Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery bug/beetle


Mystery Bug
Mystery Bug  
I found this small bug in my apartment. I live in the pacific northwest area. The bug is very small, about half a grain of rice. It was on the floor in the carpet. This is not the first one of these I have seen in my house. It appeared to have wings, yet it could not/did not fly. Is this a carpet beetle? And if so, do I have an infestation/how do I get rid of them? And do they bite or cause any serious damage to the house?

Hi, Amanda:

Yes, this is a carpet beetle, probably a "black carpet beetle," genus Attagenus .

Carpet beetle adults are not really a problem, and in fact help pollinate some kinds of wildflowers.  The larvae, on the other hand, are the insect equivalent of juvenile delinquents.

Carpet beetle larvae feed on all manner of dried animal products, including, but not limited to:  pet food, taxidermy mounts, cured meats, insect collections (like mine, ARG!!), wool blankets and garments, silks, furs, even the accumulated shed hair of pets and people.

All you have to do is find the infested item(s) and discard it (them).  To prevent future infestations, store all vulnerable foodstuffs in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.  Store woolens, furs, and silks in a container inside a cedar chest, as cedar has proven repellent qualities and is not carcinogenic, unlike moth crystals.

Here is more information:







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.

The bristly hairs (setae) on the larvae can sometimes cause allergic skin reactions in people, but otherwise these insects pose little or no threat to our health.


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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.

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

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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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