A reader wrote in after she rearranged her cat’s bowls. She lifted the towel that is kept under the bowls and found “small long brown and white striped caterpillar like bugs.” She thinks they might have legs, but didn’t pick them up to examine them more closely. She wonders what she should do. Here are the mysterious specimens:
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We believe these brown and white striped creatures are carpet beetle larvae. There are three species of carpet beetle larvae that inflict damage to fabrics and are therefore household pests: varied carpet beetle larvae, furniture carpet beetle larvae, and black carpet beetle larvae. Based on the white and brown stripes, we classify the creatures our reader found as furniture carpet beetle larvae.
Carpet beetle larvae prefer dark and secluded places. Adults lay their eggs on larval food sources such as woolen fabrics, carpets, or feather pillows. Eggs then hatch and then feed on the food source. If the food source isn’t sufficient, the larvae will wander until they find a suitable one. They shed skin and leave fecal pellets that look like grains of salt, so you can track where they have been if you look closely. When the larva is ready to pupate, it burrows into its food source or finds somewhere else better suited to mature into a beetle.
Pet fur and dander is a common food source for carpet beetle larvae. The larvae our reader found likely chose to live under the towel because it is full of cat fur and dander that the cat leaves behind when it eats. Our reader should sweep up this area and wash the towel. She should try to minimize the cat fur that is left around her home by sweeping and vacuuming. The key to getting rid of carpet beetle larvae is eliminating their food sources!
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To wrap up, one of our readers found some interesting creatures under her cat’s food bowl. We believe she discovered carpet beetle larvae.