We have received a query from a reader who is curious about the small larvae that she has found in her dog’s bed. She does not think that these critters come from her dog because the dog had not been in the bed for quite some time when she found them. Below are two pictures, one taken with a flash and one without.
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Our reader is correct that these little critters are not coming from her dog, though they are there because of her dog. Frequent readers will know that we will identify these as beetle larvae. Given that she found these guys in her dog’s bed, we believe that she has encountered members of the order Dermestes, also known as “skin beetles” or, more commonly, “carpet beetles.”
Why are we so sure of this? The hint is in the name “skin beetle.” These beetles received this moniker because they like to eat dead skin. In the case of the common varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), they feast on the sloughed-off skin of humans and our pets.
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We always suggest removing the larvae’s food source to persuade them to live elsewhere. In this case, we recommend that our reader wash her dog’s bed in hot water and clean the area around it thoroughly. If she feeds her dog dry food, it’s a good idea to keep it in an airtight container. More generally, she can be diligent about sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting. If the beetle larva can’t find food, then they won’t want to live there anymore. Meanwhile, these are not dangerous. To remove any larvae that she may find she should just pick them up and place them outside.
We want to take a moment to note that, though we write often about how to get rid of carpet beetles and their larvae, humans do benefit greatly from their presence. Imagine how horrible our world would be if there were not creatures willing to eat the little bits of sloughed-off skin that we all drop.
One thing that we find is often true is that household pests are likely eating something that we want in our house even less. Take, for example, common house spiders. They scare a lot of people, but they’re generally our friends. They help keep down the house fly population, and also eat things like roaches, mosquitos, and earwigs.
So, next time you find a creepy-crawlie in your house take a moment to consider why that creature is there. It may not compel you to make friends, but it may encourage you to give the little critter a ride outside where it can continue its work.