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6670 Views 7 Replies Last post: Sep 28, 2010 12:50 PM by Araminta RSS
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Sep 25, 2010 8:59 PM

Found in carpet - hairy & striped, with 2 spines at rear?

I'm adding this to Household Pests as quite honestly, I don't know what this is! I've not seen one of these before that I ever recall, they're pretty interesting looking things. Anyway I live in 20 yr old maisonette flats, on 2nd floor. My 2 cats are house cats and don't go out, so it's not something they've brought in. I checked the cats over and there was nothing on them, nor did they seem to be interested or fazed by seeing one of these creatures on the stairs!

 

I found the first one of these probably in the spring, March/April time on the stair carpet. Didn't seem to move around very much until I disturbed it and then it moved fairly rapidly across the sheet of paper I picked it up on! I found a few up until probably early August then I haven't seen any since then, possibly seasonal but possibly because I then hoovered the life out of the carpet It's a synthetic carpet, could be a few years old as it was here when I moved in 2 years ago. The most of these I found was 3 in one week - I didn't kill them, just took them downstairs and outside to the grass area. There was a damp problem late last year in my kitchen due to plumbing problems and ensuing flooding, but I didn't find them in that area so don't think they're related to that. There were none in any other area of the property apart from the hallway stair carpet.

 

They were all between 10-15mm long, striped shiny back with long hairs, and 2 barbs/spines at the rear. Anyone have a clue what these are, if I'm likely to find them again and what I should do? (If they cause a long-term problem I'd prefer to find an eco-friendly solution to removing them)

 

insect1.jpg

 

insect2.jpg

 

insect3.jpg

  • Hi,

    Nice photos :) Looks like the larvae of some kind of Larder Beetle  ( Dermestes spp.) There's a lot on the net about them. Apparently they like dog  and cat food :)

    Dermestes are very useful creatures in the outside world, aiding in  decomposition. They're also used in forensic science, and by museum staff to  clean skulls, bones etc. But they're not such good news when lodging in our  houses ;)

    Hope someone can offer you a gentle way to evict them. It sounds as if they don't go willingly.

    Araminta
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      • It's a good idea to keep the kitty food well out of reach, as you  are doing, and being a vegetarian will help a great deal, but they're  resourceful little mites and some species will even chew through wood. They'll  eat most kinds of animal protein, including cheese, but in the outside world  many of them have a preference for dead  or very sickly animals, so your cats  are safe as long as they keep moving about a bit

         

         

        Oddly enough, having mentioned that museum staff sometimes use them to clean  skulls etc, I just found this:

         

         

        http://www.museumpests.net/pdfholder/38image.pdf

         

         

        I can understand your reluctance to use pesticides, so it might be worth  trying to eliminate any overlooked potential food sources first.

         

         

        This link suggests a few that  might not necessarily be in the larder

         

         

        http://ccesuffolk.org/assets/Horticulture-Leaflets/Larder-Beetle.pdf

         


        I wish you all the best in evicting them. I'm glad you posted that as  it's been very interested learning about them

         

         

        Cheers,

         

         

        Araminta

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          • I'm glad to meet another like soul who doesn't run screaming from bugs I  can't remember ever being scared of spiders, rats, bats, snakes or anything  else; quite the opposite. However, my ID skills are severely limited by the fact  that I engage in live microscopy only, and that only as long as the heat doesn't  upset my subjects LIke you, I free all my finds, and also specialise in  rescuing drowning beasties.


            Quite a coincidence with you seeing the same  creatures at the NHM (I keep having improbable visions of them hitching a ride  home on you ). They most likely entered your house in a batch of dried pet  food. It sounds as if it's been found in pet food factories in increasing  numbers over the years.


            Larder beetle breeders use glass or hard plastic  to enclose them, so you've chosen the right thing to keep them out (but see below for possible exceptions).. If that  doesn't work, then glass, aluminium, zinc or steel are said to be foolproof.  They're good climbers and excavate short burrows into almost anything in order  to pupate. They prefer softwoods, which remind them of home, but will also bore  into books, electrical insulation, plastic piping, lead, and even tin. They need  that protection to avoid cannibalism from other larvae. Looks like they need  those spines, though I was unable to find out what their natural predators are  in the wild.


            At their last moult, the larvae wander about looking for  somewhere to pupate, and that's probably when you spotted them.


            Their  life cycle is regulated by the seasons in the wild, but indoors they're capable  producing more than one generation a year, so you're wise to keep a lookout.  A  complete generation of the larder beetle takes about 50 days under ideal  conditions, and they like to be kept warm.


            I have a few found animal  skulls that are in need of a clean-up, and I'd been looking for an efficient way  to do it for ages. Thanks to your query I'm now thinking of keeping a colony  for a while to do the job. They seem very easy to keep happy


            Apologies  if you've already read about all this too. We're probably reading the same web  sites, but I sent this just in case, as I know you have a curious nature like  mine


            Good luck,


            Cheers,


            Araminta
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            • We do indeed use Dermestes larvae for de-fleshing and cleaning skeletal material and you can see these industrious larvae at work on our beetle cam:

               

              http://www.nhm.ac.uk/kids-only/naturecams/beetlecam/

               

              If you are looking to make a home made dermestarium I would recomend you invest (not a heavy investment) in a tank of woodlice as these also clean skulls and bones quite effectively.

               

              Pleased that there is another Larel & Hardy fan out there

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              • Thanks for the video link. They're industrious little mites aren't they.

                I've been doing some research since you posted your excellent suggestion  and will go ahead with my Armadillidiidium as soon as I can find an old fish  tank to house them. This site had some good advice about rearing them:


                Being crustaceans, I know they must be kept in damp but not sodden  surroundings, but does that also apply to their food?. Should I keep the skull  wet, or do anything to soften the edible bits before offering it?  And if I was charitable enough to throw in some leaf litter and fish food, would they take that in  preference to the crow (?) biltong on the skull? As you can see, it's not exactly as succulent as that rodent the Dermestes were working on


                BIRD SKULL.jpg

                The only downside might be the scattered reports of ritual beheadings

                I used your "Walking with Woodlice" ID tool to find out that this one is  probably The Common Shiney Woodlouse (Oniscus asellus). There's a ready supply  in our garden. Here's one who's been frightened up a grass stem by a very  aggressive Peacock caterpillar (not shown, but don't you think they look oddly  like Stargate Goa'uld when they rear up? ) On the other hand, the woodlouse reminds me ofDürer's Rhinoceros close up.


                WOODLOUSE sc.jpg


                One last question, if I may. Once cleaned, how can the skull be whitened without  degrading the bone? Would sunlight do it?

                Laurel and Hardy only beaten by Buster Keaton, IMHO

                Thanks again

                Araminta
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