A reader wrote to us recently about some worms she is finding in “dark places” around her house. More specifically, she is finding the worms “in lounge, under sofa, behind sofa,” so evidently the worms have taken to hiding around or under furniture. The worms, which are about an inch long, are a cream color with brown tips, although some appear to be mostly brown, which makes them difficult to see because they are the same color as her carpet, and they are always on her carpet. The reader wants two questions answered: what are the cream and brown one-inch worms she is finding, and how can she get rid of them?
Normally, we have to start articles like this by laying out the possible creatures our reader found, and then explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each suggestion. Only after we arrive at a likely culprit or two are we able to move onto the business of getting rid of the pest in question. However, in this case, we are very confident our reader found carpet beetle larvae, by far the most common creature we write about. Although obviously larvae, people routinely refer to them as “worms,” which is why we have articles about worms under furniture, worms in the pantry, worms in the carpet, and worms on the counter. All of these articles are about carpet beetle larvae, and they are only a sample of the many articles we have written about them. There is no shortage of information about carpet beetle larvae on this site, so we won’t dwell on the specifics here. We will only note that everything our reader said about the creatures she found – their color, location, etc. – suggests she found carpet beetle larvae. We can’t be absolutely certain of this, especially since we weren’t sent any pictures, but this is overwhelmingly our best suggestion, so we’ll move onto the matter of getting rid of the carpet beetle larvae.
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Although carpet beetle larvae are not particularly dangerous, their small hairs can cause skin irritation, and they can also damage fabrics in your house (unless they are synthetic fabrics, which carpet beetle larvae won’t eat), so they are worth getting rid of. (Like most bugs, people just don’t like them in their house either.) Getting rid of carpet beetle larvae is largely a matter of cleaning. Vacuuming often and thoroughly is particularly important given the larvae’s predilection for carpet, and these vacuuming sessions have to be rather involved. Couches and other furniture pieces have to be vacuumed under, as this is precisely where carpet beetle larvae like to congregate. In vacuuming, you’ll most obviously be getting rid of the carpet beetle larvae and any of the skins they might have shed, but you’ll also be cleaning up things like lint and hair that attract them.
It is also good to make sure that any fabrics in your house are used and washed with at least partial regularity. A stack of blankets or clothing, even if washed, can draw carpet beetle larvae if they are never moved. Although the larvae focus on carpets and other fabrics, it is not unheard of for them to get into foods in your pantry (like grains or spices), so stored foods most be sealed properly. (This is a good idea in general, as unsealed foods can attract a number of pests.) Finally, adult carpet beetles will often lay eggs in bird and insect nests, so these should be removed from your house if you have a larvae problem.
Assuming our reader did in fact find carpet beetle larvae, the above advice will help her address the problem. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to be dealing with a serious infestation, so if she puts in some solid work now, she’ll likely be able to handle the situation on her own without too much effort.
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