Apr 20, 2009

An Ecosystem Under Your Bed

Rebecca and her husband decided to take advantage of the warm weather and rearrange their bedroom to take advantage of open windows and better ventilation. Upon moving the bed, they discovered this:


























As Rebecca described it, she found "whole bunch of little larvae squirming around in the carpet."

Turns out that she, like so many people, has carpet beetles. Many households have them, and most of don't even know it. Their presence isn't a commentary on the cleanliness of your house; they just happened to find you. In fact, once you find them, there's no real chance of getting rid of them.

Photo
source: The Backyard Arthropod Project















These creatures are typically found in bird and mammal nests, where they dine on the various bits that are shed by the nest's inhabitants (hair, wool, feathers, skin, exoskeletons of other insects, etc.). And guess what your bedroom is? That's right, a mammal nest. They have adapted to low-water living, so they can live in even synthetic, dry carpeting their whole life. Your foodstuffs are safe from them, since these guys specialize in eating the things more respectable bugs wouldn't touch, but your insect collections, taxidermy, wool products, natural-fiber carpets, and museum specimens aren't.

You're welcome people. When you go to bed tonight, you're going to wonder about every little tickle you feel, and about just what kind of ecosystem has established itself beneath your bed.

Thanks, Rebecca.

12 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

ugh, this is terrible.

Cat said...

Gross. There goes lunch.

Also, I will never feel right sleeping in my bed EVER again.

falnfenix said...

i'd wondered what those were. i've always seen them - they will even happily live in area rugs, as i discovered in my old home. odd little buggers, but since they don't bite me i don't really find them terribly upsetting.

The Gravekeeper said...

I don't recall ever living in a house that had them, but I don't think I'd mind if they decided to share a house with me. They don't seem any more harmful than dust mites.

Anonymous said...

That penny makes me think they came from a Canadian hummingbird's nest. Guess they ate the striped matchstick.

Wendy said...

One more reason to go with hardwood floors, even if it does mean the Cold Floor Dance in the wintertime...

Wendy said...

Scratch that - renewable bamboo is better than hardwood. ; )

Katie said...

I got rid of mine! I got sick of having to shake grubs off my laundry, so I just spent a weekend doing a really thorough clean, and they disappeared. Of course, I also lived in a 150 square foot broom closet, so I guess that's the tradeoff.

LisaL said...

I think I've seen these things on clothes that have been sitting in drawers for a long time. Usually find them dead but always wondered what the heck they were.
So long as I never see one alive and squirming, and so long as they never develop the taste for living human flesh, then it's all good...

ther1 said...

My sister and I love to collect these things. They're not much use after you find the live ones, so we let them go outside. They look like large mosquitoes when flying.

They are relatives of the famous dermestid beetles that eat the flesh off museum skeletons.

Anonymous said...

Aww i did my dissertation on these lil guys!

Julio Nava said...

I have hardwood floors in my house and that didn't stop them frpm moving in