Entomology (Study of Bugs)/bugged!


My daughter was being bitten at night.  I thought it was mosquitoes for a time. No one else in the house was being bitten. My mother suggested it might be bed bugs. I have stripped her bed and did find two of these beetle looking bugs on the side of her mattress. I researched bed bugs and they donít appear to be bed bugs but, I have not been able to find any bug that looks similar. Please help! Iím totally bugged!
We live in Atlanta GA, USA.

ANSWER: Dear Beth - These are larvae of carpet beetles (Coleoptera: Dermestidae) in the genus Anthrenus; they would not be responsible for the bites your daughter has experienced. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to determine the cause of 'mystery bites' unless one can actually capture/see the culprit(s) in the act of biting. Not only do most arthropod bites have pretty much similar appearances, there are several other causes of skin lesions/eruptions that can be mistaken for bite signs.

Hope this helps,

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another one
another one  
QUESTION: Thank You! That is good news as I was sure we were bed bugged!
As I am super scrubbing and cleaning her room I found one more bug/worm. I have attached the image. I'm just wondering what it might be.
Are there any natural predators that might go after the carpet beetles that might bite humans?
Also, would carpet beetles bite dogs or animals?

Dear Beth - Unfortunately, I cannot see enough detail in your latest image to tell what it might be; it doesn't look like anything alive, and could be a fragment of a dead insect or even millipede. At any rate, it does not appear to be anything to worry about. Also, the only creatures that parasitize carpet beetles are tiny wasps and flies in the family Tachinidae; neither would attack humans in any way. Also, there are no predators of any kind that I know of that specialize in carpet beetles, but anything with biting mouthparts theoretically might be able to bite people - I have been nibbled by lady beetles and lacewing larvae among other things!

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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