“What is this?” is all this reader asks about the little brown bug pictured below. Although she provides no context, which is usually imperative to us being able to identify any given organism, we have seen this critter about a thousand times: this is a carpet beetle larva. Carpet beetles are notorious insects that feed on textile items such as clothing, bed sheets and, yes, carpets. As such, they have earned the status of ‘pest’, as infestations of them can cause significant damage to such items in one’s home, and they can often go unnoticed for long periods of time.
For that reason, when one spots one of these in one’s home as our reader has done, one wants to make sure they act fast, before the infestation gets out of hand, or even better, before it even starts. We are not saying that our reader is definitely experiencing an infestation – it is possible that this larva wandered into her home and it will be the only one she finds, but it is more likely that it hatched in her home and that there are more larvae. As such, we recommend that our reader search her home for more larvae. If she finds more, then she should try to find the source: this is where the concentration of larvae is highest.
If she finds more, she should vacuum her home thoroughly (which she might as well do anyway, just to be safe – eggs are hard to spot with the naked eye), and clean her textiles in whatever way appropriate, and to the highest temperature they can withstand. For example, bed sheets and clothing should be laundered, while carpets and rugs should be steam-cleaned. Of course, we understand that not everyone has access to a steam cleaner, so she should at the very least vacuum those carpets and rugs.
Additionally, something we have neglected to mention in other articles about carpet beetle larvae, due to a lack of education on this matter on our part, are the health issues that carpet beetle larvae can pose. We have always maintained that they are harmless to humans and pets, and while that is true to some extent (they are not dangerous), they can cause what is called a ‘carpet beetle rash’. This is not because they bite humans, but because the bristles on their bodies can cause allergic reactions in humans. It is nothing that cannot be treated, but we thought we would mention it.
To conclude, the little brown bug our reader found is a carpet beetle larva. They are not dangerous, but infestations of them can cause significant damage to textile items in one’s home, and they can also cause rashes. We hope this information proves helpful to our reader and we wish her the very best!
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