We received a question today from a reader who found some sort of worm-like bug in his car. The car had recently been used by someone whose house is infested with bed bugs, so at first the reader thought his car had bed bugs, but after doing some research, he concluded this likely isn’t the case. We think he is correct because there is a good chance he is actually finding carpet beetle larvae. We’ve written about carpet beetle larvae more times than we care to remember, but we’ve never heard of them showing up in a car before. So, we have new twist on an old theme – carpet beetle larvae were found, but in a car. What’s the deal with that?
The reader sent us several pictures, but only one of them was reasonably clear, so we’ve only included that image:
The reader didn’t actually ask any question – he only wanted us to “ease his mind” – so we can’t really direct this article toward any particular question. By merely indicating that we think he found carpet beetle larvae, and not bed bugs, we have perhaps already addressed our reader’s concern, but we’ll say a bit more about carpet beetle larvae, and how they might have ended up in a car, to fill things out a bit.
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The term “carpet beetle” is a common name for a number of different types of beetles that people find around their home. These beetles belong to the family Dermestidae, and they tend to have round bodies that are covered with scales or setae (basically, hair). When people write to us, they have normally found the larval form of the beetles, and this appears to be true in the present case as well. It’s always hard to identify an exact species, but based on the picture above, our reader might be dealing with Anthrenus flavipes, or furniture carpet beetle, a relatively common species. The larvae feed on a variety of different non-synthetic materials (especially wool) and other items of animal origin, like hair and feathers, regardless of whether they are loose or part some manufactured good, such as a fur coat or pillow.
Without knowing more about our reader’s situation, it is of course difficult to determine how carpet beetle larvae ended up in his car. We aren’t sure if carpet beetles were attracted to the car (perhaps because of the fabric of the car seats) and decided to make it their home by laying eggs there, which in turn gave rise to the larvae our reader spotted, or if a few errant larvae ended up there incidentally, after being inadvertently relocated to the car from wherever their point of origin might be. Given that the car came into contact with someone whose house is dealing with an infestation, we can’t help but wonder if this infestation is actually the work of carpet beetles, as opposed to bed bugs, since the two are frequently confused. (The skin irritation that carpet beetle larvae hair can cause for certain people looks a lot like bed bug bites.) If so, then it seems pretty certain that the carpet beetle larvae in the car came from the person whose house is infested. Perhaps items from the infested house were transported with the car, and a few larvae managed to linger behind. Of course, we have no idea, but since we’ve never heard of carpet beetles infesting a car, we are inclined to assume that the larvae were placed into the environment by accident, and therefore aren’t “native” to the car.
We could, however, be mistaken about this, and for that matter we aren’t absolutely certain he found carpet beetle larvae. However, the creature in the picture looks like a carpet beetle larva, and while it is unusual to find the larvae in your car, it’s not unthinkable. So, we recommend that our reader look into carpet beetle larvae so that he might confirm this is what he found, and if he is able to do that, he can then read about how to get rid of carpet beetle larvae. Also, he might want to inform the person with the infested house that he might be dealing with carpet beetles, not bed bugs.