Segmented, brown larva-like creatures were found on the couch cushions of this reader’s couch, pictured below. Her story is as follows: “We went in to tidy up a guest room ahead of some relatives visiting. There is a couch in the guest room – it’s only a few years old (we had purchased it new) and is rarely used (maybe a handful of times a year), except as a napping spot for our cats. We noticed some small larvae on the couch cushions towards the end of our clean up. At first I just started picking these up with a tissue, but became concerned, so I emptied our handheld vacuum that we had just used to vacuum the couch onto a white trash bag to see if I could see any others. I’ve included photos below, but am having trouble identifying what they might be as they are varied in size and color. Any insight would be appreciated! There were quite a number of them. Thank you!”
To start off, we want to thank our reader for the numerous excellent photos, the best one of which we included below. Great photos always help us identify the organisms we are asked about. Likewise, the amount of context she provided is just excellent, and is always a great help. Based on what our reader provided, we have identified these creatures as carpet beetle larvae, which is unfortunately not the best news for our reader. They are not harmful to humans or cats (other than a rash that an allergic reaction can cause), but they do feed on textile items like couch cushions, and when their numbers grow significantly, they can cause a lot of damage to one’s upholstery, carpets, bedsheets, clothing, and more. And given that this reader found ones of various sizes, we would assume that this infestation has been going on for some time, and these are larvae from multiple generations. That said, it is possible they are different sizes because the larvae have consumed different amounts and grown at different rates, but our advice is that our reader treat this as an infestation so that she can be sure she eliminates it and prevents future infestations.
Carpet beetle larvae feed on the organic fibers in the textiles they munch on, so any items containing such fibers (cotton, wool, silk, feathers, leather) or that have such fibers on them (human hair or cat fur) are at risk of infestation. Of course, when one has a cat, that could be anywhere in the home. Our reader should first search the rest of her home for more larvae: identify any more spots where there are larvae or beetles present (and eggs, though they are hard to spot with the naked eye), as well as identify any spots where there are not any larvae. She should then do a deep clean of her home, making sure to vacuum every corner of her home, and laundering the relevant textiles in any of the rooms where she finds more larvae. If she has access to a steam-cleaner, then steam-cleaning carpets and rugs will also help eradicate any eggs and larvae present on them.
Now, it is hard to prevent carpet beetle infestations when it comes to one’s upholstery. Unlike clothing and sheets, which can be stored in air-tight containers, this is obviously not the case for a couch. That said, there are some other ways to prevent them from coming into one’s home in the first place. Sealing cracks in walls and floors, and making sure that one’s window screens are intact, can really help prevent all kinds of bugs from entering one’s home, and it is possible this is how these carpet beetles entered our reader’s home in the first place.
In conclusion, the larvae our reader found on her couch cushions are carpet beetle larvae. Infestations of these creatures can do a lot of damage to one’s textile items, and they can be tricky to get rid of as well: our reader may have to vacuum and clean her home multiple times before the infestation is completely eradicated. We hope this helps and we wish our reader, as well as her cat and guests, the very best!
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