A reader wrote to us a few days ago to ask about some larvae and beetles she found, sending us some excellent pictures of the creatures in question. She suspects she found carpet beetle larvae, an idea she wanted us to weigh in on, and she also found some sort of beetle that she wasn’t able to identify, which she also wanted our help with. In addition to the matter of identification, the reader wanted to know how to get rid of the carpet beetle larvae – or whatever they may be – that she is finding.
First, here are a couple of the photos that our reader submitted with her question. The first is of the larvae she found:
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And the second is of the adult beetle:
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Carpet beetle larvae are by far the most common creature we write about. We’ve written about them dozens of times, and we seem to have the occasion to write about them at least once a month. Thus, we are fairly confident in identifying the larva in the above photo as a carpet beetle larva. For one, it looks like a carpet beetle larva, with its brown and stripped body, and in addition, carpet beetle larvae are common household pests, and of course one is more likely to find a common pest than an uncommon one. That our reader found carpet beetle larvae is also suggested by the fact that adult beetles were found around the reader’s house. We therefore think that the adult beetles are – what else? – carpet beetles, which carpet beetle larvae obviously grow into. More precisely, we think our reader found black carpet beetles, one of the three common species of carpet beetle larvae.
Before moving on, we should briefly note that our reader didn’t seem to draw any connection between the larvae and the beetles, and this makes our identification of the adult beetle slightly less certain. Indeed, our identification of the adult beetle is largely premised one two assumptions: that she did in fact find carpet beetle larvae (which is very likely), and that the beetles are in some way related to the larvae (perhaps they were found in the same house around the same time, for instance). The overall context of the reader’s email implies that the beetles and larvae are part of the same problem, and we will go ahead and assume this, but if there is no connection whatsoever, we want the record to reflect that we are considerably less confident in our identification of the adult beetles. They do look like black carpet beetles, but this isn’t something we would have spontaneously said without the presence of carpet beetle larvae in the house.
As for getting rid of carpet beetles and their larval form, this is a topic we write about often. For instance, a few months ago we wrote about getting rid of the brown “worms” found under furniture, which is one of many times we have detailed the basics of getting rid of carpet beetle larvae. There are also some excellent external resources on carpet beetle removal, like the one published by the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management program. We won’t repeat in detail what we have written several times before, so we encourage our reader to check out other articles on All About Worms (or elsewhere) for removal advice. (There is the article linked to above, about carpet beetle larvae under furniture, and here is another piece about getting rid of carpet beetle larvae that infested towels.) At present, we will only note that getting rid of carpet beetle larvae is primarily a cleaning task. You are not only trying to remove the larvae, the beetles, and their eggs, thereby breaking the life cycle, but also the types of things that attract beetles and larvae to the house, like hair, lint, and various other fabrics and materials. It is also important not to invite the beetles into your house, which can be done by making sure that openings to the outside world (windows, doors, vents) are sealed to the extent that this is possible.
So, to recap, we think our reader is finding carpet beetle larvae, and thus we think she is also finding carpet beetles – black carpet beetles, specifically. To address the problem, some serious cleaning is in order, ample guidance for which can be found on this website and elsewhere.