Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery Bug ID


"Mystery Bug"
"Mystery Bug"  
Hello, Mr. Saugstad. I'm writing from Alexandria, Virginia. I live in an extremely old condo complex right next to woods and the Potomac. As it is old, I'm sure there are many cracks and crevices I'm unaware of that bugs can get in through.
5 days ago while sitting at my desk, which is in front of a window and directly next to my bed, I saw what appeared to just be a bit of black dirt, though I didn't think enough of it to actually get a proper look at it, gathered right in the crevice where the bottom of the window meets the wall. I simply wiped it off with a Clorox wipe and thought nothing more of it. The next day I caught a couple tiny little bugs that looked like a lady bug had mated with a stink bug. I just smushed them and threw them away. But more showed up the next day and I kind of started to panic, as I am terrified of bugs, and tried to figure out what in the world they were on Google. Google says they're carpet bugs. Thing is, I have hardwood floors. Since then I have to have found at least 20 in my room. I've found a couple in other locations that have all been within a 2 foot radius of a window. After remembering it started after the weird under-window dirt thing happened, I went around and checked under all of the windowsills, and sure enough, there appeared to be at least one hiding in the poorly sealed crack.
So, I have attached a picture of one I found on the wall today. I only ever find them on the walls near windows, on my desk in front of a window, and a couple on my bed (which I've refused to sleep in since) near a window.
Is this even a carpet bug? If so, what should I do about them?
I appreciate any advice you're able to give :)

Dear Casey - This indeed appears to be a carpet beetle in the genus Anthrenus, likely a varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci. The larvae of these beetles can subsist on an extremely wide variety of organic materials, including accumulations of dead insects such as may be found in old light fixtures or behind baseboards. Also, they can live a long time without eating anything at all. Once they finish growing, they pupate, and when the adult beetles emerge from the pupal cases, they attempt to find their way outdoors (which is why they so often are found on or near windows), as they primarily are pollen feeders.
  They can be kept to a minor nuisance level by frequent routine vacuuming and general cleaning, but for a more detailed discussion of control, see http://tinyurl.com/yun78p - this is a California publication, but the methods described would apply anywhere.
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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