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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Help Identify Mystery Bug


Tiny bug with haris
Tiny bug with haris  
QUESTION: When sorting my dirty laundry that had been sitting in my dirty laundry basket (on the carpet), I found two tiny bugs with hair.  These bugs were so small it was hard to capture a clear picture.  They crawled and did not jump or fly.  Please help me identify these mystery bugs.

ANSWER: Suzann:

Your bug is the larva of a carpet beetle (family Dermestidae, genus Anthrenus ).  Here is more information:



Yours would be the "Varied Carpet Beetle," Anthrenus verbaci , or a closely-related species.

One of these days I will put together my own fact sheet....Keeping your home clean of accumulating shed hair and skin flakes from people and pets always helps.  Storing dry food (including dry pet food) in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids is essential.  Put woolens and furs in a cedar chest.

Do NOT use chemical controls.  Mothballs (naphthelene) are ineffective and moth crystals (paradicholorobenzene) are potentially carcinogenic.

Hope the above links and information help.  Simply discard any infested items.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Eric.  Based on pictures I had researched, that was my suspicion.  I read the sites you shared.  Do you know if finding two is something to be extremely worried about?  The rest of the laundry was washed and dried immediately.


I dare say just about every home and apartment has had at least a few carpet beetles at one time or another, and will have them again eventually.  It takes shockingly little food to sustain them as larvae.  Just follow the storage protocols and you'll have limited damage, if any.  My theory is that accumulated pet hair and dust (dust is mostly shed skin flakes from people and pets) is the main source of most carpet beetle infestations, followed by poorly-stored dry pet food and woolens.

So no, finding just a couple is not necessarily cause for concern.  Just properly store stuff, and immediately discard any item you find that is infested.

Take care.


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Eric R. Eaton


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.


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.

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.

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

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 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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