The average Australian homeowner has enough trouble keeping deadly snakes, venomous spiders and disease-spreading rats out of their home, and if you see a small, innocuously looking beetle scuttling across your carpet you might be tempted to leave it be. However, that small beetle could be the harbinger of a much larger problem.
Australia plays host to several species of carpet beetle, and while the beetles themselves are largely harmless, their offspring certainly are not. Carpet beetle larvae feed on keratin, a natural substance found in hair and fingernails. Unfortunately, wool is also rich in keratin, and hungry carpet beetles can lay waste to woollen carpets, clothing, curtains and furniture covers remarkably quickly. It goes without saying that any carpet beetles invading your living room should be removed as soon as possible.
How can I recognise a carpet beetle infestation?
Carpet beetles are small, slow-moving and difficult to spot, but if you spot two or more small, slow-moving beetles crawling across your living room carpet in a day, you should take the time to check for an infestation. Damaged or bald sections of carpet are a telltale sign of hungry beetle larvae, especially if they are located underneath furniture or in other dark, sheltered areas. You should also check living room cushions, curtains and blankets for damage.
You can also recognise a carpet beetle problem by what the beetles and their larvae leave behind. If you spot small deposits of a dry, sandy substance close to damaged sections of fabric, you are probably looking at carpet beetle droppings. Tiny, empty egg sacs are also a common find and indicate that new carpet beetle larvae have hatched recently.
What should I do if I discover a carpet beetle problem?
If you are reasonably sure that carpet beetles have invaded your living room, there are steps you can take to try and tackle the problem yourself. Vacuuming followed by a thorough steam cleaning of the affected carpets and furnishings can be effective, especially if the infestation is not yet well established. Many homeowners also use homemade beetle killers made from white wine vinegar and/or boric acid; these simple concoctions can be very effective when sprayed onto areas where beetle larvae feed and shelter.
Unfortunately, carpet beetles are durable and breed quickly, and DIY pest control attempts may not be enough to fix the issue, especially if carpet beetles are breeding beneath your floorboards or inside wall cavities. There is also another, more ominous problem — some species of carpet beetle have developed a powerful resistance to permethrin. Permethrin is the most commonly used insecticide for killing fabric pests, and in many places, it is the only one you can buy over-the-counter.
As such, calling in a professional pest control service specialising in carpet beetle removal is always the best option. These professionals will be able to quickly determine the most likely hiding spots for carpet beetles and their larvae and can deploy specialised insecticides and other chemicals that reliably kill permethrin-resistant beetles. They will also be able to root out hidden breeding grounds in walls and floors and can deploy traps, poisoned baits and preventative spray treatments to stop the infestation from reoccurring.
If you think you have carpet beetles, contact a pest control company to get rid of the infestation.