Scientific name: Anthrenus verbasci
Size: Approx. 4-5mm (body length of mature larvae)
Where found: Indoors
Carpet beetles are an important part of nature's "clean up crew", but can damage certain items such as natural fabrics, carpets, and even preserved animal specimens (like that wild boar head mounted above your fireplace). In nature, after an animal dies, the carcass is colonized by a predictable succession of insects. Once the carcass has dried out (and stopped stinking), carpet beetles arrive and their larvae consume the parts of the carcass that other insects cannot digest- including the fur. Adult carpet beetles do not eat these materials, they eat pollen and are sometimes unknowingly brought indoors on cut flowers. But once indoors, the adult carpet beetles have an uncanny knack of seeking out suitable development sites for their young (like the old wool blanket in the back of the hallway closet).
There are a few species of carpet beetles that may be found in California, and it is the larval stage that causes damage. The small, "fuzzy" larvae (like the ones in the picture) may be found wandering in the house. If they are found, it is important to trace them back to wherever they are developing so that the infestation can be eliminated.
For more information about managing a carpet beetle infestation, please click here.