Mar 2012, 15:31
I live in northern New York State - near the Canadian border. We are trying
to get rid of larder beetles in our home. We did get rid of the food
However, tempo dust, etc cannot be sold iin NYS and we can't afford a pest
control company. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Ask the Exterminator
13 Mar 2012, 16:18
Sanitation is the first step in controlling established larder beetle
problems. Clean up and remove infested food sources and make uninfested
sources inaccessible to larder beetles. Store dry pet food in a metal or
heavy plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Also keep stored fur and
feather items in similar containers. Store cheese and dried meats in a
It is common for a larder beetle infestation to occur as the result of a
cluster fly or face fly problem in homes or cabins. In late summer and
fall, these flies seek shelter in buildings. Large numbers of these flies
die in wall voids attracting larder beetles to that area the following
year. Larder beetles can also feed on animal carcasses, such as a mice or
squirrels, that become trapped inside buildings and die.
15 Mar 2012, 23:56
I concur with the folks who get blank stares from exterminators when
mentioning carpet beetles. Most of them have never heard of them. One
exterminator identified it immediately , followed with "they're a nusiance
but harmless. you don't need treatment". The things were wandering all over
my bassement where we ahve had flooding and where the cat litter boxes are.
hte house is infiltrated because of ingorant exterminators who told me not
to worry about it and to vacuum. They neglected to tell me to throw the bag
out after every vac. We have a 4 story house 3 floors of w2w and mold. the
condo association refuses to stop the water infiltrating from common area
neglect and unit owners won't fire them .
19 Mar 2012, 07:31
can these things stain carpets? I've been trying find out what these bugs
are and after finally finding a picture of them online, I'm kind of
relieved. but I'm just wondering if these bugs give off an odor? at first I
thought they were millipedes because of the smell.. at one point my clothes
really stunk (and they were clean) do I'm guessing these bugs had gotten
into my bins where I keep my clothes. there are also brown stains at the
crevices of my walls which leads to my original question, can they stain
carpets? like of they were to die or something? and how can I get rid of
them? I am a very a tidy person I live alone an have no pets in my
apartment. I am really paranoid.. pretty paranoid of any big in general
14 Nov 2012, 22:11
What if i can't find the source (dead carcass possibly in wall cavity). How
do I control the larvae from entering the house? Have fumigated but so
far... No go. Assuming I have to live with them for a while, how long until
they eventually disappear?
14 Mar 2013, 22:20
I am currently doing some temp work for a dog food warehouse and the
supervisor opened up a box and a bunch of these bugs where inside. they
didnt do anything about the bugs but they continue to package the product
and ship it out. i think thats kinda gross. is that common in the dog food
industry in CA?
04 Jun 2013, 17:33
I had a bed bug infestation about 10 months ago. I have been finding more
and more of these beetles in the most heavily infested room.
is it possible:
1-they are eating dead bed bugs
2-could they eat the boxspring and mattress encasements?
Ask the Exterminator
05 Jun 2013, 13:32
It is possible that the dermestid beetles are feeding upon other dead
insects. It is not possible that they are eating the box spring and/or
15 Dec 2013, 21:18
Just found the larvae and casings all over my 2 teenage boys' ( messy)
rooms. No beetles,yet.We have spent the day cleaning, vacuuming and doing
laundry? What next? Vacuumed the mattresses and beds but they both have
heavy wooden boxy beds. Will they nest in the frames? If so, do we need to
spray or dust with chemicals?Contact an exterminator?
Ask the Exterminator
16 Dec 2013, 16:42
Remove the dust cover from the bottom of the box spring. Vacuum and treat.
You will have to continue treating to beat down the population. Dust lasts
much longer than liquid pesticides. Just be sure to avoid contact.
02 Jan 2014, 18:11
"Now there are some times where the dermestid beetle..."
Uh, I believe you meant "times when" (it would be "places where")
Ask the Exterminator
03 Jan 2014, 11:41
Thanks! It's been corrected.
26 Jun 2014, 16:35
Can carpet beetles fly?
13 Jul 2014, 10:12
My mother has a problem with just the larvae. She presently put insulation
in the ceiling of the basement and how the larvae are on the upper floor
and the basement. Is it possible that the eggs were laid in the insulation?
And how do we get rid of them?
17 Jul 2014, 09:13
I just found a few dozen tiny black oval bugs on my bed!! i do not know
what kind of bug it is but I'm very freaked out and don't know what to
do!?!?!? please help
Ask the Xterminator.
18 Jul 2014, 10:33
Identification is the first step in pest control. Collect a bug in a jar
and take it to your local county extension agent's office for a proper ID.
Once you know for certain what species of bug you have you can easily find
what steps you must take to control it.