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carpet beetles insects

Do carpet beetles sting?

First of all, what is a carpet beetle? These are little beetle like insects (in fact they are a type of beetle) from 2 to 4 millimeters in size, that like to live and feed off of dead organic matter, like the natural fibers of wool blankets, feathers, animal hides, carpets, or the carcasses of preserved animals. This makes them a pest in their own right as they can eventually destroy many household items and stored clothing, this is especially true of the larval stage of the insect which is the the one that causes most of the damage these insects produce.

 

Now, the short answer to the question that titles this article, is no, carpet beetles don’t sting or bite, but there is a longer answer to that question which follows. They don’t bite or sting, still that doesn’t mean they don’t produce a reaction that looks a lot like a sting or bite in some people that have developed an allergic response to these insects. Apparently the allergic response is triggered by small hairs in the larval stages of the insect, or even the contact with some shed skins of these larva. People that suffer the allergic reaction report getting multiple itching red welts that can look like a rash on different parts of their skin during sleep, making them believe that this has been some kind of bite or sting, and the most commonly invoked culprit turns out to be another common household pest, the bed bug. Bed bugs do bite as they need to feed off of your blood, just like mosquitoes do, and they do also produce red itching welts caused by the allergic reaction to the saliva and other fluids they inject into the bite. Both bed bugs and carpet beetles are attracted to you while you sleep, by the warmth and CO2 that you expel, so due to the similarities in their habits and reaction by some people they tend to get confused many times.

 

There are important differences between bed bugs and carpet beetles, the most important one being that the method required to eliminate carpet beetles can be a lot lighter on the wallet, while bed bugs usually require some form of professional pest elimination and the professionally hefty price tag that goes with it. Bed bugs are larger in size and easy to detect on or around an infested bed, while carpet beetles are more shy and much harder to find, this is a giveaway of a carpet beetle infestation. The solution for getting rid of carpet beetles usually just requires the thorough cleaning, vacuuming, dry cleaning, etc. (although sometimes just putting the suspect items in full sunlight for a couple of hours can do the job) of the probable sources of food for them, like carpets, blankets, bed sheets, pillows, teddy bears, clothing, animal skins, or animal carcasses or parts that have undergone preservation or taxidermy. The bad news is that carpet beetles actually fly, unlike bed bugs, so they can come flying back in and infest a house again. Vigilance and good housekeeping and regular cleaning is the key. Nevertheless, in a case of heavy infestations the use of pesticides may be necessary.

 

Daniel Barsa

This document is licensed for commercial use with modification.