When a Bedbug is Actually a Carpet Beetle
By Chris Williams on September 9, 2014.
I went out to do an inspection of a property yesterday because the renter was in a complete panic that his apartment was infested with bedbugs. The first thing I asked him is if he had captured any for me to look at, and naturally he replied no. He had vacuumed a bunch of them up, but this does not do him or me any good when trying to make a positive ID if there is nothing to look at! It seemed that the insect problem was confined to a single bedroom on the third floor of this very old duplex. Upon inspection of the bedding, I found some carpet beetle larvae.
Then I found some adult carpet beetles too. Is that what you’ve been seeing? The tenant replied yes, and so it was not a bedbug problem after all. It appeared to be the varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), which can be a fairly serious fabric pest. Any feeding damage on natural fibers is caused by the larval stage only. Adult beetles can be found outdoors during the spring on flowering shrubs like lilac or spirea, where they feed on plant pollen. I suggested to the tenant that he check his daughter’s clothing for any signs of damage. This species can damage woolen fabrics, cotton fabrics (if they’re contaminated), and items containing feathers. Perhaps the source for this infestation was the down comforter on the bed. Or, it just may have been that the beetles were feeding on all the debris trapped between the gaps of the wide pine flooring. Carpet beetles are great scavengers and there was ample material here to be exploited. I instructed the tenant to use the crevice tool with his vacuum to clean out this material and to check other items in the room besides clothing, like stuffed animals that could contain “organic” fill. I’d never met someone so happy to have a carpet beetle infestation!