Is that a bed bug or a carpet beetle?

Jul 21, 2023, 12:02 PM by Fred Speer

Bed bug activity traditionally spikes during the summer. This is due, in large part, to increased travel activity, as Americans look to get away for vacation. While spending a week at the beach or on a cruise might be relaxing, bringing bed bugs home from your trip is not.

Bed bugs, in addition to being persistent and highly mobile pests, are hard to identify – unless you know what you are looking for or at. These insects are similar in appearance to other less-dastardly pests, making correct identification difficult unless it’s done by a trained pest control professional.

One pest that often gets confused with bed bugs is the carpet beetle. Both pests are found inside homes but can be separated by distinct characteristics and behaviors. Clark, your friendly pest, mosquito, rodent, and termite control – and grounds care – expert, would like to point out the differences between carpet beetles and bed bugs, and encourages you to contact the pest identification experts at Clark if you don’t know what that insect in your house is.


Carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped insects that range in size from 1.5 to 4 mm. They have colorful patterns on their backs, often with a combination of white, orange, black, and yellow scales. Their bodies are covered in dense hairs.

Bed bugs are also small, but slightly larger than carpet beetles, measuring around 4 to 5 mm in length. They are reddish-brown, and their bodies are flat and oval-shaped, resembling an apple seed. After feeding, they can become engorged and darker in color.


Carpet beetles are primarily scavengers that feed on a wide variety of natural materials, such as carpets, clothing, upholstery, fur, feathers, and even dead insects. They are attracted to natural fibers and animal-based products.

Bed bugs are blood-feeding parasites that solely rely on the blood of warm-blooded hosts, including humans, for their nourishment. They feed exclusively on blood, and their bites can cause itchy, red welts on the skin.

Habitat and behavior


Carpet beetles can be found both indoors and outdoors. They are more commonly found in dark, undisturbed areas, such as closets, attics, and underneath furniture. They may enter homes through open windows and doors or on infested items brought inside.

Bed bugs are primarily indoor pests and are found in and around beds, mattresses, and other furniture. They prefer to hide in cracks and crevices close to their hosts and come out at night to feed. They can also be found in other furniture, electrical outlets, and baseboards.

Reproduction and lifecycle

Carpet beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, which includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The larval stage is the most damaging, as it is the stage that feeds on household materials.

Bed bugs undergo simple metamorphosis, and their lifecycle includes three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Nymphs are smaller versions of adults and require a blood meal at each stage to molt and grow.

Health concerns

Carpet beetles can be a nuisance and cause damage to household items, but they are not known to transmit diseases to humans.

Bed bugs can cause physical discomfort due to their bites, leading to itching, redness, and irritation. Although they are not known to transmit diseases, their bites can result in secondary infections if scratched excessively.

Got pest questions? Call Clark

If you’ve got questions about the difference between bed bugs and other pests, and you’d like a correct identification of whatever pests may be in or around your home, call California’s trusted pest control expert, Clark, at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home.

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