“Please tell me what these nasty terrible awful things are?” asks this reader in her submission regarding the light brown bug pictured below. “They look like tiny worms, but zooming in on the camera you can see they have lots of little legs. They obviously hatch into something because they leave the worm-like shell behind but I noticed them in my car a few weeks ago. I’ve vacuumed like a madman and it doesn’t seem to be getting rid of them: they just keep multiplying and I’m so freaked out by this that I’m almost ready to take a huge loss on my vehicle! Help! I have no idea how to get rid of these things!”
Not to worry, the bugs our reader has found in her vehicle are carpet beetle larvae. They are completely harmless to humans and pets, though they can cause damage to textile items in the home, or, in this case, the car, so our reader is right in wanting to eliminate this infestation. Usually, the best way to get rid of these pests is to vacuum “like a madman”, but seeing as our reader has already done this quite a bit, we recommend she remove any textile items she may have in her car (like clothing or tote bags), as well as that she does not keep food in her car for quite some time. This will give the larvae a smaller food source, meaning they will be more likely to leave the car and search elsewhere for food.
The ‘shells’ our reader has been finding are the skins left behind by the larvae when they molt. Molting is a process all insect larvae go through as they mature, and it is the process by which they grow out of their skin and thereby shed it to make room for their bigger bodies. Our reader will want to make sure she keeps vacuuming, and that she vacuums up these skins, as carpet beetle larvae will eat discarded organic matter, and it is possible they eat these skins.
The reason our reader has been finding so many of these in her car is likely because the adult, mother beetle laid her eggs in this car, as she deemed it a safe place for her eggs to hatch and her larvae to mature, and thus an infestation grew out of that. We think that if our reader keeps vacuuming her car and eliminating food sources for them, this infestation will end. She should also make sure to check for any adult beetles and move them outside, so they do not keep mating and producing more offspring.
To conclude, we think that the brown bugs swarming our reader’s car are carpet beetle larvae. If she is still not able to eliminate the infestation after a while, we recommend she contact a professional. By no means does she need to get rid of her car. That said, she should be wary of professionals using insecticides: not only are they not effective against carpet beetle larvae, but they are also toxic to humans and pets, so we do not recommend their use. We hope this information proves helpful, and we wish our reader the very best.
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