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Bed bug vs carpet beetle

How to tell the difference between these common pests

How to tell if you have bed bugs or carpet beetles from Active Pest Control in Atlanta GA & Knoxville TN metros and surrounding areas
Neither bed bugs nor carpet beetles are a welcome sight in any home. If left untreated, carpet beetles will eat through carpet and furniture fibers. Bed bug bites can cause skin irritation for all members of your household. You want to treat them as soon as you discover signs of their presence, but bed bugs and carpet beetles are different insects that require different types of treatment. To know what needs to be done you have to know what’s currently infesting your home.

If you want to tell bed bugs and carpet beetles apart, it’s best to look at their larvae:
Bed bug larvae look like regular bed bugs, only yellow-white or translucent and even smaller, while carpet beetle larvae look like miniature fuzzy caterpillars. Bed bugs take seven days to hatch and about a month to mature and reproduce. On the other hand, carpet beetles take fourteen days to hatch and two to three months to reach pupation. Both of these pests have a lifespan of up to a year or more, so it’s safe to say that their presence isn’t something that’ll go away on its own.

Bed bugs and carpet beetles have different habits that help set them apart:

  • Carpet beetles devour fabrics like carpet, wool, and other natural materials.
  • Carpet beetles may produce a rash from skin contact.
  • Bed bugs breed and live in mattresses or in and around beds.
  • Bed bugs feed on blood and leave red, itchy bites on people.
  • Bed bugs nest near their food source during the day and feed at night, while carpet beetles hide in dark and quiet areas throughout the house.

Carpet Beetles vs. Bed Bugs

In appearance, carpet beetles and bed bugs are easily confused for each other. They are both oval-shaped and tiny in size, but their similarities end there! Let’s go into their distinguishing features below.

Carpet beetles are splotched with shades of black, white, brown and yellow scales. They may come across as being striped or spotted. Carpet beetles have short antennae and are around 3mm long – smaller than most bed bugs.

Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, flat, and the size and shape of an apple seed. They’re 5-7mm long, and because of their size you can usually see their eyes up close.

The biggest difference is in each specimen’s larvae: Bed bug larvae look like smaller, lighter-colored bed bugs while carpet beetle larvae look like tiny fuzzy caterpillars. 

Carpet Beetle - Larvae

Carpet beetle larva

Carpet Beetle - Adult

Carpet beetle feeding on the pollen of a daisy

Bed Bug - Larvae

Bed bug nymph

Bed Bug - Adult

Adult bed bug on mattress

Do Both Bed Bugs and Carpet Beetles Bite?

Bed bugs bite but carpet beetles don’t. Bed bugs are known for feeding on the humans and animals within a household, especially bites in bed, leaving red bites on their arms, torso, neck or body as they drink in the middle of the night. These bites can be messy and irritated, and will often leave small blood spots on sheets and bedding.

Adult carpet beetles do not bite. When they’re outdoors they subsist on pollen, and if they manage to get indoors, they’re still more focused on feeding on carpet, wool and other natural materials. However, when they’re in their larval state they have small hairlike bristles on their skin that can provoke an allergic reaction to some humans.

Regardless of what pest is in your home, if any of these symptoms get worse it’s crucial to seek help from a medical professional. Then, once you’re safe, you can focus on contacting a quality pest control company.

Identifying Bed Bugs or Carpet Beetles in Georgia

Carpet beetles and bed bugs look a bit similar and cause similar symptoms, but they are quite different. Bed bugs are parasitic in nature, which is why they’re considered more of a threat than carpet beetles and other lesser pests. At the same time, both species are damaging and require a level of specialized treatment. If you are having difficulty identifying which pest you are dealing with, it’s recommended to enlist the help of a professional pest control company.

What you need to do is contact the team at Active Pest Control. We can tell you how to send us a photo that we can analyze to know for certain what type of treatment you need. From carpets to mattresses, if there’s a pest infestation, we’re the best ones to call. Contact us today to get started!