“I have found these black, shiny worms […] weaving in and out of my couch under the cushions in the creases” says this reader about an unphotographed critter that has been causing her trouble. She asks if we can help identify them for her.
Our reader states that the worms are “almost microscopic” but that they have been eating the fabric on her couch. “Another odd thing” our reader mentions is that the same creatures seem to be “putting […] holes” in her clothes. To us, these sound like black carpet beetle larvae. Other than the description of them being “almost microscopic”, which we assume to be an exaggeration, our reader’s description of the organisms’ appearance and location of discovery fits the bill of a black carpet beetle larva. Carpet beetle larvae are very common household pests. They eat animal- and organic-based materials (cotton, wool, feathers, leather, and fur, for example) and can be very destructive as infestations of them can go unnoticed for a long period of time. This is because they tend to hide in small, dark spaces where they can feed in peace without the fear of being discovered. This is assuming that carpet beetle larvae can feel fear; it is probably instinct more than anything!
When it comes to the black carpet beetle larva, it is just like any other species of carpet beetle larva but with one major difference, they also eat synthetic materials. This is not to mention that they have a black coloration, rather than a brown one. Now, it seems like our reader may be experiencing a black carpet beetle larvae infestation. The first step to treating an infestation of any kind is locating the source, which our reader already seems to have done: the couch. Alternatively, it could also be the clothes that they are feeding on. The second step is cleaning any infested areas. This includes laundering clothing, cushion covers and other textiles at the highest temperatures they can muster, and vacuuming in and around the couch. The third step is cleaning out any other potentially infested areas, including any textiles that black carpet beetle larvae might want to feed on. It must be remembered that black carpet beetles will also eat synthetic materials, so this includes nylon, polyester, vinyl, and more. Methods our reader can use to clean out areas and eliminate carpet beetle larvae numbers include vacuuming, laundering, steam-cleaning, and freezing items; it all depends on what the given item can withstand and what is best for the fabric/material. The fourth step is repeating the second and third step many times over a period of two-to-three weeks in order to ensure that any missed eggs or larvae are eliminated and the infestation does not resurface.
Lastly, our reader might also want to consider implementing preventative measures in order to help her chances of not getting infested again. Such measures may include sealing cracks in walling and flooring, replacing torn window screens, vacuum-sealing unused textile items and occasionally checking for roaming larvae under, inside and between items that could potentially house carpet beetle larvae. Our reader will want to implement this last measure more consistently after she is done treating her home for the infestation to make sure that there are not any larvae she missed.
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In conclusion, although our reader did not send in any photos, we have identified the “black, shiny worms” that have been “weaving in and out” of her couch and feeding on her clothes as black carpet beetle larvae. Carpet beetle larvae are already a nuisance to deal with, but black carpet beetle larvae are all that much worse, so we really hope that the methods listed above aid our reader in battling this infestation and that she is rid of these critters as soon as possible!