Entomology (Study of Bugs)/What is this?


I am a college student living away at school and as a result am only home at my parents house in Bensalem, Pennsylvania a few times a year.  My bedroom is on the second floor of the house and contains one window, next to which is my bed.  About a year ago I started noticing a few small insects on my window sill. I figured they were getting in through my window somehow; my father sealed my window extra tight after that. After I went back to school my parents would check out the situation and make sure these mystery insects did not return. They were gone for a while but eventually they found a way in again. So my father, once again, sealed my window and I was sure these small insects wouldn't return. But, they're back. I do not see them everyday and I've never seen more than 4 or 5 at a time. I haven't noticed a pattern with their appearance and the weather. They're very small and I've only ever see them crawl very slow. I was hoping you would be able to identify them so that I can figure out how to get rid of them. Thank you for any help or advice you can give.

Hi, Shannon:

Thank you for including the image with your question.  I wouldn't mind getting a copy of it if that is alright with you.  I need to do a blog entry about these insects but I don't have many images....

Here is my usual on this one (carpet beetles):

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.

The larvae are the real problem, as they feed on all manner of dried products of animal origin, and it takes very little to sustain them.  A mere fingernail clipping could practically see one through its entire life cycle.  The adult beetles don't do much of anything, though some are helpful pollinators of early spring flowers.

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


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.