It can be hard sometimes to identify the type of pest you have, particularly if it’s an unfamiliar-looking bug. But knowing what kind of pest you have can go a long way to knowing how to deal with the problem. Some bugs look quite similar, though, such as carpet beetles and bed bugs. Here’s how to tell them apart.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are annoying little pests that traditionally infest anywhere that humans spend a lot of time. As they are attracted to heat, this can be anything from beds to living room furniture to the spaces behind TVs, picture frames and window shades. They are about the size of an apple seed, oval in shape and reddish-brown in color. Since they feed on blood, one of the most common ways to find out that you have an infestation is through finding clusters of itchy red bite welts on your skin. Some other signs of their presence are:

  • Discarded skins
  • Small bits of fecal matter
  • Tiny red blood spots from when they feed
  • White eggs about the size of a pinhead

Bed bug infestations can be prevented by keeping your linens and living area clean and by keeping track of the items you bring into your home. Bed bugs are hitchhikers, and commonly get from place to place by riding on clothing or in luggage. They are also hardy creatures and excellent at hiding, so it may be difficult to find them. It’s even more difficult to completely eradicate them by any other method besides a professional exterminator.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are different from bed bugs in many ways. First and foremost, they feed not on blood but on animal-based fibrous materials like textiles, silk and fur, much like clothing moths. Some varieties even feed on plant-based materials, meaning they can also be found in food products. They, or rather their larvae—which cause the most damage—are often found on carpets and rugs, hence their name.

However, carpet beetles do not tend to infest articles that are in use and regularly cleaned. They usually feed on stored fibrous material, particularly in the folds of fabric, such as under shirt and coat collars and in rolled-up carpets. These insects can cause a great deal of damage to personal possessions without being detected, and because adult carpet beetles lay so many eggs (up to 50 or 100), they can become widespread in a rapid amount of time, and therefore difficult to contain and fully eradicate. 

Carpet beetles are also generally smaller than bed bugs, about ⅛-¼ inch, and they differ in color from black to varied patterns of brown, orange, yellow and white. Larvae are covered in scaly yellow and white skin with yellowish bristly hair. These bristles can cause an allergic reaction on human skin similar in appearance to bed bug bites, though carpet beetles do not actually bite humans.

Carpet beetles typically breed in areas where edible fibers are plentiful, whether that be the old rug in the attic or vents where a lot of animal fur has collected. Therefore, infestations are preventable by keeping these textile products clean, and keeping any stored fabrics in protective containers such as plastic bags and boxes. You can also protect them by keeping them in cold storage areas. Infestations can be treated by laundering and vacuuming affected articles, and also through the use of pesticides.

What To Do About Bed Bugs and Carpet Beetles

Both bed bugs and carpet beetles can be difficult to find and completely eradicate. They also often require the use of advanced chemicals and techniques. Because bed bugs hide easily and can resist many DIY extermination techniques, and because carpet beetle infestations often happen in easy-to-miss places, it’s best to leave thorough exterminating to professionals. If you want to learn more or think you have a bed bug or carpet beetle infestation, contact Dodson Pest Control for a free inspection today!