How do I get rid of tiny black/brownish hard shell flying insect-(looks like carpet) beetle in car

Asked May 25, 2017, 11:54 AM EDT

My son came home from school locked his car, got up the next morning to go to school and had tons of these insects in the car some dead some not. We have no idea what they are, they resemble carpet beetles we vacuum only to have more an hour or so later. We sprayed home defense and it killed several but they come back. There's nothing in the car that we can see that they are feeding on my son said when he sprayed under the dash they seemed to swarm out but cannot find a source. Strangest thing I've ever seen. It's been in the high 80's so left the car shut and locked thinking we could kill them that way but they just keep coming back.

Marion County Indiana

1 Response

Without a picture of the beetle, or a sample in my hands, it's difficult to tell exactly what you are finding in the car. I doubt it's truly carpet beetles, because you should have killed them all by now. At the very minimum, you should be seeing some of their short, fuzzy larvae in the carpet as well as the adult beetles.

One possibility, which is going to be rather disturbing, is that these may be Dermestid beetles. Carpet beetles and some of the pantry pests are in this family. However, there are also a few species that feed on dead animals. If there was a dead animal, such as a field mouse or a squirrel, stuck somewhere in the car, these beetles may be feeding on the carcass. It is not uncommon for mice and other rodents to nest in automobiles. Here is an article from Colorado that shows what these beetles look like:

If the beetles seem to be emerging mostly from under the dashboard, I would suggest having your son (or, if it was me or my son, a mechanic) look through all the nooks and crannies that a car has, to see if there is a dead rodent lodged somewhere.

Whatever else: please do not use any more insecticides or bug bombs inside the car. You may wind up poisoning yourselves with the product! These chemicals are meant to be used in open areas, where the fumes can dissipate. You might try placing a bunch of sticky cardboard traps in places where you see the beetles (you can pick these up from most pest control companies). And continue the vacuuming.

Good luck!