Carpet beetles are common household insect pests that can be found throughout the United States, but they are particularly abundant in the northern half of the country, while another group of fabric pests, clothes moths, are most abundant in the south. Several carpet beetle species commonly infest homes in Massachusetts including the black carpet beetle, the varied carpet beetle, the furniture beetle, the common carpet beetle, the birdnest carpet beetle, the odd beetle, and another common household beetle pest known as the larder beetle infests both fabrics and stored foods. Since carpet beetles inflict costly damage to clothing, carpeting, furniture upholstery, and virtually any fabric, they are categorized as economically significant insect pests. In addition to being economically significant pests, carpet beetles could also be considered medically significant pests due to the skin conditions that some people develop while living in homes infested with carpet beetles. This skin condition is known as carpet beetle dermatitis, and it is becoming more common along the eastern coast.

Skin conditions associated with certain insect pests are common, especially among children. There are four basic types of insect-related skin conditions that doctors treat frequently, and they include cutaneous larva migrans, scabies, lice, and carpet beetle dermatitis. According to Dr. of dermatology Albert C. Yan, carpet beetle dermatitis is most common in children, and cases are increasing in Massachusetts and other east coast states. Carpet beetle dermatitis afflicts people who spend a lot of time on infested carpeting, which tend to be children, and the condition presents as itchy patches of papules on skin. Carpet beetle dermatitis is an allergic condition that sometimes causes irritation in the eyes and respiratory tract. Patients often feel as though they sustained bites, but the larvae of carpet beetles don’t bite; instead, the rashes result from an acquired allergic response to larval hairs and hemolymph (insect blood) that make contact with the skin. Carpet beetle dermatitis was first described in 1948 by multiple doctors who had encountered the condition in patients.

Have you ever experienced insect-related allergy symptoms?