Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Carpet beetles


QUESTION: I have been seeing bugs around my house for the past few weeks which slightly creeped me out but seeing as it was only in my aunt's room and was probably because we had a broken washing machine for a while I didn't think much of it. In the past few days I've seen a few around my room. I did a bit of a search around the internet and they look and behave like carpet beetles. I don't usually have any dirty clothes in my room for them to be attracted to but have in the past few days. I also found one in my hair just now. Likely because the pillowcase I was using had sodium bicarbonate on it which I would qualify as dirty. I put all of the clothes in the dirty clothes basket in my aunt's room and changed my pillowcase, would that be enough to get it out of my room? Also if I see one on my onesie for example while I was wearing it (as has happened before while sitting on my aunt's bed), what should I do. I've heard of people straight up throwing the item of clothing away. I simply put it in the dirty clothes basket and had a shower. Also do they lay eggs or something? That last is a bit random but I get anxiety and it was in my hair so I'm a bit freaked out.

ANSWER: Hi, Abby:

You don't have to apologize for anything.  Everyone has, has had, or *will* have carpet beetles at one point or another, and it has nothing to do with "dirty" households.  Carpet beetle larvae feed on dried products of animal origin, including but not limited to:  wool blankets and garments, furs, silks, dry pet food, cured meats, taxidermy mounts, insect collections, and the shed hair and skin flakes from pets and people. It takes very little to sustain a population of carpet beetles.

We may be getting ahead of ourselves, though.  Since I haven't seen the insects you are asking about, I cannot be sure they *are* carpet beetles.  Here are a couple blog posts I did about carpet beetles:



There are still other kinds of carpet beetles, but your own "bugs" should at least come very close to the above in appearance as larvae and adults.

So, I would not be overly concerned, carpet beetles literally "come with the territory" of being human.



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

QUESTION: I guess what I did worked as they're not in my room any more. I did confirm after more research that that is what they were though. I was on a research streak after the assignment I had finished so it didn't take me long. The fact that my cat often sleeps on my bed and the dog often sleeps right outside my bedroom door probably didn't help me. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER: You are most welcome, Abby! :-)  Take care, enjoy the coming spring!


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

QUESTION: Btw so I don't sound like a total tramp, yes this is my pride talking, I have no idea how this developed. The machine got fixed and they went away from the other room after everything was washed.  My aunt is OCD so I'm sure you can imagine the amount of cleaning that happens in this house. Every kind of cleaning happens daily. Except washing hair. I tend to do that every 4 days ish. I tried to prevent myself from writing this so I don't look petty but pride is a strangely powerful force.


I think I said it before that pretty much every home has carpet beetles at one point or another, no matter how "clean" we make our abodes.  I do appreciate your aunt's OCD and the feelings of inadequacy that you may feel because of that.  My own mom was quite intolerant of any perceived "mess," emphasis on "perceived."

I want to conclude by saying you are one of the most articulate, intelligent, and honest people who have ever asked me a question, and it has been a joy serving you.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


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.


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.

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.

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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