Brown Worms Under Furniture

carpet beetle larva
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We received a question a while ago from a reader about brown worms that turn into beetles. She is finding the brown worms all over her home, particularly in dark places (like under furniture), and she is concerned because she has three children. We are basically certain our reader found carpet beetle larvae, which means the brown worms under her furniture are not in fact worms, but rather a type of insect larvae. First we will explain why we believe the brown “worms” are carpet beetle larvae, and then we will move on to the more pressing question of how to get rid of carpet beetle larvae.

Of the hundreds of questions we receive, the vast majority are difficult to answer with any sort of certainty. Readers don’t always know what information to include with their questions, and we only receive pictures to accompanying queries a fraction of the time. However, every so often we receive a question that we are all but certain we know the answer to, and this is one of those instances. It is very likely our reader found carpet beetle larvae. What inspires this confidence?

Essentially, everything our reader wrote to us suggests she is finding carpet beetle larvae, and nothing she wrote contradicts this hypothesis. First, the reader explicitly says the “worms” are turning into beetles, and this is of course exactly what carpet beetle larvae do. In undergoing this process of maturation, molted larvae skin is left behind, which the reader noted she had found, and this is one of the best ways to confirm that you are dealing with carpet beetle larvae. Second, the reader wrote that the larvae “favour dark places” (evidently, she is from the U.K., or just favours British spelling), and as examples she cited the spaces underneath couches and wardrobes, classic places to find carpet beetle larvae. People often don’t even know they have carpet beetle larvae because they stay out of view. Finally, carpet beetle larvae are brown, as are the “worms” our reader found. So, our reader is pretty clearly dealing with carpet beetle larvae, or else she is dealing with some mysterious species of larvae that mimics carpet beetle larvae in every way.

Because our reader has three young children around the house, she expressed an intense desire to get rid of the creatures she is finding. This is perfectly wise and understandable, but we should note that in general carpet beetle larvae don’t present much danger to humans. So, it is not as if our reader’s house is overrun with poisonous insects. However, some peoples’ skin is sensitive to carpet beetle larvae hairs, and they can also damage various fabrics around the house, so it is certainly wise to get rid of them. At the end of the day, you are trying to stop one generation of carpet beetles from producing another, so the goal is to remove any trace of the creatures.

For a carpet beetle larvae problem, this is best accomplished by thorough and frequent vacuuming, especially of carpets, which the larvae will feed on (among other things). Care should be taken to vacuum the dark regions of house – in our reader’s case, under her couches and wardrobes – where carpet beetle larvae may gather. Piles of clothes (clean or dirty) should also not be left unmoved for long periods of time, as the larvae will feed of them. It is best to keep clothes in use – don’t wear only half of your wardrobe and leave the rest untouched for months at a time. Finally, carpet beetles frequently lay eggs in bird and other insect nests, so our reader should stay on the lookout for these. They must be removed from your home regularly.

While we can’t be absolutely certain our reader found carpet beetle larvae, all signs point to this conclusion. And since this is the case, our reader should act on the cleaning advice we have given above. Obviously, we can’t guarantee this will take care of the problem, but they are necessary steps to take. We hope our reader can get her carpet beetle larvae problem under control as soon as possible.


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