You are here:

Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Carpet beetle larve? Now what

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Hi,
  About a month ago I found a couple little fury worms in my hallway (hardwood floor) I did a little research and they looked like carpet beetle larve. About a week went by till I saw another on my coffee table on a different floor, then again nothing for a few weeks. Monday I found one on my kitchen floor so I scooped him up and put him in a Baggie for my exterminator to look at. He just came by and confirmed it's a carpet beetle but said since I've only seen a few he doesn't want to spray inside. I don't want to spray either if it's not needed but I'm afraid these little guys are infesting the house. I have looked everywhere to see if I can find where they're coming from or even any damage from them...nothing. I've checked all the closets, blankets, drawers, furniture, rugs etc. it's also worth noting I'm a clean freak, I vacuum every single day. Where do I go from here? Is it possible to just have a few larve without an infestation? I've also never seen a beetle.

ANSWER: Kristin:

I don't know what to tell you, given what *you* have told *me.*  Generally, there has to be *some* food available for the larvae to feed on.  When you see them out in the open, it means they are either looking for additional food, or, more likely, looking for a place to pupate (the stage between larva and adult beetle).

You might try contacting entomologists at UMass (Amherst) and seeing what they have to say.  Tell them I referred you, as I worked on that campus back in 2009.

I wouldn't worry too much if you are not seeing damage or experiencing any allergy symptoms (the larvae sometimes cause skin allergies).  Did you check the dry pet food for signs of infestation?  Basically any dry, animal-based product is potential food, including the shed hair and skin flakes of people and pets.

Eric

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

QUESTION: I don't have any pets but I did check our pantry and didn't see anything. Is it possible to bring a few home from stores or maybe my son from daycare?  Or is there ab infestation somewhere I have yet to find?

ANSWER: Kristin:

I strongly suspect the larvae originated in your home.  They do not travel well except in infested products.

This is the most I can do for you, but please understand even the cleanest of homes have, or will have, carpet beetles at some point.

Eric

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

QUESTION: Thank you Eric, one final question then. If most if not all houses have them do they just die out eventually through vacuuming, cleaning etc? Everything I have read online makes it seem like if you have them they're only going to get worse and worse.

Thank you in advance for all of your advice, I appreciate getting sound advice as a lot of sites, particularly pest control sites seem to try to scare you as best they can.

Answer
Kristin:

You are exactly right:  commercial pest control websites exaggerate the threat from most insect pests.  Here's my standard answer about carpet beetles:

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.

and

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.

This is absolutely all I can offer without inspecting your home myself.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


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.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.