We recently received this message from one of our readers, “I had a problem with bed bugs and so had the house heat treated a few months ago. Now I am constantly checking for bed bugs, and I noticed these small bugs crawling around the baseboards. They vary slightly in length, but they are all pretty small.” He sent us two photographs, one from far away and one from close-up:
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These creatures are so tiny that in this photo they just look like little brown specs! Since our reader has already dealt with bed bugs, we think he would have recognized them if that is what he discovered. Let’s take a look at the close-up photograph to see if we can identify these specimens:
The creature has a brown segmented body with one white end. It looks rather rough to the touch. We think this organism is a probably a carpet beetle larva. Carpet beetle larvae often look like they have brown and white stripes, like the creature in the photo, and they are covered in tiny bristle-like hairs, which likely explains the coarse appearance. Looks aside, carpet beetle larvae and beg bugs both inhabit beds, so it makes sense that our reader would notice these near his bed.
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Carpet beetle larvae have a wide range of potential food sources, but since our reader has found these near his bed, we think an item of his bedding could be the main source. Normally we would encourage him to investigate all of his bedding, including his mattress, looking for signs of carpet beetle larvae in order to figure out which item is the food source. However, it sounds like he might already be scouring his bedding since he is on high alert for bed bugs. If he has only noticed these larvae near his baseboard, they could also be feeding on his carpet. If this is the case, he will need to have his carpet removed if possible and professionally cleaned to eliminate any larvae and eggs and to stop them from spreading to other areas of his home. He can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth in his carpet, which is a powder that will kill carpet beetle larvae but is harmless if humans/mammals are exposed to it. Other than finding and removing/cleaning the main food source, getting rid of carpet beetle larvae depends on cleaning. Our reader should embark on a 2-4 week cleaning regime that includes vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing, and doing laundry every day. Cleaning is the only way to stop the spread of carpet beetle larvae and to prevent them from coming back!
To wrap up, we think the small brown organisms our reader noticed near his bed are carpet beetle larvae, not bed bugs. The trick to getting rid of carpet beetle larvae is to clean, clean, clean!