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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Capet beetle or something else too?

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3 bugs
3 bugs  
Hi Eric,

I've found about 10-15 of these little bugs that I seems to look like carpet beetles around my bed and seems to be by my brother's bed also. Can you please confirm? The furry one on the left and bottom bug of my picture seems like a larvae of one but the one right above the bottom almost seems like a different bug?

I do have what looks like bites over the past few months on my arm, back, feet. The past couple days I got one bit on top of my foot and last night I had 5 little "bites" or something in a row on the top of my foot also within a 4 inch length and seems to be close to veins on my foot. After doing some research it looks as though carpet beetles do not bite so which make me wonder what else might be on my bed that's giving me bites!

I have kids so I want to be cautious on treating any infestation around the house. Any suggestions? Please help!

Answer
Hi,Lily:

All the insects in your image do indeed look like larvae of carpet beetles (family Dermestidae, genus Anthrenus in this case).

Not sure about the "bites," if that is what they are.  The bristly setae ("hairs") on carpet beetle larvae *can* cause allergic inflammation of the skin in some people, so perhaps that is what is going on?  Otherwise, I'd check my mattress, headboard, etc thoroughly to make sure I don't have bed bugs, too.  Lastly, many lesions that *look* like bites may be something else entirely.  One of the conditions most often misdiagnosed as insect bites are ingrown hairs.  Seriously!  So, you can't assume anything.  Even the medical community is usually mystified by such things.  You just don't want a secondary infection, mostly.  Most "bites" will heal themselves.

Carpet beetles are very prolific on very little food, but they eat only dried animal matter.  This includes dry pet food, wool blankets and garments, cured meats, taxidermy mounts, furs, and the accumulated shed hair and skin flakes (read "dust") of people and pets.

Store vulnerable foodstuffs in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids (pet food, too).  Store woolens, furs, silks in a cedar chest.  Forget mothballs (naphthelene, totally ineffective) and moth crystals (paradichlorobenzene, potentially carcinogenic).

Hope this helps.  Vacuuming regularly helps keep dust and shed hair to a minimum, too, but even the cleanest homes usually have sporadic outbursts of carpet beetles.

Take care, good luck.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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