A reader in Toronto, Ontario found this worm-like critter on his mattress after taking his sheets off to wash. The creature in question is brown and beige-striped with a darker-colored, brown head, and our reader states he would appreciate any help with this matter.
To get right into it, we want to thank our reader for the excellent photograph he sent in, which immediately tells us that he found a carpet beetle larva. Oh, how we have written about the carpet beetle larva countless times; it seems to be the classic pest of North America, let alone the entire world. The carpet beetle is incredibly common, and is likewise incredibly annoying to deal with when they infest one’s home (though we are not implying that our reader is necessarily dealing with an infestation). Although the adult carpet beetle can feed on certain things around the home, such as grains and cereals, it is the larva that one needs to be worried about as it is their destructive eating habits which gives the carpet beetle its name.
Carpet beetle larvae feed on pretty much any animal-based textile you can think of, whether it’s clothing, upholstered furniture, or carpets! They can be difficult to spot as they try to find an area that is sheltered so that they can feed in peace without being spotted, hence why our reader only found this little guy after stripping his mattress. If our reader wants to know if he is experiencing an infestation, he should look in places where an infestation would be evidenced. To do this, he should look in dark, cramped spaces where a larva could feed in peace, such as between the folds of clothing, underneath mattress covers, behind or underneath upholstered furniture, or in closets full of unused garments. They have even been known to eat feathers, and can be found in bird nests in attics. In fact, the attic is always a good place to check for any source of bug infestation as that tends to be the room most neglected in a household. Of course, not everyone has an attic, so this may or may not apply to our reader.
For the one carpet beetle larva our reader found, we suggest simply taking it outside. Taking preventative measures such as sealing cracks in walling, flooring and window screens can ensure that it does not wander back in, nor that any more carpet beetles wander into our reader’s home. In addition to this, vacuum-sealing unused materials, or simply getting rid of them, will help prevent future carpet beetle infestations. Now, if our reader discovers more of these and thinks he is experiencing an infestation, then it is going to take more than moving the critters outside.
The key thing to do to eradicate a carpet beetle infestation is vigorous, frequent cleaning. This means vacuuming the entire household (especially the room in which the source is located), and steam-cleaning where vacuuming is not possible, as this will suck up any eggs that are invisible to the naked eye. It will potentially get rid of larvae and adult beetles too. It also means laundering any material that is even partially animal-based at the highest temperatures it can stand. Luckily for our reader, this larva is not that of the black carpet beetle, because in that case, he would need to launder all textiles, as the black carpet beetle larva does not care if it eats organic or synthetic materials. Repeating these cleaning habits multiple times a week for one-to-two weeks should suffice in getting rid of the infestation. Then, we suggest taking the aforementioned preventative measures as well.
In conclusion, the creature our reader found on his mattress is a carpet beetle larva. These critters are not harmful to humans or pets, but are harmful to one’s home and its material goods. We hope that our reader got lucky and will have only found the one larva, and that he is not experiencing an infestation. But, in the case that he is, we are sure that if he follows the methods listed above, he will be rid of these pests in no time.
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