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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Little black bugs in car

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QUESTION: Last summer, I noticed that my car was infested with these tiny black bugs. The car hadn't been driven in almost a year so I assumed it was caused from sitting for so long. I cleaned the car thoroughly and by winter it looked as though they were gone, but over the past few weeks I've noticed a lot of the same bugs again and have also noticed a lot of whitish looking larvae in the trunk. My car is clean from what I can tell unless something has gotten under the back seat, but there is no way to remove it. Can you help tell me what I'm dealing with & how to get rid of them?? I do have small children so am also concerned about what these bugs can do to them. Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide.

ANSWER: Jenny,

These are carpet beetles, see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/carpet_beetle.html for pictures. There are several different species so your beetles may look a little different. The larvae feed on a wide variety foods so my guess is there's spilled food under the seats that has become infested. This is pretty common and no reason for concern. If you can clean under the seats that would solve the problem otherwise just continue to clean the areas you can reach. The beetles are harmless.

Jack DeAngelis


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

QUESTION: I had researched this a lot prior to posting my original question & thought I remember reading that this type of bug will feed on the fabric & carpet in my car. We live in Indiana if that will help in determining the species of beetle. Will they do any damage to the car if I'm unable to find the source? And how possible is it to spread this problem into my home? Thanks again.

Answer
They will only feed on natural fabrics like wool and silk, modern fabrics are mostly synthetics. These beetles do occur in homes but again as pests of stored foods, not fabrics, unless you have a lot of natural fabrics  such as wool carpets, animal skins and so forth.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

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see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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