I began finding these “worms” in my kitchen a couple of weeks ago and although somewhat baffled by their appearance, wasn’t overly concerned and quickly forgot about them. Once my wife began to find them, it became a little harder to ignore. They would appear on the counter, in the cupboard and daily I would find one on (not in) my covered sugar bowl. Thanks to my trusted Nikon D60 DSLR, I was able to capture a detailed and very close up photo of this creature.
I posted it on my Facebook profile page and got immediate comments. Mostly they were “ewwww…” and “you must live in Dunnville.” jabs but one caring reader identified this worm as a carpet beetle larvae. It began the investigation. My wife had it identified within an hour.
The “Larder Beetle” or “Dermestes lardarius” is a small beetle which is an infrequent pest of households. Found during the winter months in the outdoors in sheltered areas, they are known to enter buildings in the spring thaw in search of food. One female larder beetle will lay up to 135 eggs once establishing a food source and these eggs will hatch within 12 days. The beetle will live for 40 to 60 days.
The larvae of the Larder Beetle is distinguished by a backwards curvature in its spine, two spine like appendages or “horns” in the posterior end on the abdominal segment. They are thickly covered with short and long setae which are reddish-brown to black in color.
These beetles (including their larvae) are dependant on high protein foods, and will strip the bones of animal carcasses. I’ve heard that some museums use them to clean fossils. Subsequently, the most likely of spots for me to find them would be in the containers full of dog and cat foods. I dug through the bins carefully, searching for any sign of a worm, egg, beetle, any sign of these elusive creatures. Alas there was nothing. I shifted my attention to the cupboard with the sugar bowl. If I kept seeing them here, it’s a good spot to look.
Pulled out the ice cream cones. Nothing. Pulled out the flour. Nothing. Icing sugar. Nope. Baskets full of spices. Nada.
At this point I grew tired of the search and started losing interest in the whole ordeal. Then I noticed a bag up in the corner of the cupboard. AH HA! The dog treats. In the bag was a mixture of expensive, healthy dog food that the vet gave us as a sample (big kibble, useful as treats), and run of the mill Milkbones. It was loaded with larvae! Worms everywhere! They had burrowed through the treats and were living inside of them! On closer inspection, I realized they were strictly inhabiting the Milkbones! The healthy dog food was untouched, while the “McDonalds” of dog treats was infested!
I pulled everything out of the cupboard, inspecting everything closely, fully expecting to find these pests everywhere. Alas they were not. The only other infected container was a bag full of graham cracker crumbs. It’s a good thing it’s garbage day tomorrow as my garbage has already made it to the curb.
As I sit here typing, I find myself very grateful that I found these creatures while they were still in the larvae stage. Hundreds of speedy beetles tearing around the house really isn’t something I’m interested in. Plus, my wife doesn’t have to run from the house screaming.
Man, I love living in the country!