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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Creatures in vacuum cleaner

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Hi Eric, can you help me identify what these are? On a few occasions recently I have spotted approx 5/6 of them in the vacuum cleaner after vacuuming the wooden floor of my son's room. They're approx 1cm long. I haven't noticed them around the room, only actually in the filter after they've been sucked up. My son has eczema so sheds quite a lot of skin. I'm struggling to identify what they are, where they live and how to control them so any advice would be much appreciated. I live in the UK. Many thanks!

Answer
Adamo:

Thanks for including the images.  From what little detail there is, and your description of the circumstances, I believe these are the larvae of carpet beetles, family Dermestidae.  Since about 80% of the questions I get are about these, I offer my standard response:

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.

and....

Your bug is the larva of a carpet beetle (family Dermestidae).  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

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.

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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