Most carpet beetles begin life outdoors, feeding on materials such as plants, dead animal fur and bird nests. Their small size makes it easy for them to enter homes and buildings undetected. People sometimes bring the beetles into homes and offices, not knowing the insects are hidden inside certain items.
Carpet beetles infesting a home or commercial office building often find their way inside through small cracks in doors and windows, or any area that isn't sealed tightly. Once indoors, the beetles find hiding spots in carpeting, hair, stuffed animals, clothing and can even wind up in food. Female adult beetles lay numerous eggs and the hatched larvae cause most of the damage. Carpet beetle larvae are similar in appearance to tiny worms with hair sticking out of its body. The larvae feed on natural carpet fibers but they are not able to feed on synthetic fibers. Larvae also feast on foods such as pasta and cereal. Clothes and items made with wool, silk or other animal sources are at high risk of an infestation.
Carpet beetle management involves discarding any items too infested to save, particularly food. Infested carpeting, clothing and furnishings must be thoroughly cleaned or vacuumed. Infestation prevention involves sealing cracks and crevices in doors and windows and checking items for infestation before storage.