Case Studies

Pests We Treat Case Studies: Spot on the Rug Actually a Carpet Beetle in Middletown, NJ

Monday, March 4th, 2019 by Julie Kaye


A homeowner in Middletown, NJ, contacted Cowleys after observing bugs crawling around on one of her rugs. She was concerned that the infestation would continue to spread, and she wanted the problem handled immediately, especially since she did not know what type of bug she was dealing with. 

Upon arrival, I carefully inspected all of the rugs throughout the house. Locating live bugs can be “hit or miss” because they may be foraging in other locations or hiding in some crack or crevice. Here, however, I caught two bugs red-handed. At first, I thought that I may be looking at two small dark sports or stains. But then the “spots” started moving! I caught both of the culprits and placed them on a white paper towel to examine them. These bugs were not one of our regulars. There can literally be hundreds of types of occasional insect invaders in our homes, and it’s important to properly identify the pest because the effectiveness of the treatment protocols and applications hinges on knowing what you are dealing with. I suspected that these tiny bugs were carpet beetles, which are often misidentified with other pests, specifically bed bugs and fleas. I wanted to confirm my suspicions, so I took a few pictures of the bugs and sent them to one of our senior technicians and resident entomologist, Chris Fyfe, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of pests. He is an invaluable resource for all of the Cowleys techs when there are questions in the field. Chris confirmed that this home was in the midst of a carpet beetle infestation.

Carpet beetles, as their name suggests, are often found feeding on natural fibers found in carpets and rugs. These bugs do not limit their diet to just rugs and carpets. They are happy to eat silk, hair, feathers, fur, paper (including books), grains, spices, and pet food. As mentioned, carpet beetles are often confused with bed bugs, external parasites that feed on human blood. Although carpet beetles do not bite like bed bugs, they can cause a similar red itchy welt due to an allergic reaction from the small prickly hairs. Although bed bugs are small, carpet beetles are even smaller — an adult carpet beetle is no more than 1/8”. If carefully inspected they have a different appearance. Bed bugs are reddish brown, flat, and shaped like an apple seed while carpet beetles usually have white and yellow-brown scales and turfs of hair on their abdomen. 


For this homeowner, I sprayed the edges of the wall-to-wall carpeting near the baseboard with a light liquid application of Alpine WSG and Gentrol to kill any eggs and live pests. I also sprayed all of the throw rugs in the home, turning them over to spray both sides since they often hide underneath. 

The lesson here is that many bugs look the same to the untrained eye, and the treatment plan depends on the type of bug and the level of infestation in the home. It’s far more effective to use a pest control service instead of those all-purpose “bug sprays” from hardware stores often just stink up your home and scatters the insects to new locations, further spreading the infestation.