Carpet beetles, which belong to the family of beetles known as dermestids, are pests in warehouses, homes, museums, and other locations where suitable food exists. In California, three species of carpet beetles cause serious damage to fabrics, carpets, furs and stored food: the varied carpet beetle, the furniture carpet beetle, and the black carpet beetle.
Carpet beetle adults don’t feed on fabrics but seek out pollen and nectar. They are attracted to sunlight, and you’ll often find them feeding on the flowers of crape myrtle, spiraea, buckwheat, and other plants that produce abundant pollen. However, you can accidentally bring these pests inside on items such as cut flowers. With their rounded bodies and short antennae, carpet beetles somewhat resemble lady beetles in shape.
Damage occurs during the larval stage of carpet beetles. Larvae feed in dark, undisturbed locations on a variety of dead animals and animal products such as wool, silk, leather, fur, hair brushes with natural bristles, pet hair, and feathers; occasionally they feed on stored products such as certain spices and grains. They don’t feed on synthetic fibers.
It’s not always possible to tell from the damage whether clothes moths or carpet beetles caused it, but in general carpet beetles are more likely to damage a large area on one portion of a garment or carpet while moth damage more often appears as scattered holes. Carpet beetle larvae also leave brown, shell-like, bristly-looking cast skins when they molt. These skins and a lack of webbing are usually good clues that carpet beetles are the culprits.