Recently we received a photograph from a reader who had found a worm or caterpillar near the rug that sits near her front door. The critter was sitting near her cat. The reader wonders if we know what this creature may be. She also asks if the creature poses any risk to her family, and how to dissuade it and any of its friends from visiting her home in the future.
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Given how clear the individual bits of rug are in this photograph, this is a relatively small creature. Given its size and the location in which it was found, we’re quite confident that this is one of the more common household larva. The carpet beetle larva (family Dermestidae) is the most likely option. Carpet beetle larva are very common in many households. They like to eat the little bits of dried skin and food that we and our pets drop onto the floor.
The good news for our readers is that they are completely harmless. It’s likely she’s been living with carpet beetles and their larva off and on for her entire life. They pose no risk to herself, her family, or her pets.
We understand that not everyone wants carpet beetle larva as roommates. If our reader would like to encourage her wriggly housemates to find other accommodations, then we recommend that she make her own house as inhospitable to them as possible. This is not difficult since, like most creatures, the carpet beetle and their larvae will not hang out in an area that does not have an easy-to-reach food source.
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All our reader needs to do to remove the carpet beetle larvae’s food is to sweep, mop, and vacuum regularly. She’ll want to make extra sure that she sweeps up any cat food that may accumulate near the cat’s dish. It’s also a good idea to keep the dry cat food in a sealed container. If there are rugs that can be machine washed, it’s not a bad idea to wash them in hot water.
If there is no food for the beetles and their larva, then they will migrate to a place where there is food on their own accord. In the meanwhile, if our reader sees a critter here and there, then she can just pick them up and move them outside. The contact won’t hurt her or the beetle larva.