A reader wrote us a fairly frantic message via the All About Worms Facebook page recently about what appears to be carpet beetle larvae, easily the most common creature we write about. The reader was “begging” (her word) us for help, and stressed her discomfort with three exclamation points. The carpet beetle larvae, if this is in fact what they are, are on a sock, and there appear to be at least seven or eight of them, so we can understand the reader’s concern. The reader only asked about identification, which we’ve technically already covered, but we’ll explore our suggestion in greater depth below.
The reader sent in several photos of the creatures she found, but here is a nice clear image of the larvae that gives us all we could really hope to see in a photo:
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Apart from mentioning the simple fact that what our reader found looks like carpet beetle larvae, we don’t have too much to say by way of explanation for our proposed identification. We’ve seen a lot of different pictures of carpet beetle larvae, and the creatures above just look like them. However, we can also add that carpet beetle larvae feed on various types of household fabrics – they are found in places like towel closets or digging into carpet under furniture – so on a sock is not a particularly strange place to find them, especially if it is made out of wool, for which the larvae seem to have a particular penchant. (They don’t eat synthetic fabrics.) Thus, we think there is a good chance our reader did in fact find carpet beetle larvae.
Although we understand our reader’s concern, finding a few carpet beetle larvae isn’t necessarily cause for concern. For one, they are quite common, so if nothing else a lot of people deal with them. Also, they don’t bite, although their hairs can cause skin irritation, so they are worth getting rid of. We have written about how to get rid of carpet beetle larvae before, so we won’t repeat all those points here again, but potentially our reader has some cleaning and laundry to do. One annoying thing about carpet beetle larvae is that they’ll go after stacks of clothing or bedding (or whatever other material) simply because the stack is unused. So, a well-arranged and clean linen closet could get carpet beetle larvae just as a stack of unwashed clothes sitting in the corner of a room for months could get carpet beetle larvae.
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We hope we were able to help our reader a little bit and wish her the best of luck in handling the larvae she found.