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Carpet beetles are well at home in every region of the United States, but they are particularly abundant in the northeast. Little do many people know, most carpet beetle species are capable of flying, which allows these insects to easily enter homes during the spring, summer and fall seasons. However, most carpet beetle infestations start after the insects hitchhike into homes on food products, clothes, furniture, animal furs, and many other materials. The manner in which carpet beetles enter homes varies by species, and this is also the case when it comes to the types of food and textile items that the insects gravitate toward.

Several beetle species that are commonly referred to as “carpet beetles” have been been found infesting homes and buildings in the northeast, including the varied carpet beetle, the larder beetle and the black carpet beetle. As it happens, carpet beetle infestations in homes can become more than just a destructive nuisance, as researchers have documented numerous instances in which the insects have caused people to develop certain medical conditions.

Research publications and case reports describing humans developing skin conditions and severe allergy symptoms in response to carpet beetle infestations go all the way back to 1948. Today, doctors know that carpet beetle exposure can cause humans to develop a variety of dermatological conditions, including papular urticaria, pruritus, and dermatitis involving papular eruptions. The medical community is also in agreement that, much like mites and cockroaches, carpet beetle species serve as allergens within the homes that they infest.

Numerous carpet beetle species from the Anthrenus, Attagenus, Dermestes and the Trogoderma genera can induce a variety of medical conditions in humans, but the Anthrenus verbasci species seems to be the most significant in this regard. This species is the most common and destructive carpet beetle species to infest homes in the northeast, and it is more commonly known as “the varied carpet beetle”. One particular case report described a man who had developed itchy and painful skin lesions and papules in response to the hundreds of varied carpet beetles that had been eating away at his bathroom rug. Another report described a 5 year-old boy who developed bothersome allergy symptoms in response to a varied carpet beetle infestation within his home. Although the boy’s parents had known about the infestation, they would never have guessed that the bugs were responsible for their son’s symptoms, which included rhinites, rhinoconjunctivitis, sneezing, cough, dyspnea, wheezing, dermatitis and asthma episodes. All of the boy’s symptoms ceased entirely after the bugs were eradicated from his home.

Do you think that carpet beetles, or other insect-allergens, like roaches, may be contributing to your allergy symptoms?