Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Striped insect

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Question
Mystery bug in bed
Mystery bug in bed  
I live in the Northern Kentucky area.

I found this insect this morning sitting on my bed sheet after I pulled back the comforter.  It was not crawling or trying to get away -- just sitting.  I first noticed its skinny appearance and the stripes.

Since I just got back from vacation two days ago, my first instinct was to be afraid of some stage of bed bug (although I don't believe bed bugs are so uniform in width all the way down?  Not sure.)

The attached photo makes the insect look much larger than it was, as I zoomed in order to try to make identification.  It was only about 1/4 inch in length - rather small.

Thanks so much.

Answer
Dear Laura  - This is a larva of a beetle in the family Dermestidae, likely either an Anthrenus or Attagenus sp.  These insects will feed on an enormously wide variety of organic materials, mostly of animal origin, including accumulations of dead insects in out-of-the-way places. It is this factor alone that makes locating and eliminating all food sources so difficult - see http://tinyurl.com/pvgfq3 for a fact sheet that includes control recommendations. The adult beetles themselves are harmless pollen feeders; they can fly quite well, which is one of the ways they gain entry into homes. They also may be on fresh flowers brought into homes.

Hope this helps,
Saugy

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
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.

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

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