What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Am I allergic to this hairy bug
Location: Boston MA
November 13, 2010 3:22 pm
Hi Daniel,
Great website! I love learning from what you’ve put together. You’ve made me very curious about bugs.
In particular, I have a bug that I am having trouble identifying. I’ve found them in my home, in the bedroom and a few other places.
Bugs I have observed are 1/8th inch to almost 1/4 inch long. The one in the attached pictures is 3/16ths inch long (just short of 1/4 inch). It’s the biggest one I’ve found. It has hair tufts along its body.
My best guess is a Carpet Beatle / wooly bear, but I am not sure that is right. Is this the larva of Anthrenus verbasci beetle? Or what do you think it is?
What can I expect from this bug living in my home? I have asthma, and have noticed I have been having more irritation with my lungs since I noted these insects, especially after spending a night in the bedroom where I found them. Could I have some allergy to their presence / fur?
If I need to remove them from my home, can you recommend a method?
Thanks so much, Daniel!
Signature: Justin Molloy

Carpet Beetle Larva

Hi Justin,
We are not medical professionals and we feel very reluctant to provide any opinion regarding the possibility of Carpet Beetle Larvae being connected to a complex syndrome like asthma that can be triggered by stress as well as the physical environment.  We will try to address you letter as best we can.  We agree that this larva is in the genus
Anthrenus (see BugGuide), however we are very reluctant to provide an exact species identification, though Anthrenus verbasci is a strong possibility.  According to BugGuide, the habitat of Carpet Beetles is:  “An abundant household ‘stored product pest.’ In nature they inhabit the abandoned nests of birds and mammals, as well as old wasp nests where the larvae scavenge on accumulated fur, feathers, skin flakes, and dead insects” and additional comments include:  “Controlling carpet beetles can be achieved by keeping your home free of accumulated hair and dust (dust is mostly shed skin flakes of people and pets), discarding infested items and properly storing vulnerable items. Store dry foods (including dry pet food) in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids. Store woolens, furs, silks in a cedar chest. Forget mothballs and moth crystals. They are ineffective and carcinogenic respectively.”  Because the larvae may feed upon fur, hair and skin flakes, it is possible that environmental factors are contributing to your asthma and that the presence of the Carpet Beetle Larvae is a symptom of an underlying problem that might be corrected by more frequent vacuuming and cleaning of accumulated debris.

Hi Daniel,
Thank so much.  This info is very helpful, and is the link to your site on Anthrenus.
Really appreciate your guidance!  Have a great day.
Justin

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Massachusetts
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One Response to Carpet Beetle Larva: Can it be Related to Asthma flare???

  1. Jessi says:

    I actually just finished raising three of these exact larvae, and they did indeed grow up to be Anthrenus verbasci. As for the asthma bit, my mother also had asthma attacks when the carpet beetles were present in the home. After the house was thoroughly cleaned to get rid of the carpet beetles (except for my three) her asthma flare up became a lot less frequent. However, the same thing happens when the house is quite dusty even without the carpet beetles, so I definitely think it’s most likely related to the environment, and not the larvae themselves.

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