July 11, 2023

Bed Bugs vs. Carpet Beetles: Identification & Removal

Eek! What’s that bug crawling around your home?

When you have an insect infestation, you’re probably not sticking around long enough to see what pest is creeping around your bedroom. But how can you see the differences between bed bugs vs. carpet beetles? 

Please look at our blog to learn the best identification strategies for common household pests like bed bugs and carpet beetles!

Bed Bug and Carpet Beetle Characteristics

Bed bugs and varied carpet beetles don’t have similar appearances, so it’s relatively easy to tell these two pests apart. However, you could run into trouble if you have a brown carpet beetle infestation!

Typically a staple in infested bedrooms, bed bugs are small, brown blood-sucking pests. Bed bugs have small heads and large flat abdomens. Adult bed bugs can reach sizes of 5-6 mm, and females are slightly larger than male insects. 

Varied carpet beetles have a distinct multi-colored pattered that spreads across their tiny bodies. These pests have an amalgamation of black, brown, tan, and white splotches dotted around their shells. 

Brown and black carpet beetles are generally one solid color and slightly longer and thinner than varied carpet beetle species. These two insects range in size from 3-7 mm, comparable to a bed bug’s average length. 

The varied carpet beetle is more common than other species in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find other pests invading your home. However, you’re unlikely to mistake this tiny beetle for harmful bed bugs. 

Bed Bugs vs. Carpet Beetles: Brown Carpet Beetle

Once a bed bug feeds, its body elongates slightly. At first glance, you may have no idea what pest is crawling through your covers! Unlike their typical flat appearance, recently fed bed bugs often resemble another critter. 

After consuming sufficient blood, the bed bug’s body balloons and stretches out from its meal. Following digestion, its body flattens back to its more familiar shape. 

At first glance, a fed bed bug could resemble a brown carpet beetle. Both are similar in size, shape, and color, so it’s easy to mistake one for the other! This video shows how this homeowner misunderstands a carpet beetle for a bed bug. 

When you find small brown begs anywhere in your home, it’s normal to worry about a potential bed bug infestation. No one wants creepy crawlers bundling down in their bed.

If you feel comfortable getting up close and personal with these pests, try to take a good look at the shape of their bodies. Bed bugs have smaller heads, and their thorax cinches inwards before extending to their larger abdomens. 

Carpet beetles similarly have tiny heads, but their bodies tend to have a uniform oval shape throughout. While they look similar, a bed bug following feeding doesn’t look ovular and instead almost cylindrical.

Even after feeding, you can usually tell a bed bug apart from the run-of-the-mill carpet beetle. While ordinarily brown, bed bugs acquire a red or rusty brown color after consuming a blood meal.

Signs of an Infestation

So, how can you tell if your home is infested with bed bugs vs. carpet beetles? Because of their different purposes indoors, you shouldn’t have any trouble locating signs of an infestation of either insect.

Bed Bug Infestation

Despite hiding away in the seams of your furniture, bed bugs quickly make their presence known once indoors. There’s no mistaking this overnight guest!

Unlike other insects that may patrol your hallways or sneak through your pantry, these pests prefer to stay hidden until they can acquire blood from a stable and immobile host. They’re unlikely to feed on you during the day.

Many homeowners notice signs of bed bug activity following a good night's sleep or a lengthy nap. Instead of damaging your bedding or clothing, bed bugs only feed on your blood, leaving behind itchy and painful bites. 

You may notice bites grouped on your back, stomach, arms, or legs. While initially painless, you’ll experience some discomfort as the mark starts to develop on your body. Continued irritation could also exacerbate the itchy feeling. 

Bed bugs may also leave blood stains on your sheets or covers following feeding, especially if you accidentally squashed one of these pests in your sleep! Specks of blood could litter your bed after their initial bite. 

Like other insects, bed bugs may leave behind waste. While not as large as roach or mouse droppings, you can easily spot these black spots on your mattress or inside your sheets as your change them. 

Carpet Beetle Infestation 

While similar in appearance, there’s some key difference when your home is infested with bed bugs vs. carpet beetles.

You won’t have to worry about painful or itchy bites whenever you have carpet beetles inside your home. Adult and juvenile beetles can’t harm you and lack the appropriate appendages to pierce your skin.

Instead, home damage is the primary sign of a carpet beetle infestation in your home. As their name suggests, carpet beetles search for specific fabrics, fibers, and animal by-products to feast on.

While all carpet beetles have a negative reputation, adults can’t cause any damage to your home. Larvae are primarily responsible for damage to your clothing, rugs, blankets, and furniture. 

Homeowners primarily find small holes in their clothing or bare spots on carpeted items and rugs. The beetles won’t eat anything made of synthetic materials, so polyester and rayon items are typically safe; however, wool, leather, and cotton blends may fall victim to the beetles. 

Bed Bugs vs. Carpet Beetles: Removal

Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a one size fits all solution when you have either or both pests indoors. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to control and often require a pest control professional to remove them from your home. 

Many commercial options for bed bugs aren’t guaranteed to eliminate them, and leaving just one behind can jumpstart a new infestation!

Carpet beetles are easier to control, and you can even try some DIY options using diatomaceous earth. However, if you’re looking for reliable pest control, consider contacting Zunex Pest Control!

We cover bed bugs and carpet beetles, so you won’t have to worry about misidentification or figuring out the best way to deal with these pests. Contact us today to get your pest problem under control!

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