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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Bug in bed but not bed bug


Dead mystery bug
Dead mystery bug  

I have found two dead bugs and one shedding of a mysterious bug in our bed withing the last two weeks. It looks more along the lines of a beetle then a bed bug since the shedding isn't see through and the lines are vertical along its back. Also their texture is very crunchy. I found one at the end of the bed where the dog sleeps and the other on the floor behind the bed. The shedding was under the sheets but I wash the sheets regularly and it takes me all day to get them back on. We are in Washington and there is an evergreen 20 ft from the house and the windows are open constantly. Also I just bought an antique wooden headboard from a new/used furniture wearhouse to refinish. The bugs are dead so I'm not sure what their characteristics are.


Thank you for including the images with your question.  Unfortunately, they don't tell me a great deal.  Both are examples of adult beetles, but two different kinds.  The "Dead Mystery Bug" will have to remain just that:  Some kind of beetle I don't recognize.  The "shedding" is a smashed adult carpet beetle.  Here are my standard replies on carpet beetles since roughly 70% of the questions I get have to do with those....

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, metal, or durable plastic 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.


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."  You can find more information on their control at any .edu website that addresses carpet beetles or "stored product pests" in general.

The other beetle may be just a casual visitor that was attracted to a light at night, or hitchhiked on something and is of no consequence.


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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, 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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