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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/pray this isn't a bedbug...

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Hi there,

Woke up this morning at 8 in Chicago and saw a flat, oval-shaped bug that looked dark/black crawling on the ledge beneath the window. What made me notice it was the fact that a ton of ants crawled in from the window and I didn't notice a crack or anything, and I don't keep food around there.

The bug fell on the ground and when I found it, I took a photo.

I've looked online and I PRAY I don't have bedbugs but this one looked more black and like there is a line down the middle of its back.

Thanks for your help!

Answer
Bonnie:

No, it is not a bed bug.  You would not see a bed bug out and about during the day.  I do recommend inspecting the seams of your mattress, under the buttons, etc to make sure you *don't* have bed bugs, especially if you live in a multi-family dwelling....

This insect is in all likelihood a carpet beetle.  Easily 75% of the questions I get are related to carpet beetles and their larvae, so I am going to paste in my standard responses:

Your bug is the larva of a carpet beetle (family Dermestidae, genus Anthrenus ).  Here is more information:

http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/dermestids08.pdf

and

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/3104/3104-1588/3104-1588.html

and

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05549.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7436.html

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.

and....

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, metal, or durable plastic 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:

http://www.whatsthatbug.com

http://www.bugguide.net

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.

Even the cleanest of homes will have carpet beetles at one point or another, so no reason to panic or feel guilty, ok?

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
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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