Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery bugs in beg


what are these?
what are these?  
Hi Ed,

I found about six of these tiny bugs in my bed last night, and am very concerned about them-- sorry for the blurry photo, but can you help me ID these and advise me on how to remove them from my NYC apartment? There are probably more of them in the bed but I'm not sure if it's an "infestation" or just a casual friendly visit...

I haven't found them anywhere besides in the bedsheets. Do I need to hire an exterminator and/or throw out the bedsheets, or will washing the sheets fix the problem? I really want to get rid of them ASAP as I'm a bit terrified of bugs :(

Thank you in advance. Really appreciate your help.

Dear Dax - These are larvae of a beetle in the family Dermestidae (carpet/hide/skin beetles and relatives); likely in the genus Anthrenus. They will feed on a  very wide variety of organic materials, including woolen/silk fabrics, taxidermy mounts, fur, feathers, dead insects, etc. They also occasionally become pantry pests when they infest dry stored food products such as cereals, pasta, dry pet food, etc. Damage to clothing usually occurs only during extended storage, so it pays to inspect storage areas periodically. These usually are not serious pests, so calling in an exterminator very seldom is necessary. Usually, routine vacuuming, periodic cleaning of food storage areas (and keeping dry food products in insect-proof containers), and occasional inspection of clothing/fabrics in long-term storage should suffice. Finally, be on the lookout for the adult beetles; they resemble very small lady beetles (see http://tinyurl.com/okejhm2 for an example), and often can be found on window sills as they are attracted by the light in their attempts to get outside. If you see these, you will know that their larvae likely are still present somewhere.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


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.


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.

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

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.

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

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