Entomology (Study of Bugs)/bug identification


Small little bugs
Small little bugs  
Tail Piece of Big Bug
Tail Piece of Big Bug  
QUESTION: Hello! I have 2 bugs that I would like identified.  A year or 2 ago I found this little yellow bugs (almost larva state).  They were falling out of a crevice in the ceiling tiles in the basement of our home in Wisconsin.  We had a bee problem at the time and by conducting research I thought I had identified the bugs as one that will inhabit the bees/wasp nest in the structure of a home. They were also coming from a crevice in our bedroom (moving like a worm and eventually taking flight). I, however, forgot the name and am not sure if this I even correctly identified the bug.  We got rid of the bee problem and thought we got rid of these bugs for about 6 months. Also we had a small issue with mice, about 5 had died in the ceiling without our knowledge.  I tell you about the other issues because hopefully they were all connected.
Now the bugs are back.  And today I found what look like the tip of a bug's tail that looks like rattle snake tail. It appears to be part of a big bug but it was only a small portion.  I have attached one picture of each and the second image is only one side the other side of the tail is blackish. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

ANSWER: Jessica:

The "small little bugs" are definitely the larvae of carpet beetles, family Dermestidae.  They feed on all manner of dried animal origin, including dead insects (maybe especially so), so they could definitely be consuming dead bees or wasps from the incident you described.

I don't know what the "tail piece" is, or if it even relates to insects at all.

Here's my "usual" on carpet beetles:

Nine times out of ten, the insect that best fits such a generic description, and found indoors, is a carpet beetle in the family Dermestidae (genera Anthrenus, Trogoderma, and Attagenus in particular).  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.

You can find many images of carpet beetles and their larvae online, including:



and also in my book, the "Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America."  Feel free to get back to me if you can conclusively rule out carpet beetles (keeping in mind there are many species and much individual variation in color and pattern), and I'll try again.  You can find more information on their control at any .edu website that addresses carpet beetles or "stored product pests" in general.

More informational links:







Hope that helps!  Sorry you have had the problems you have had with insects and rodents.  May the new year bring resolution to all of those ills.


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

QUESTION: Thank you Eric for the thorough answer it is much appreciated. I was wondering how I go about finding the food source? What if it is something within the walls of our house? I have not seen a mature carpet beetle in over 9 months either.   Again I really appreciate your help. Hoping you have a wonderful 2013 as well!


Well, you can't easily control what is out of reach (in walls, ceilings, crawlspaces), so just concentrate on not making anything in the pantry or closet accessible to carpet beetles; and clean thoroughly, especially if you have hairy pets that shed.

Even the cleanest homes are going to have carpet beetles at one time or another, though.  They are that insidious and it takes so little to feed them.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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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 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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