A reader sent in this image of a creature on her bed, asking us if it was either a carpet beetle larva or a maggot. The image displays an ovate creature with bristles around its body. One half of this critter’s back is striped brown and beige, and the other is a solid brown, although it is difficult to tell from the image.
First of all, we want to thank our reader for helping us identify the creature, as we think it is a carpet beetle larva. Even though most carpet beetle larvae are uniformly striped across their entire back, this creature resembles a carpet beetle larva better than it resembles a maggot. This one beetle larva may just be a special case, or perhaps it is not far enough along in its process of maturation to have developed all of its stripes.
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Furthermore, it would make sense that this creature is a carpet beetle larva rather than a maggot, given where it was found. While maggots are usually found at a food source, carpet beetle larvae’s diets are made up of fabrics and other textiles, specifically those from animals. Additionally, they feed on pet food, crumbs, hides and more. For this reason, carpet beetles are considered pests.
One of the reasons many experience carpet beetle infestations is because this insect can fly. Hence, they are able to wedge through cracks or holes in your house at any height. After removing the larva(e), we recommend our reader starts with checking for any places that insects could possibly crawl through, for example: door frames, windowsills, floorboards, and other parts of their home, and work toward sealing those up.
If our reader thinks she is experiencing an infestation, the telling signs being holes in clothes, curtains or other fabrics, the first step to getting rid of the carpet beetles is to identify where these critters are most concentrated. Carpet beetles thrive in small, secluded areas, so you might find them in cupboards, the attic, or behind furniture (especially furniture that is covered in some kind of textile, like a couch!). The second step is to vacuum your entire home and clean all your fabrics. This will eliminate any beetles, larvae or eggs that might be found there. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as moving the insects outside, but this is more of a humane approach than using insecticides or other chemicals.
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After this is complete, our reader might want to consider applying methods of preventing further infestations. As carpet beetles can be picky with their materials, mostly being attracted to animal-made materials, our reader could potentially replace their fabrics with synthetic materials. Furthermore, ensuring that all her windows have decent-quality bug screens to prevent carpet beetles from flying in is a good step to take, as well as making sure to regularly clean her home. This goes for anybody!
In conclusion, we believe our reader was correct in identifying this creature as a carpet beetle larva. In any case, regardless of an infestation, these insects should be vacuumed up to remove them from one’s home, and all fabrics should be cleaned. While these insects are harmless to humans, they can cause serious damage to clothes and other textiles in the home, so be sure to take the steps to prevent these critters from entering your home.