“I found this bug in my pantry. I’m not sure what it is?” asks this reader about the little critter photographed below. The bug looks to have a bristly, ovate body and has horizontal stripes of varying shades of brown; it looks exactly like a carpet beetle larva.
Generally speaking, carpet beetle larvae are infamous, but at this point they are particularly notorious at AllAboutWorms. This seems to be one of the most common critters someone can find in their home, and that is likely due to the varied diet of this household pest. The carpet beetle larva is named after its tendency to feed on the fibers of carpets, and people often find them in this location, but the carpet beetle larva is not too picky about what it eats, as long as it is made up of some animal-made or -based material. For example, carpet beetles will also eat clothing (leather jackets, wool-based sweaters, etc), loose strands of hair or fur (they will not feed on the animal directly), feathers, and even pet food. Although our reader has not specified if he has a pet, it is most likely that the carpet beetle larva was found in his pantry because he has pet food there. Alternatively, some species of carpet beetle larvae have even been known to get into cereals, seeds (including bird seed) and other plant-based foods.
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What we recommend that our reader do is check his home for more roaming larvae. Places he can look include around upholstered furniture, closets and wardrobes (anywhere clothing is kept), beds (including pet beds), and of course the pantry. Should he find more larvae and he thinks there might be an infestation, there are steps he can take to both eliminate and control the infestation, as well as prevent future ones. To eliminate and control a carpet beetle infestation, one must vacuum/launder/steam-clean any potentially infected areas/items. This might have to be done several times a week for at least two weeks to ensure all eggs, larvae and beetles are eliminated. If not done properly, a carpet beetle infestation can go on for a long time and the damage they can cause to one’s items is significant. Since these seem to be in our reader’s pantry, we also recommend that he freeze all potentially infested food items (grains, pet food, seeds, etc.) for 48 hours to eradicate any eggs or larvae present. To prevent future infestations, our reader can ensure that he employs a consistent vacuuming routine, that his window screens are of good quality (carpet beetles can fly in!), that there are no cracks in walling and flooring that could be sealed (one can use caulk or some other viable sealing product), that unused garments/textile materials that are even partially animal-based are vacuum sealed (or otherwise stored in a way that prevents insects from getting to the items), and lastly that any susceptible food products are properly stored in airtight containers.
In conclusion, the bug our reader found in his pantry is a carpet beetle larva. We can tell this by its distinct physical features, and the location it was found in which also makes sense, despite it being a less obvious place for a carpet beetle larva to be lurking. Carpet beetle larvae are not dangerous to humans, but they do pose a threat to the goods in one’s home, so we urge our reader to search his home for more of these critters as soon as possible. That way, if there is an infestation, he can get it handled before it spirals out of control, and if there isn’t an infestation, he can ensure that one doesn’t occur. We hope that this article helps our reader but also that he will not have to make use of the methods outlined above!
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