The three species of carpet beetles range in size from 1/10 inch to 3/15 inch, varying in color from mottled brown to solid black, depending upon species. Carpet beetle larvae are larger than the adults.

Varied carpet beetles are the smallest of the three species. Adults are small, round and mottled in shades of brown, white, black and yellow, sometimes becoming solid brown or black with age. Adult females seek out wool rugs, furs, leather book bindings, feathers or dried plants to deposit eggs. Outside, eggs are deposited in spider webs and birds' nests. The banded larvae are wider at the posterior end and are covered with furry tufts.

Furniture carpet beetle adults are slightly larger than the varied carpet beetle with a similar shape and color. Older adults are often solid black. The larvae are white upon hatching but become browner with age. These larvae are tufted like varied carpet beetle larvae but are wider near the head. Feeding and egg-laying habits are similar to the varied carpet beetle.

Black carpet beetle adults are the largest of the three species. They possess an elongated body and are a solid, shiny black in color. The larvae are reddish, shiny and smooth, tapering towards the posterior end into a long tuft of white hairs.