Bed Bugs Vs Carpet Beetles

Some insects leave a trail of panic and anxiety wherever they go, and bed bugs are one of those infestations you don’t want to have to deal with. It takes over your life.

Carpet beetles are commonly confused with bed bugs. And while carpet beetle infestations are a pain, they’re not as bad as bed bugs. So how do you know which one you have?

In this article, we’ll look at Bed Bugs vs Carpet Beetles so you can know what you’re dealing with.

Here are the basics:

  • Carpet beetles are one of the insects that many people confuse with bed bugs. 
  • Although the two insects are roughly the same size, some critical features distinguish them.
  • They have different reproductive behavior and their body shape differs. 

Bed bugs and carpet beetles have different mouth structures. The former’s is designed for piercing and sucking, while the mouthparts of the latter are designed for biting and chewing.

Read on for details on how to tell these two pests apart.

Bed Bugs 101

Bed Bugs or Cimex lectularius are small, flat insects whose main food source is human blood. They are tiny brown bugs that typically live in mattresses and bedding materials.

You can also find bed bugs in couches, carpets, the cracks in floorboards and walls, and other areas near their food source (that would be you, dear reader). 

Their color varies from a very light brown to a dark brown with hints of red. They look especially dark after feeding.

These notorious pests have six slender legs, two compound eyes, and two small antennae that protrude at right angles from the head. 

Unlike carpet beetles, bed bugs have a unique pattern along their back. Their abdomen is long, rounded, and flat, with horizontal lines running across it from side to side.

The abdomen is elastic, getting longer and more stretched as they feed. Males and females have a similar look, and both will happily suck on your blood like vampires.

Unlike carpet beetles, bed bugs have a unique pattern along their back. Their abdomen is long, rounded, and flat.

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, as they can stow away personal belongings, luggage, clothes, and bags to spread between rooms, houses, and hotels. You can bring them with you if you visit someone’s house. They may even spread to trains, airlines, movie theaters, and your child’s school.

Carpet Beetles 101

Carpet beetles look like ladybugs, but are light brown with black/dark brown spots. The two kinds of carpet beetles you often see infesting homes are the varied carpet beetle and the black carpet beetle.

Carpet beetles prefer being in the open air, but they sometimes accidentally end up in our homes.

They are attracted to lights, and their small size makes it easy to fly in through cracks in windows and doors.

Carpet beetles are tiny flat insects that are about 3mm long. Like bed bugs, they are oval-shaped from a dorsal view. Over time, carpet beetles can cause damage to your carpets, clothing, furniture, and other belongings.

They do not bite, but they crawl on people’s skin, triggering an allergic reaction that resembles a bite. Fortunately, carpet beetles are easier to get rid of than bed bugs.

Bed Bugs vs Carpet Beetles: the Key Differences

A carpet beetle mainly differs from a bed bug in size, appearance, and behavior. But there are other distinguishing features in both insects.

Let’s look at some of the differences.

A carpet beetle mainly differs from a bed bug in size, appearance, and behavior. But there are other features too.

1. Size

Bed bugs and carpet beetles may look similar, but a closer inspection will show you they’re not. Both insects are slightly different in size. Bed bugs tend to grow larger, having an average size of about 0.197 to 0.276 inches long. Adult bed bugs look a lot like apple seeds.

On the other hand, carpet beetles have an average length of 0.125 to 0.188 inches.

2. Appearance

Carpet beetles are oval-shaped and usually appear black or brown depending on the species. They also have some unique colors, like yellow and white, dotted across the thorax. The unique color scales give them a distinct look, although the color fades into black or brown as they age.

On the other hand, bed bugs have semi-translucent bodies and a brownish-red color, with monochromatic striping across their bodies. Like carpet beetles, bed bugs have oval-shaped bodies, but theirs are more pronounced.

3. Behavior

Carpet beetles are generally active during the day (diurnal), while bed bugs are nocturnal, mostly hiding during the day, and only come out at night to feed.

Carpet beetles in your home can be found just about anywhere you have fibers they can eat, but bed bugs usually keep to dark places. They are usually found along the edge of a bed and in other dark cracks and corners.

While many assume that both insects bite, it isn’t true for a carpet beetle. Their mouths aren’t designed for biting; they only create something similar to a bite pattern.

They mainly feed on fiber, wool, furniture, and other pieces of clothing, which makes them crawl on humans as they search for food. While crawling on humans, their larvae may come in contact with human skin, resulting in an allergic reaction. This reaction is what is often confused for a bite mark.

Bed bugs depend on blood and need it for several biological processes. They search for a food source at night and may travel a fair distance to feed. They bite humans to suck their blood, and they leave bite marks.

4. Diet

The diets of bed bugs and carpet beetles are largely different. Carpet beetles feed on and damage clothes, furniture, curtains, and anything that contains wool, fiber, leather, or felts.

Some species infest seeds, plants, and plant-based materials. With such a flexible diet, carpet beetles can be found anywhere in a home.

Bed bugs don’t have such a wide diet range. They feed strictly on blood and often depend on it for various biological activities, including reproduction. When food is available, a small colony can quickly grow into a large one.

5. Reproduction 

Another difference between both insects is their reproductive behavior. Carpet beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, while bed bugs don’t. The beetles metamorphose from eggs to larvae, then pupae, before finally developing into adults. The larvae stage looks different from the adult, as the adult is considerably smaller.

In contrast, bed bugs metamorphose from an egg into a nymph and then develop into an adult, making their metamorphosis incomplete. The nymphs look like smaller, translucent versions of the adults.

Bed bugs molt several times, and you can often find their husks if you’ve got an infestation.


Bed bugs and carpet beetles look relatively similar, but they aren’t. Once you look more closely, you’ll notice features that distinguish each. Besides their morphological features, you can also tell them apart but their behavior and diet.

Fortunately, neither transmit any disease, although they can leave itching spots on your skin.

When it comes to bed bugs vs carpet beetles, we would definitely take the carpet beetles! They are much less difficult to deal with, and are more interested in ruining your fabric and clothing than they are in ruining your life.

A bed bug infestation, on the other hand, will absolutely take over your life for months.