Carpet Beetle vs Bed Bug: What are the Differences?


carpet beetles and bed bug have one thing in common; nobody wants it near their home. Both insects are known for their devastating effect on furniture, clothing and human blood. They both produce the same effect and you might not be able to tell them apart at first glance. However, there are distinctive features that set the two apart. We will consider their differences in this article.

Compare a carpet beetle and a bed bug

A carpet beetle is smaller than a bed bug.

carpet beetle Bed bug
Species Dermestids Cimicidae
Cut 0.125 to 0.188 inches long. 0.197 to 0.276 inches long
Appearance Flat oval shape with a black, white, yellow and brown scale giving a mottled or striped appearance Brownish red flat oval shape.
Behaviour Feeds during the day and undergoes a complete metamorphosis.
Does not bite, but the larvae produce allergic reactions
Nocturnal insects.
Produce bite marks while feeding.
Diet Feeds on fibers, wool, leather and plant matter feeds on blood

The main differences between a carpet beetle and a bed bug

The main differences between a carpet beetle and a bed bug are in their size, appearance, and behavior. Although both insects have the same oval shape, the shape of the bed bug is more distinct than that of the carpet beetle.

And while the carpet beetle is a nocturnal insect, the bed bug prefers to stay hidden and is only active at night. But these are not the only differences between the two insects. Let’s explore their differences in detail!

Carpet beetle against bed bugs: Size

At first glance, carpet beetles and bed bugs may look similar, but on closer inspection you’ll notice that they are slightly different in size. When it comes to size, the bed bug tends to get bigger, with an average size of around 0.197 to 0.276 inches long. On the other hand, the carpet beetle only grows to about 0.125 to 0.188 inches in length.

Beetle vs Bed Bug Rug: Appearance

Types of Bed Bugs
The flat, oval body of bedbugs gives them the appearance of an apple seed.

Pavel Krasensky/

Generally, the carpet beetle is oval and usually appears black or brown, depending on the species. Also, they come with a unique color like yellow and white, which is usually dotted on the chest, giving a stripped or dotted look. These unique color scales give carpet beetles distinct appearances, although they tend to turn black or brown as the insect ages. The color scale is not only useful in differentiating the carpet beetle from a bed bug, it is also essential for species identification. For example, the furniture beetle has a white, yellow, or orange body, while the variegated carpet beetle has a white and yellow pattern.

On the other hand, bedbugs are distinguished by their reddish-brown color and semi-translucent body. Generally, their flat, oval body gives them the appearance of an apple seed. Although they share this oval-shaped characteristic with the carpet beetle, it is more pronounced in the bed bug.

Carpet beetle vs bed bug: behavior

Carpet beetle larvae – adult carpet beetles
The carpet beetle larva has hairs on its body which cause irritation evidenced by rashes when they crawl on the human body.

Tomasz Klejdysz/

Another major difference between the carpet beetle and the bed bug is their typical behavior. While the carpet beetle is diurnal (meaning it is active during the day), bed bugs are nocturnal (they only come out at night to feed while mostly hiding during the daytime).

Also, the carpet beetle can be found just about anywhere you have fiber for it to eat, but you will find a bed bug in dark places, usually along the end of a bed and other places. crevices that protect them from light.

It is assumed that both insects sting, but that is not true for a carpet beetle. Although they may produce a bite pattern or the like, the carpet beetle does not bite because its mouthparts are not designed for it. Their diet consists mainly of wool, fiber, furniture, and other clothing, which can cause them to crawl over humans in search of food.

What is presumed to be a bite mark is actually an allergic reaction produced when their larva comes into contact with human skin. Carpet beetle larvae has body hair that causes irritation evidenced by rashes (which closely resemble a bite) when crawling over the human body.

Blood is vital to a bed bug’s life cycle as it needs it for many biological processes. As they are nocturnal insects, they search for their food at night and travel a good distance to get it. Bed bugs bite because they need access to their food (blood). Usually they produce bite marks which are usually seen in a row of three when feeding in groups.

Beetle Vs. Bed Bug Rug: Reproduction

Another telling difference is their reproductive behavior. While carpet beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, their counterpart does not. The carpet beetle metamorphosis process is egg, larva, pupa and adult. It goes through a larval stage which differs from the adult in appearance. The adult version is significantly smaller than the larval stage. On the other hand, the metamorphosis process of bedbugs is egg, nymph and adult. The nymph resembles the smaller, translucent version of the adult.

Carpet beetle against bed bugs: diet

Carpet beetles and bedbugs have no similarity in their diet. The carpet beetle is considered a property hazard because it wreaks havoc on clothing, curtains, furniture, and anything with remote fibers, wool, leather, and felts.

Some carpet beetle species are known to infest plants, seeds and other plant-based materials. Due to their varied diet, they can be found virtually anywhere in the home.

Unlike the carpet beetle, bed bugs feed on blood, often relying on the brilliant red fluid for many biological activities like reproduction. The availability of blood makes it possible to quickly enlarge a small colony with an adult female capable of laying five eggs per day.


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