We regularly, while exterminating indoor pests here in Phoenix, AZ we often encounter carpet beetle larvae, an insect that is so common we find them underneath most couches and beds inside homes. They are the hatched offspring of carpet beetles and are normally sparsely found in a home and quite harmless.
The carpet beetle itself is an insect that roughly has the shape of a lady bug, except that it is much smaller and its colors are often lite brown to very dark brown often with spots as in the picture we have included here. They get into homes by flying in, and generally because of their very small size go unnoticed.
They get their name from their feeding characteristics. Back when carpet was made of wool, carpet beetle larvae were found to eat away at and damage the carpet. This is because these larvae are scavengers and prefer hair in their diet. Thus the name carpet beetles. Of course modern carpet is synthetic so they need other sources of food, such as pet hair and scraps of food.
The get into homes by literally flying in. While in the home they get the chance to lay eggs.
These eggs hatch into larvae, which if looked at closely might roughly remind one of maggots with more hair. Just as carpet beetles very in size, so do their larvae. Most are quite small but some get large enough to get your attention when you come across them. The larvae are scavengers and feed off of organic matter.
We once got called out to a hospice to determine if the larvae under the bed of a “deceased man” were maggots but we identified them as somewhat large carpet beetle larvae. They were developing under the box spring due to the dander that was available to them at the edge of the bed. They were alarming to find, but actually were never “visiting” the occupant of the bed, just scavenging under and around for material they could eat.
We have included a video here of an interesting variety of carpet beetle larvae. These were found while we were performing a bed bug service and had been developing under a dog bed. The dog bed obviously afforded this larvae a lot of food as well as a safe place to live. Note the reddish color of this rather large variation of this insect.
[youtube] DaupURAeBJs [/youtube]
We fingered it in the video to demonstrate its slow movement. We sometimes get calls from frantic customers stating they found what they might consider “bed bugs” under the bed. We ask them if the bug they found moves more like an ant (kinda fast) or a worm (awfully slow). A slow, hairy (if they can see well enough) wormy like insect is a good description of this harmless creature found in all homes.