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Neither Bitten nor Delusional, Carpet Beetles and Bed Bugs

by Auntie Madder
(Dallas, Texas, USA)

For the last several months, I've had the "crawlies" and felt the (nearly always) "invisible bug bites" left by "microscopic mites" or "invisible bugs." Although I wanted to, I couldn't explain the crawling sensations and feelings of being bitten or stung any other way. And try as I might, I couldn't convince myself that I was delusional (still can't), not when told I was by the nurse practitioner nor even when my boyfriend and one of our mutual friends offered their unsolicited assistance by insisting that my bugs and bites were mere delusions, even going so far as of refusing to acknowledge my comments and complaints on the topic. (Yes, they ignore me as if I'm not even in the room...providing further proof that when it comes to tough love, a**holes do it best.)

Since Monday, I have found and put in a disposable, covered plastic bowl, the carcasses of two tiny, hairy bugs. My search of Bing images of "tiny hairy bugs" led me to the knowledge that the two not-at-all dear departed are carpet beetle larvae. Keying "do carpet beetles bite" into Bing web search returned numerous pages of results, all of which instructing that carpet beetles do not bite. A few, however, go on to explain that some people have an allergic skin reaction to carpet beetle larvae hairs that feel like bug bites or stings.

"Carpet beetle larvae have prickly little hairs that cause a reaction in some people that looks very much like bed bug bites. The solution is to make sure all the allergens (the hairs) are removed from the environment. People with sensitivity to the hairs may get some relief by not wearing shoes or socks in the house. A build-up of static electricity can cause the micro fine hairs on the larvae to impale themselves in human skin, thus creating a small pin-prick-like wound. The ‘bite reaction’ under clothes is symptomatic of carpet beetles, as the hairs can pass though all but the finest of weaves on clothes."
From Greening the Apple, the Environmental Protection Agency’s New York
City blog

This information is confirmed by West Virginia University, the entomologists and other pros at the BedBugger Blog, and David Cain of Bed Bugs Limited in the UK (via BedBugger), among others.

While my experience has been that few of the "bites" of the carpet beetle larvae hairs left marks that look like the bites of bed bugs (or any other bugs, either) on my skin, the "bites" really did sting and hurt, sometimes so much that I thought I might cry like a baby. I was many times incredulous when my boyfriend claimed to see no bug nor bite or sting marks on my back, as those are the "bites" that hurt me the most. In fact, some of the first "bites" on my back still hurt now, months later.

Now it all makes sense. Although I've felt crawled over and bitten and stung hundreds of times over the past several months, and although the perp is, indeed, an insect, I've not been bitten at all. But I'm not delusional, either. I've been suffering from an allergic reaction to the tiny little hairs of the carpet beetle larvae.

If only I knew then what I know now. For that matter, if only doctors and nurse practitioners knew then what I know now. Shame on you all, dermatologists especially, for telling patients seeking help and relief of pain from you that it's all in their minds and writing them off as delusional instead of performing a little online research in search of answers. If I can do it without a PhD...And they pay you the big bucks.

Editor Comment Regarding Carpet Beetle Skin Reactions

Dear Auntie,

Thank you for sharing your story. We're sure it will help others who know they have some type of skin reaction, but aren't sure of the cause.

Allergic skin reactions are specific to the individual. Some may show no reaction to an insect, while others will experience symptoms similar to the ones you describe.

You were smart for continuing to investigate the cause of the skin itch problem.

Take Care,


Comments for Neither Bitten nor Delusional, Carpet Beetles and Bed Bugs

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Similar Mystery
by: Anonymous

I found it helpful to hear that there is something other than bed bugs to explain this! Even if I'm not sure yet. But I'm in a rental room, and I'm sleeping on a used fouton. Even though I've inspected twenty times, I still find no evidence of bed bugs, and yet there are little tiny flecks on my sheets. They seem to come from nowhere, especially at night, and only 2 times I found an actual bug which did not look like a bed bug and was bigger. I smashed them too soon to be sure, and it was just a blob.

I'm sensitive to most things, and may be allergic to these, if it's carpet beetle larvae. Although...I am also allergic to dust mites, and there are probably plenty of those here too.

feeling better
by: trey

its nice to know im not crazy. i keep thinking im feeling the same thing, like something crawls onto one spot but then no matter how quick i look or smack there is nothing there. tonight i took the cushions off the couch and started looking into the deeper crevices and found several of the larvae hanging out.

Carpet Beetles
by: homelesscat

Yes, it was confirmed that I have carpet beetles. I also realize that the hairs of the larvae are causing my legs to feel a lot of static and bite marks that are concentrated mostly on the legs.

This is painful and itchy. It seems I have an allergy to them.

What would I like to know is how do I cure this?

Editor Suggestion

To kill the carpet beetles we suggest a product like Delta Dust (cannot use in NY or CT.) You'll need a hand duster to apply the dust into cracks and crevices and along baseboards. The goal is to have the carpet beetles come in contact with the powder.

In terms of any itch, an over the counter itch cream will help with any symptoms.

Best of Luck,


Carpet Beetles Problem
by: homelesscat

I am having a problem with I believe are carpet beetles. They are literally in my bed, couch, all over my hardwood floors, clothes. I feel a lot of static especially on my legs. also (not sure how to explain) seems like muscle spasms especially in legs. I see black specs. all different colors. They are in my car as well.

The only way I know they are there is they seem to be landing on my feet, when I am in the house. When I go away they do not bother me.

I have had these for approximately 4 years and cant put a dent in it. I had my house sprayed a number of times to no avail. I vacuum, wash clothes. nothing seems to work...any ideas?

Editor Suggestion


Are you sure that your problem is carpet beetles? Make sure that a qualified professional has captured an insect and made a positive identification.

From your description, the problem could be fleas, particularly if you have a pet in the home. It could be that the pet continues to introduce fleas into the home.

I would suggest treating your carpet with a flea product such as Raid Plus.

Carpet Beetles
by: Angie

WOW...I could have written your post. Myself and my husband have been getting mysterious "bites" for over 8 months. We had 2 pest control companies come out and they both ruled out BBugs. Then, about 3 weeks ago, I found TONS of carpet beetles, on our walls, on our carpet, in our kitchen pantry.

We pulled up and tossed all the carpeting in the downstairs and are in the process of replacing with wood floors....we also through out a bunch of linens and unfortunately we'll probably have to throw out my beautiful living room couch, chaise lounge and rocker that matches, due to the fact that they are stuffed with goose down, which these little freaks love to eat.

As you stated...I would love it if drs. and dermo. knew more about this, since it would have saved us many months of hell. I had been to 3 drs. and 1 dermo. who didn't know what my "marks" were took me and an entomologist at a college near by to identify these things. So..other then selling our home, we are removing everything they can breed on...even priceless heirloom linens...I don't care, as long as I can get my life back. I will tell you that 2 weeks ago we tore out the carpet downstairs and my "bites" have been more frequent since I believe we disrupted their living area...I wish you well and I hope we can both be rid of these things...

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