Spring is in the Air – Protect your Rugs from Moths and Carpet Beetles

While spring brings welcome rain and flowers blooming, it also brings bugs. Lots of them. Wool moths, Tineola Bisselliella and carpet beetles, Anthrenus Verbasci. If any creatures on the planet can be called the enemy of oriental rugs, it’s these little buggers. These pesky intruders literally eat through the wool of your rug, causing damage quickly and quietly.

Too frequently, beautiful hand woven Persian or Navajo rugs come to Serafian’s for cleaning only to find the rugs have been destroyed by moths or carpet beetles. Worse yet, they often move swiftly, leaving a trail of damage in their wake.

Moth - 02
The damage in this rug occurred in about 1 to 2 weeks time.

The lifespan of the average carpet moth is very short, the larvae phase lasts on average about two weeks to a month, and the adult phase about another month. Only the larvae eat wool, so while you are more likely to see the adults fluttering through your home, it’s the larvae that do the real damage. Unfortunately, this means that a rug can go from undamaged to having a huge hole in just a couple of weeks. Carpet beetles, however, do damage over more time, with a much longer lifespan and some subspecies living as long as three years. Unlike their moth counterparts, carpet beetles will eat at your rug for their entire life. In either case, quick identification, elimination, and prevention are the keys to keeping your rugs safe.

For a little more information on Moths, check out our very “Tongue-in-cheek” video here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvgxRnEqJKg

How do you identify them? For wool moths, keep an eye out for the adults flitting around your home or the eggs laid on the surface or on the back of your rugs. The large moths that we see every year here in the early months of summer are no threat to your rugs. Adult wool moths are small, about the size of a grain of rice. They are tan in color with no particular design or pattern on their wings. The eggs look like grains of sand held together by spider webs.

Moth - 01
The eggs themselves are tiny, about the size of a grain of sand.  The silky webbing from the parents hold the eggs in place.

Carpet beetles are tiny, about the size of a pinhead. You can identify them by finding either the beetles themselves or by finding small black or brown husks or shells. In both cases, the insects like to attack dark and undisturbed areas on your rugs. So look for them under your furniture, rolled up in your closets, and on the backside of any rugs hanging on the walls.

Moth and Carpet beetle larva
These critters are pretty tiny. – Pictured above, the larval forms of each.

Elimination is a little trickier. You need to not only eliminate the moths, beetles, and eggs on the rug itself, but also any that might be in the surrounding area. Most insecticides are effective at killing any living infestation, but unfortunately not that great at killing off the eggs. Also, any use of insecticides in the home comes with risk to one’s own health and safety. Instead, we recommend you have your rugs professionally washed by a cleaner who knows how to eliminate these infestations. Proper temperature control and handling will eliminate any eggs that have been laid into the foundation of your favorite carpet. As for your home, thorough cleaning of any area exposed to infestation is very important as the eggs can slips into the cracks of your wood floor or down into your wall-to-wall carpet. As with your rugs, we recommend utilizing professional cleaners. If after taking these steps, the moths or beetles persist, it’s time to get in touch with an exterminator.

As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Various sprays can help to repel moth infestation, regular inspection goes a long way to identifying a problem before it spirals out of control, and proper wrapping and storage of unused rugs can easily prevent infestation. Always remember that if you take a little time to ensure that your rugs stay moth and beetle free, it will ensure your favorite rugs stay beautiful and valuable for many years to come.


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By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

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