“Can the carpet worm bite a human?” asks Martha in her submission. “I was bitten in several parts of my legs two days ago, so I looked and found the larva. The bites look like so.” First off, we want to note that, going forward, we are going to assume that Martha is referring to the carpet beetle larva, which is commonly referred to as a carpet worm. Carpet beetle larvae do resemble worms, but are technically insects. Secondly, we will not be able to confirm what these are, as Martha did not send in any photos of the larva. Lastly, to answer her question, carpet beetle larvae cannot bite. With that said, they can cause rashes.
Carpet beetle larvae, as their name suggests, like to munch on people’s carpets. Unfortunately, their diet is not just restricted to carpets. They like to eat the organic fibers present in all kinds of textile materials, such as those in clothing, upholstery, bed linens, and towels. For that reason, they can typically be found all over the home when an infestation of them spreads. We are not saying that Martha is necessarily experiencing an infestation of carpet beetles, nor are we saying that what she found was a carpet beetle larva to begin with. Since she insists that it bit her, we would venture to say it is more likely that the larva she found is not a carpet beetle larva. But we do want to note that carpet beetle larvae have bristles on their body that secrete a fluid that can cause allergic reactions, such as rashes. And when they roam around the house munching on different fabrics, they sometimes leave these bristles behind on the items, thereby causing allergic reactions even when they are not present.
Given that Martha says she was specifically bitten, we advise that she consult a medical professional about this. Even if we had received photos from her of the larvae, we would not be able to provide an identification, as any case in which an organism might be negatively affecting someone’s health is a medical situation. Since we are not medical professionals, we are neither qualified nor legally able to deal with such situations. We recommend consulting a medical parasitologist, because, unlike primary care doctors, they are specifically trained to diagnose and treat issues caused by organisms. To find a medical parasitologist or other health care provider who can actually help, Martha can do one or more of the following:
– Visit our parasite care resources page here: https://www.allaboutworms.com/get-medical-attention-and-tests-for-parasites
– Search for a medical parasitologist in her area using this directory of medical parasitology consultants: https://www.astmh.org/for-astmh-members/clinical-consultants-directory.
– Search for a local parasitologist by doing a Google search for “medical parasitologist (name of the closest big city)” or “tropical medicine specialist (name of the closest big city)”.
In conclusion, carpet beetle larvae cannot bite people, though they can cause rashes. We suggest that Martha consult a medical parasitologist about the bites she has experienced. It would also be helpful for the physician if she brought photos of the organisms biting her, if not the organisms themselves (though be careful when handling them – avoid physical contact). We hope this helps, and we wish Martha the very best!
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