A glossy, black worm-like creature was found by this reader in his friend’s room. He says there are a lot of them and asks that we tell him what it is.
Other than telling us whose room the creature was found in and a very rough estimate of how many were found, our reader provides no additional context. Luckily, we could tell this critter apart in a crowd. This is clearly a carpet beetle larva. We would argue that its identity is given away by the clear-cut segmentation on its body, its tear-drop shape and the bristles that adorn its body like needles, but it would be dishonest of us not to mention that this critter is so easily identifiable because we cover the carpet beetle larva probably a couple of times a month.
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Carpet beetle larvae are destructive little creatures. They are harmless toward humans and pets, but they chew through clothing, upholstery, carpets, bed sheets and just about anything that is partially animal-based in its material. They can even be found eating hair or fur in pet beds or bird’s nests. Because of this, they are considered pests, and they are quite common ones at that. Unfortunately, their small size and unassuming appearance means that carpet beetle larvae can go unnoticed for a long time and wreak havoc on one’s home in silence. It is fortunate that our reader and his friend have discovered the larvae and what we would assume to be the source of the infestation (the friend’s bedroom). Although an infestation is not a lucky thing, finding its source is the first step toward eradicating it.
While carpet beetle larvae can be found roaming all over one’s home during an infestation, the source is characterized by an area where populations of the larvae are most dense. Once the source is located, our reader’s friend should vacuum up all the larvae in the room, as well as launder or steam-clean any and all fabrics that are even partially animal-based. This will ensure that any eggs, larvae and adult beetles are taken care of. On a similar note, though the larva in our reader’s photo do not possess the long tail bristles that are characteristic of the black carpet beetle larva (a certain species of carpet beetle), its coloration suggests the possibility that it is one anyway. In case these are black carpet beetle larvae, our reader’s friend will want to clean all of their textiles, no matter the fabric. This is because black carpet beetle larvae do not have a preference for the type of material they consume; they will also eat synthetic material.
Our reader’s friend will want to repeat this process a few times a week for the next couple of weeks to keep cleaning out the infestation and ensure it does not come back. We also recommend that he is extra thorough with cleaning his carpets. Carpet beetle larvae are excellent at hiding between the fibers of a carpet to feed undisturbed. These critters do not get their name from nowhere. Additionally, we think checking the rest of his home for larvae is a good idea, as the infestation may very well have spread further than his room. In the case that it does, or in the case that our reader wants to be on the safe side, he should repeat the same methods (vacuuming and laundering/steam-cleaning) for the rest of the home. That said, if the infestation is not as intense in other rooms, these controls will not need to be repeated as frequently.
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To conclude, the worm-like creature our reader found in his friend’s room is a carpet beetle larva, and possibly a black carpet beetle larva. These critters do not pose a threat to human or animal health, but they can chew a lot of holes through garments and carpets, and they can be very irritating to try to get rid of. We wish our reader’s friend the best of luck in dealing with this situation and controlling this infestation!